A little dusting…

can go long way.

Week 2 – Landscape.  I’ve really been feeling a bit uninspired…   Last week rain, this week it has been reeealy cold and getting myself to get out there and go some where… nope, just too easy to stay put where it’s warm and dry.   And then!  We got a dusting of snow ~ a game changer.   I wasn’t even really looking for that landscape when I took the dogs for their walk.  It’s a usual path, pretty brown, nothing really ever jumps out and says take my picture (unless one of the dogs does something cute), but with just a dusting of frozen white (and the first of the season), the usual path was transformed.20160113_124657-01  With dogs in tow, I took a couple shots with my phone ~ actually a few more than a couple, because (a) I cannot see the screen on my phone when my transitions darken, and (b) insurance that I am holding my phone steady enough – a challenge also when holding two dogs.   Fingers now sufficiently frozen, we turned to head home and then there it was… the pond, frozen, with these large circles of ice where the snow did not stick, making a beautiful design all across the pond.  Fingers too frozen to break out my phone again and the sun still too strong (talk about blown highlights), I knew I had to revisit it later that afternoon without two dogs and fingers thawed and crossed that my timing would be right and the sun wouldn’t warm things up enough to change the ice patterns.  Almost 4:00, I was pretty sure I missed my opportunity (and the sun on the pond), but I was all bundled up, so what the heck – maybe I would see something else I hadn’t seen earlier.  But oh my!  When I got to my destination, the sun was hitting the pond like a stone skimming across the water  and all those circles were now glistening discs.  Andif that weren’t enough, I had a backdrop of  wispy winter clouds and a touch of beautiful blue sky ~ I have my landscape.

week-2---Landscape

It just goes to show, you don’t have to travel great distances or visit far off places to see something unique, you just need to allow yourself to see… wherever you might be.

Until next time,
Maria

 

Monitor Matters – An Update!

Hey, so I have learned a little something new on this topic.  This is an update to my post Monitor Matters, in which I wondered why my photos looked so off while I was working on a post on my laptop.  What do you know, there really is an answer!

First I should probably re-title this post to A Beast Called Color Management.    The long of it… you can read here, as honestly I can barely get my head around it.  But the short of it… if I’ve even got this right, is that, yes, an image can look considerably different if you are viewing it in a browser that uses only “half” color management (Google Chrome/Explorer). On the other hand if you are using Firefox or Apple’s browser (Safari), they use “full” color management, and you’re seeing the image pretty much as I am (minor variations in your monitor settings aside).  Just like the article, I did my own test and opened this image

Hello Fall

on my iPad, in Firefox, and in Google Chrome, and compared all three to the image on my calibrated monitor. The iPad took top honors, Firefox looked pretty nice on my uncalibrated monitor, and Google… well, I won’t be using that browser any more as part of my photo workflow in the future.  Just thought you might like to know it’s not your eyes playing tricks on you… it’s your browser.

Until next time,
Maria

p.s.  All research on this topic and explanation so I could understand it is thanks to my dad 🙂

Monitor Matters

Happy Friday!

So tell me, what do you think of this picture?  Nice looking guy, right?  This is my son, who T 5K (7 of 14)by the way placed first in his age group (pardon the proud mom moment).  But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I’m curious, how does it look on your monitor?

The reason I ask is because I used Lightroom on my laptop to process it.  Long story short, I thought I’d relax and be more comfortable as I worked.  Well, I immediately found myself struggling to focus through my progressive lenses (the narrowest part being for viewing the screen) on the little 8-inch or so, uncalibrated monitor, and struggling with the viewing angle of the monitor, which we all know T 5K (5 of 14)changes what you see.  So other than for the crop, I wasn’t really sure if the color corrections or other edits I was making were actually helping or hurting.

Okay, so maybe I’m a little obsessive-compulsive when it comes to my photos.  He is only using the pictures for his FB and Instagram after all.  But when I returned to the photos on my website,  viewing them on my “Photo” monitor, content aside, I did not like what I saw.  This also happens to be true in reverse; photos that look great on my calibrated “photo” monitor don’t always look so hot on other monitors/devices.   I know, I’m probably over thinking this, especially since photos are viewed on so many different devices.  But, still, I want to show the best possible image… that’s just the way I am.   Heck, even the photos taken with my phone and shared always get a little extra love through Snapseed…  T 5K (1 of 14)

It’s back to my tried & true (and big) monitor for me, and knowing that at least I am 100 percent satisfied before my images are sent out to be seen regardless of monitor/device it is viewed on.

Until Next time,
Maria

 

 

 

Sharing some love

 Happy Valentine’s Day!

A perfect day to do something I love . . . get a little creative & share.

