A little extra work

Two weekends ago I went on one of my photo adventures, hitting various scenic spots around the area and taking pictures. I spent a whole Saturday exploring and snapping, and then on Sunday I began processing the photos.

This time, rather than simply saving off the camera and uploading immediately, I tried editing each photo using some tricks I read about online. I was extremely pleased with the results; I feel like I’ve taken my first step out of casual pointing and shooting and into real photography.

First I evaluated each photo, rotating and cropping where necessary. Then I applied Image > Adjustments > Match Color > Neutralize, which I read about here on Sitepoint.com. I had used the other option mentioned in that article, Auto Color, before, but wasn’t always happy with the results. Match Color > Neutralize really helped make the color of my photos look natural. I was especially happy with the Color Intensity slider, which helped me bring out color without affecting detail.

For most of the daylight photos, Match Color > Neutralize was very beneficial, but it wasn’t necessary on all of them.

After rotating, cropping, and normalizing the colors, I went through a variety of adjustments. My friend Don posted a link on Facebook to this technique used by a photographer to enhance colors on his images. I ended up modifying the technique a bit, depending on the photo I was editing.

To begin with, I didn’t use the High Pass filter at all. Most of my photos were shot in bright daylight, and all that filter did was cause weird halos that didn’t add anything to the scene. However, I made heavy use of Blend Mode. I would duplicate the background layer, then change its blend mode from Normal to Soft Light (or, in a very few cases, Hard Light). Sometimes I’d Desaturate the top layer; other times I’d leave it the way it was.

I also fiddled with the opacity on the top layer to get the exact contrast and color pop I wanted, and on some photos I played with Curves and Levels to get richer contrast effects.

By the time I got to the last location, Thurmond Dam, the sun was setting. I had never managed to get a really good nighttime shot before, and I’m open to suggestions about shooting at night. For the shots of the dam from the Georgia side of the river, I propped my Nikon D60 against the side of a tree.

The editing methods listed above didn’t work quite as well for the low light shots. High contrast tended to destroy the details and it was hard to pull out color without making the photo look grainy. I’ll be interested to research and try out different techniques for night photography.

Any thoughts on the techniques I used for these photos? Do you know any shooting or editing tricks?

Shooting in RAW and color-correcting for the first time

I’m busy getting ready to head to the airport, so I don’t have a lot of time, but I wanted to go ahead and slap up these shots I took at the Canal the other day. Below you’ll find the original, unedited image, and then how I tweaked the image in Photoshop. I mostly used Saturation and Levels. I may have overdone it a little…but it was my first time. I’m allowed.

Savannah River Headgates Savannah River Headgates: color-corrected

Augusta Canal trail Augusta Canal trail: color-corrected

Augusta Canal Augusta Canal: color-corrected

Ant on Leaf Ant on Leaf: color-corrected

The last two pictures came out the best, I think.

There are tons more photos from the Canal, but I won’t have time to go through and edit them until I get back from England. I don’t have time to upload them unedited, either, so you’ll just have to wait ;)

Obama manjuu

Barack Obama has been endorsed by the city of Obama, Japan.

Members of a local tourism association and other people formed a volunteer group Monday supporting Obama and put up campaign posters at a local hotel.

“We’d like him to win the election and visit our city as president,” said 55-year-old Kiyoji Fujihara, a group representative.

[…]

According to the city government, the move arose out of an e-mail sent to city hall by a local resident in late 2006.

The message said Obama had joked “I’m from Obama” on TV when visiting Japan and that the city should consider giving him an award for the comment that became good publicity for the city.

It is not known if he actually did make such a comment, but the city last year sent Obama a letter and lacquered chopsticks, a local specialty, city officials said.

Most exciting to me, though, was this bit:

The group is also considering selling Japanese-style “manju” sweets with Obama’s portrait on them.

Mmm, Obama manjuu.

Via Japundit.

Update: It occurs to me that a person who uses name similarity in this way would be what Edogawa Conan would call an お芽出度い奴.