What I really like about this image is how there are three distinct types of reflection going on: there’s the rough ice that more or less ends up looking white and speckled; there’s the smoother ice under which bubbles were moving, creating smooth, flowing shapes that changed from moment to moment; and the surface of the water, which created the clearest, albeit darkest, reflection. This was shot late in the afternoon of an overcast day, by the way. As always, plenty of jiggering in Lightroom with blacks and vibrance.
Good times were had this past week on a road trip to Ohio and Indiana. There were several days that hinted at the spring to come; lovely days for a walk on my brother’s wooded ten acres. Well, really it’s more like a honeysuckle infestation than woods, but there are a number of paths through it, covered with moss, and a burbling stream, and lots and lots of wildlife, both dead and alive.
Then, on the way back, we stopped at the Somerset rest area on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, stepped out of the car, and were hit with a frosty blast of Winter-Hanging-On. Downright icy. Which brings us to today’s shot, which is more ice.
In this one, the clarity slider is taken all the way down to -100, and blacks and contrast are accentuated. Also, me feet got very very wet taking this shot. I left holes in the ice.
I was beginning to think that the ice images were done for the year. Things have been warming up here in Philadelphia, and there is less and less of the stuff around. After today’s weather, the type that tends to grant amnesty for seasonal affective disorder and make one love life, I’m not sure there’s any of it around at all.
But I did get to spend the weekend up in Connecticut, where winter is still exerting itself…some would say to excess, I would say to wonderful aesthetic success. My parents have a brook that runs behind their house, and it plays host to a family of beavers whose dam floods sizable area of the property. Of course, that freezes, and does so in a a variety of intriguing ways. Ample opportunities to walk around staring at the ground through glass, and getting my socks wet.
I’ve tried to get in the habit of writing up my entries here at the same time each day, to get into a routine and because that’s when my daughter is sleeping and therefore not trying to lick the computer. But on Friday, I was sat on a jury that will be hearing a case for the next seven to ten days, and that pretty much shoots the idea of writing when my daughter is not around to lick the computer. The only other choice? Late evening, after dinner and bedtime.
Here, I’m back to some ice images, and I think this one is a bit reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, from 1952.
One thing is certain, working on these abstract images: when unburdened of the need to accurately represent color, some very interesting things can be done with just the Vibrance slider in Lightroom. That slider will adjust subtle shades of a color much more than already-vibrant shades, so something like ice or snow, which appears mostly white, will undergo a pretty serious transformation of hue based on what the light is imbuing it with; here, the day was wearing on, and the light was becoming a bit warmer, and the resulting image shows that. The shadows, too, where bluer colors lurk, have shifted quite a bit. It’s an interesting tool.
I don’t know why, in an image that is as manipulated as this one, I feel the need to brag that I’m not adding any colors that weren’t there to be brought out from the RAW file. Call it selective pride or something. Still, I’m having fun learning Lightroom better through these experiments.
mhallphoto Art Photography, Landscapes, Seasons, Winter 24-70mm, art, burn, D300s, dodge, forest, landscape, Lightroom, Philadelphia, photography, seasons, shadow, Sigma, snow, trees, winter, Wissahickon 0
Outside today, it’s grey and slushy and overal-lly crappy…the dreaded Northeast Wintry Mix. No better time, then, to continue on with some of my winter shots that evoke the more pleasant possibilities of the coldest season.
Since yesterday I put up a shot of trees, I thought it might be nice today to post the implication of trees. Rather than posting direct light, I’d post the implication of direct light. I thought I’d also do the unthinkable, and put up a finished image, and the SOOC image it came from (below).
The original has, I think, decent composition, but shooting shadows on snow that is reflecting sunlight is tricky; you have both the dark areas, which you don’t want to completely lose detail, and you have the highlight areas, which are very strongly highlit indeed and in danger of blowing out completely. The histogram is strongly skewed to the right.
