Post-processing skills as well as taste develop over time. New tools come out or get updated. Reviewing your image library for things you may want to change is a good idea. Just don’t spend too much time on post processing – leave enough to go out and make new images too!
This is one of my favorite photographs and one that I’ve even sold, but re-looking at it I saw several things I thought I could make a little better. Here’s the updated version after all my re-edits (which are described below):
After: Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird, Final Edit
I started over from the RAW file (you do save your RAW files, don’t you?) and re-did the basic adjustments in Lightroom (color balance, initial exposure adjustments). Then I moved into Photoshop and cleaned up distracting elements (tire tracks, poles, the tip of the cloud just right of the lighthouse, …). I then added a duplicate layer and ran that through Topaz Adjust using the “Spicify” preset to bring up structure, detail, and color saturation. I don’t usually like applying this filter all over an image at 100%, so once back in Photoshop I added a hide all layer mask and partially painted in the effect, using a higher opacity brush for the sky to let more of the filter show and a lower one for the rocks and ocean to mute the filter effect. I then took the result back to Lightroom for final tweaks to color balance, sharpening and a crop to remove part of the sky. I thought that the colors of the sky and rocks were still a little off, so as one last tweak I added graduated filters to help adjust their tints.
For reference purposes, here’s the old edit of this photo:
Note: you can click the two versions above to go to my Flickr account, where you can view larger versions.
And also for reference, I uploaded the original RAW file (with default development settings in Lightroom) below.
Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird, RAW Capture
Would I go to this much effort for every image? No. But sometimes a photo really appeals to me and I want to get the absolute best I can from it. It helps that I enjoy working in Photoshop and learning about new techniques.
So what do you think? Quite a few changes, some more subtle than others – but overall I like the new version better.
I hope that all of you and your families and friends are having a joyful and happy holiday season!
The weather has been pretty gloomy here this weekend, so I didn’t get a chance to go out and make any new photos. I thought it would be a good time to jump the gun and put together my second annual “Favorite photos of the year” post.
One again, I’ve gone through the photos I made in the last 12 months. I use Lightroom to rate them from 0 through 5 stars. My rating system definitions are:
1 star – The photo is interesting
2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others
3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) any given photo shoot
4 stars – My favorite photo of a year
5 stars – My favorite photo (ever)
Photos without stars are seconds or not so good versions of other photos. I usually keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention. I’ve used this system consistently, and it seems to work for me. Of course, this is all subjective and my opinion only. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve chosen.
Again in 2010, I was really blessed with a huge number of photo opportunities. On my hard drive in my 2010 folder, I have about 11,700 files (not all are photos), taking up 145GB of space. Of these:
5997 of the 2010 images have been cataloged in Lightroom. Many of the rest are source images for multi-shot panoramas or HDRs, or high rate bursts that I selected from.
1139 are rated 1 star or higher
639 are 2 star or higher
88 are 3 star or higher
1 is 4 star, and
None are 5 star (I’m still not done taking photos yet!)
Of the 88 that are 3 star or higher, I’ve selected 10 images to include in a gallery of my favorite 2010 photos. You can click on each of these to go to Flickr, where you can see a larger version. One interesting difference from my 2009 Favorite Photos post is that all the ones this year were made in the Central Florida area.
So, here we go…
My #10 favorite 2010 photo is: Waving Gator. Gators always smile at you, but this one was even waving! No, I didn’t Photoshop the wave. The gator really did it all by itself. I have witnesses.
My #9 favorite 2010 photo is: Roadside Flowers. Wildflower photography is a little different in Central Florida than some other areas of the country. Some might say it’s more challenging here, and I doubt anyone comes to Central Florida specifically to photograph wildflowers. None the less, wildflower photo ops are around here too if you keep your eyes open. These are along the Florida Turnpike. I saw them while driving home from Gainesville, Florida and just had to stop and photograph them.
My #8 favorite 2010 photo is: Cattle Egret in Flight. For once, I was ready when this bird flew close by. Right lens, correct camera settings, and paying attention. I could almost feel my camera nail the shot. I wish I felt like that more often.
My #7 favorite 2010 photo is: One Second Koi or “One second, Koi” or “One second Koi?” I don’t usually make this sort of photo. On this occasion, I decided to experiment and I was very pleased with how it turned out.
