Monthly Archives: May 2010

Just a quickie


Here’s something that took 5 minutes just playing around with layers and masks.

This link will take you to a large version of the final image.

CS5 – a practice run


I decided to upgrade my software to Creative Suite 5 and it arrived on Friday. Thank goodness that Tom is still at University, the discount given to students is 80% and he can put it on two machines. I wanted to try it out on a challenging piece of work and chose this image.

This image was actually taken as a test shot after I had first gone into the greenhouse. I felt it needed some fill and used a camera mounted flash, not having a trigger with me, set to fill not key. When I looked at the image in camera I made the choice to use a reflector as I didn’t want to spend hours in photoshop getting rid of the flash glare.. As it was a test shot I have left it alone until now thinking it unworthy. So the challenge was on for CS5 and I didn’t want to spend more than a half hour.

Here is the original un-retouched JPEG, I shoot in RAW with a JPEG copy, and my comments with what it is that needs to be done to the image.

As you can see a real challenge to accomplish in half an hour.

I had to try out this new content aware feature in CS5 so selected the pipe on the left with the lassoo tool and then used the fill command set to content aware. It took a minute or so to analyse the image a returned a rather broken trellis but in the interest of time I decided to accept and move on. Next was the board on the left which i repeated the same as before and got another good result. Boyed up and eager to see if it could handle anything harder I tried the same to the flash glare, bad result so I undid that and went to work with the clone tool.

The next problem was the man in the background. If he had been in full shot I would have rather liked it but he was cut in half and just looks wrong. The content aware feature was no good, time was clicking and so I decided a crop would help. This enabled me to straighten the horizon at the same time.

Next I created three masks on three different layers. The top background to the window frame, the lower foreground again to the window frame and then the subject herself. Making a mask for the subject allowed me to try out the new features in selections. Supposed to make it incredibly easy to cut out hair. It wasn’t and I will need a lot more time practising with this feature. Not as straightforward as the reviews have made it.

Using these masks I blurred the background with Gaussian blur and tweaked the subject’s contrast. This also finally obscured the gent in the background.

Time taken just under 30 minutes….not perfect for gallery exhibition but enough for an A4 print.

Here is the final edit

The poppies have started and soon we will see roses


Yes the first poppy unfurled from its prickly shell today. Who cares you might think. Well I do as it signals the start of of many more delightful blooms and my two loves, photography and gardening combine to make a summer of enjoyment, God willing and the creek don’t rise. I cannot believe how much ‘Her Indoors’ and I have learnt about gardening in the last five years. Some of my Flickr viewers won’t be as happy because I do like to keep a record of our accomplishments and, more importantly, I am selling more flower images. Need a whole lot more garden art, the meter and a half by meter images on foam board are becoming a popular item, so forgive me if we have fewer model pictures.

With regard to my model work, I have finally come up with my theme for the year’s images and it is “VANITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT”. I cannot believe how much plastic we are using and what it is doing to our environment. It is all because of our vanity and greed. I am now looking for models who can help me with this. Contact me if you think you want to help. It will all be location work and I will travel for the right person.

With today’s image I needed a fast shutter speed, bit of a breeze this morning, and I wanted a low depth of field, concentrating the viewer on the petals. Need to see those crinkles, like a new born babe. Aperture priority with exposure based on an average reading of the whole. Produced F4.5 at 1/800th of a second. The long lens helped with the bokeh. Did not adjust background in photoshop, just tweaked sharpness, levels and curves.

Another Friday


Yes another Friday is upon us and spring is here in full bloom. Haven’t had a model shoot since Studland and beginning to get withdrawal systems. The camera has not been shut away though as the garden provides plenty of willing subjects both animate and inanimate.

They say that a good portrait photographer can get the personality of his subject in the image. Bullshit of course, it would be very difficult to determine the personality of anyone in the time the photographer has with his subject. I believe it is the image that begs the question, I wonder what they are thinking? I always key on the eyes and keep reminding the subject to focus on something not just blankly stare into space.

I am proud of two images this week. The first is my study of Bluebells. Being a small cluster of bright blue blossoms is a challenge in itself. In the past I have been unsuccessful, getting the colour and not the real detail and beauty. I used my wide angled macro lens, lay down on the ground and pointed up at group of blossoms. I wanted to show the blue of the sky and the blue of the flower. I needed to make sure my background was out of focus, bokeh is what they call it now, so used aperture priority and opened the lens up to F4.5. This gave me the added advantage of a fast shutter speed 1/50th of a second. It was a breezy day and I didn’t want any movement. This was the result

The next subject was a chicken. I wanted a head shot. These type of shots take patience and I spent a little while rolling around on the ground amongst my friendly flock of happy hens. Not a bad way to spend some time. Did I capture her personality and are you asking, what is she thinking?

Depth of Field


When ‘Her Indoors’ looked at this image she praised it effusively and then asked what photoshop technique I used to get the background like it shows.

The answer was I didn’t use photoshop at all for the background, it was created in camera using the aperture priority mode and opening up the lens to F4.5. I then focused on the bluebell and took the spot light reading from the same spot. If I had used F22 the background would have been in focus and it would not have been as pleasing.

It is a pity I haven’t had a model to photograph this last week, the bluebells have been magnificent.

cstgpa - View my recent photos on Flickriver