After converting to black and white, the first thing I did was adjust exposure, darkening the image so that the highlight area on the right edge of the frame had acceptable definition. But, when this was done, the top left background went nearly complete black, and it took the fence with it. I dropped a graduated filter with a positive exposure setting over that part of the frame, and used an exposure adjustment brush to make sure the fence was properly exposed and showed a bit of its texture, too. A little bit of fill light, and a tweak to the black slider, and you have the image at the top of the post.
This is another great example of how learning the basic darkroom techniques of dodging and burning–not to mention the simple task of evaluating photographs–can lead to a much clearer sense of what to do in a digital workflow.
mhallphoto Art Photography, Landscapes, Photography, Seasons, Winter 24-70mm, backlight, D300s, forest, landscape, Lightroom, Moon eclipse solstice video photography, Nikon, Philadelphia, seasons, Sigma, trees, winter, Wissahickon 0
Back in middle school, I had the good fortune to have Mr. Goeler as my English teacher in both 6th and 8th grades. Besides having Yousef Karsh’s iconic portrait of Ernest Hemingway hanging in the room, Mr. Goeler cultivated in his students a great love of language itself…the sound and texture of pinpoint words being a source of aesthetic enjoyment. There was nothing we loved better than learning a new word and then using against each other in the maximum possible and hopefully subversive ways. One of those words was “fickle”.
I am fickle. Fickle means wantonly (another of those words) oscillating between positions or preferences; lacking loyalty. When I first started seriously learning photoediting, I loved me a good fill light slider, and largely used this as my tool of choice to open up dark areas of images. Then, somewhere along the way, I started playing more with the Brightness slider, and even though thee two do not do the same thing, I soon found myself in the routine of using Brightness to lighten things up, and Fill Light became somewhat neglected.
Now I am swinging back. Have swung back. I’m trying not to touch my Brightness slider until I make a print, at which time I add about +20 Brightness to make the print as bright as what I see on the screen. But for editing the actual image? It’s all a balance of Fill Light and Blacks. In the above image, I love the way the Fill Light brings out the texture on what would be otherwise strongly back-lit tree trunks. The light in this shot is not enough to carry the entire image, and I think that extra bit of texture adds enough to it to make it not half bad.
In several months, I’ll probably be back to talk about how wonderful the Brightness slider is, and why only chumps and chimps use the Fill Light slider. I’ll also take your recommendations for any other possible sliders of fickle derision. But White Castle is off the table.
mhallphoto Abstraction, Art Photography, Landscapes, Photography, Seasons, Winter 24-70mm, abstraction, art, D300s, frozen, ice, landscape, macro, Moon eclipse solstice video photography, Nikon, Philadelphia, rock, seasons, Sigma, winter, Wissahickon 0
Perspective can be everything in photography. You can walk around with your camera at eye-level, taking pictures that look exactly like what you see. And there is certainly value in that. But it’s a concrete value.
Or, you could try to wedge yourself between a rock overhang and the icicles hanging down in front of it, point your camera up, ignore the old couple walking past on the trail staring at you quizzically, and get your shot. I love how this one plays with a sense of scale. In actuality, this is a very small scene; I’m right underneath it, using a macro lens close to wide as wide as it can get (26mm), stopped at f9, so that there is some semblance of a deep field. But the result, is, to a certain extent, ambiguously scaled. I think this is more obviously ice than the last couple of ice shots I posted, but I think it still maintains some amount of abstraction.
Since the weather here continues to be downright winter-like, it seemed germane to continue with the shots of ice. Here, a leaf is frozen in an icicle. One of my favorite color combinations is the crisp, maybe even “fresh” brown color of newly dried leaves in the fall, blanketing the forest floor, punctuated by the vertical strokes of almost-black, rain-soaked tree trunks. This is not a picture of that. But the leaf is that color, and I think the light bouncing around in the ice, and the rock seen through the ice, makes up a nice little image itself.
Also continuing on with a couples thoughts on abstraction, it really is incredible, I think, how rotating an image 90 degrees one way or the other greatly enhances the abstract qualities of an image like this. The images in the previous post is rotated as well, and I’ve even caught myself look out my back window at the icicles hanging from by porch roofing, with my head tilted to the side. Georg Baselitz has long appreciated the effects of an additional 90 degrees of rotation.