My #6 favorite 2010 photo is: Sunrise, fog, palms, pond. This scene is close to the north-west shore of Lake Jessup. On this particular morning, the mist in the distance and the clouds on the horizon shaping the sunlight drew my attention.
My #5 favorite 2010 photo is: Burning waters @ Orlando Wetlands. We were at Orlando Wetlands Park back in late September before dawn. It was raining very softly, but not enough to discourage us from hiking out to Lake Searcy and capturing this scene. I like the light hitting the flowers on the left, the rain cloud in the distance, and the dawn colors in the sky.
My #4 favorite 2010 photo is: Grasshopper and Donuts perform photo-magic on the beach under the stars for an audience of three.
We have a local camera club and three of us decided to go over to the beach to try to photograph the Perseid meteor shower. My two friends went out on the beach while I stayed up on the boardwalk. At one point I looked down and could barely make out this scene in the dark. I like the way the camera’s LCD is lit up and draws the viewer’s eye to the two photographers. I also like how the three strangers (who were watching for meteors) look like they’re watching my friends.
I was using ISO 1600 and my “nifty 50” 50mm lens at f/1.8 to keep exposures as short as possible (I was trying to prevent the stars from trailing), and I had focused manually at infinity. All I had to do was switch on live-view, re-compose, and zoom in on my friend’s white shirt to manually re-focus. Fortunately no one moved very much during the 4 second exposure. It’s really amazing how modern cameras can capture scenes that are barely visible to our eyes! And yes, we did get a few meteor photos. (Grasshopper and Donuts are nicknames for the two photographers in the scene).
My #3 favorite 2010 photo is: Cyprus tree and knees. I wanted to try the Nikon D7000 on some landscape photos, but didn’t really have time to go anywhere special. This tree is very close to my home – along the shore of Lake Jessup in Central Winds Park. Cypress trees make very good photo subjects since they can provide both near and middle distance content for a scene.
My #2 favorite 2010 photo is: Cormorant at the Circle Bar B. These birds have been posing for me lately. I think it’s amazing how pretty they look in the right light.
And … my #1 favorite photo of the year 2010 is: Ponce Inlet light, sunset, bird. Imagine if you will, a perfect dusk scene with sunset colors drifting up from beyond the horizon. In the distance is a photogenic lighthouse that’s illuminated just enough to make it stand out against the bright sky. Beneath your feet, slow-moving Atlantic Ocean surf rolls up on rocks. You spot a bird in the surf and hope it will be still while your shutter remains open for the seconds necessary to record the image as your mind’s eye sees it – tack sharp from foreground rocks all the way to the distant lighthouse, with silky smooth water reflecting the dusk sky. Imagine coming home and seeing the image that you imagined right there on your computer screen in all it’s glory. That’s what happened to me last August.
I’ve uploaded these photos to this Flickr set, and you can click this link to watch a slide show. When you watch the show, you might want to click the “show info” link.
We stayed an extra day and a half after Sara and Mike’s wedding to make sure everyone got back to the airport OK and all the tuxedos got returned, etc.
We also wanted some time to ourselves to relax a little bit. The weather on Monday was a bit sporty, so we didn’t want to spend all day outside at the Wisconsin state fair. Lynn did a little research on the web and located a wildlife sanctuary about 50 miles north of where we were staying, so we decided to drive up there and take a look. We wanted to see a little bit more of Wisconsin and ended up taking mostly back roads on the way up. It was a very pleasant drive (until we ran into some construction – but we routed around that easily enough). One place we went through was Port Washington, on the coast of Lake Michigan. It is a scenic little town, although they seem to have been hit pretty hard by the slow economy. This first picture is their lighthouse, built in 1860.
The Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bend Wisconsin was our main destination for the day. They have elk, bison, big horn sheep, several variety of deer, wild turkey, and other animals. You can drive through the property in a golf cart and if you’re quiet and the animals cooperate, you can see quite a few of them. The day we were there it was very overcast and in fact started to rain fairly hard by the end of our visit. Photography was quite a challenge due to the low illumination. I was traveling light with just my Canon G9, which is not a good low light camera, so my photos of the bison, are a bit blurry. Oh well – there’s always next time.
I do like this photo of a native American animal skull display. I’m thinking about making a large print for my office at work. I’m hoping it will warn my enemies to stay away. The rest of my photos from this trip are at https://edrosack.com/Port-Washington