I found some hearts (it is Valentine’s Day after all) in my archives and thought I would try something a little different, so I’m checking out Topaz’s new Glow plug-in.

be-my-valentineOn first try, it’s a pretty simple and user friendly plug-in.  Below is the original (the subject, just one of the many characters you’ll see wandering around the  Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia).  For the how to:  I imported from LR with a crop and white vignette to PS, and then went to play with Topaz Glow.  Love that hair…perfect for some Glow, and of course the heart eye-patch.  I would love to tell you which Glow I used, but, as usual, I click around so much, trying this one and that one… that by the time I settle on one, I forget what to name it in my layers palate.  Added some text and above is my quirky valentine… be-my-valentine_orig

*************

Next… what’s this?  Lot’s of green . . . no not St. Patty’s Day.   But there are some hearts, lots of them, which is why I probably took this in the first place.  I just didn’t know, until today, what to do with them.

green_heartsThis photo was a little more involved…   First up, isolate the hearts.  I masked them out in Topaz Remask 4.

sending-a-little-love-TR  after cleaning up the edges, I decided red would be more appropriate for the occasion.  In PS, I used Color Range (which you can find under Select in the menu bar), I selected, well, all the green, added a layers mask, and then a hue & saturation layer and adjusted the sliders until I got the perfect shade of red.

Color Range

It’s getting there, now for some Glow… ugg, again, forgot to make note of which one, but I think it may be one of the “soft blooms” and then messing with the sliders.  Again, just follow your heart when using these plug-ins…  sending-a-little-love_glow-and-cleanup…you just never know what you might discover

Glow left the edges a little rough, so using the smudge tool I was able to smooth them out, followed by just a plain white brush to tidy things up a little bit more.

Finally, time to turn this into the Valentine I imagined… a little text, finding the right font, and . . .

sending-a-little-love

Til next time,
Maria

The opposite of work…

Happy New Year!  Ahhh, a day off… and on a Thursday nonetheless.  It’s not very often I can say that…  As a work-at-home independent contractor, if there is work, it’s usually never a question… work comes first.  And if there isn’t work, there’s always something else on the to-do list, clean, cook, shop… something.  So what better way to welcome 2015 than to take the day off…really off.   But what to do?  It’s too cold outside.  I thought about taking in a museum, but it is a holiday after all.  Ah-ha! I’ll go through my photos, organize my files, etc.  It wasn’t long before that felt like work and I was just browsing through the photos I had taken over the year.  Opening this one up, and that one. . . popping it into a plug-in and seeing what this would do, what that would do.   No real goal in mind, no particular purpose.  I was playing!

And as it turns out, by the end of the day, I had created my own year in review of sorts. . .  in no particular order.

blanket-of-lavender

white-peaks

Untitled-1-15

color-spectrum

Untitled-2-15 a-day-remembered Lasting-Impression

summer-dazeheading-home

Oh well, the organizing will just have to wait for that next day off . . .

May your year be filled with Love & Joy, Health & Happiness
. . .  and time to play 🙂

Til next time,
Maria

User Error

I-D-10-T is apparently an IT (information technology) acronym used to describe a “user error.”  Look closely… and it says “idiot”.   Well, if the shoe fits…

This me protecting my gear and hoping not to get run over . . .  Photo by fellow Photog, Ann Ciliberto
This is how I started the weekend, protecting my gear and hoping not to get run over.  Photo by, fellow photog, Ann Ciliberto.

I had one of those days . . . actually weekends . . . with my camera where I just could not get it right ….let’s just say it was a weekend of I-D-10-T errors.

Day 1:  The 5K race photos.  After a long, wet, and chilly morning, a cup of hot cider and a nap, I uploaded my very gray & rainy day race pictures.  Ugg, they all had a blue tint rainy-race-day-walkers-1   I was struggling with my flash a bit, so figured it was that…  Good thing I shoot in raw and have Lightroom to help save the day.

now just a little gray
now just a little gray

Day 2:  A very different day, sunny and bright, another perfect fall day!  Took a drive, found a pumpkin patch and even better a beautiful flower patch.  I had a little difficulty in the super-bright conditions seeing my display, so I never thought about the previous days dreaded blue-cast.  Not long before heading home, asking for just 15 more minutes in the flower patch with my camera, I a) finally noticed the blue color cast was still there workhorse-1 … can’t blame the flash now, time to check the settings.  Who changed my white balance to bulb!?! and b) I also realized that I had not checked my ISO setting from the very dark dingy gloomy day before.   Settings changed, the last few photos saved . . . right? workhorse-2 Wrong!

Somewhere along the way, no idea when or where, I somehow managed to change the quality setting from Raw to Basic.  Not discovered until I was tweaking the white balance in LR (to get rid of that dreaded blue tint) and all of a sudden the WB options vanished.  What? Why?  Then, there it was . . . a jpg file.

now shooting jpg with blue colorcast.
Now that’s blue! jpg with blue colorcast.
even with a little help from LR -- can't seem to get it right.
even with a little help from LR — can’t seem to get it right.

I guess we all need to be reminded from time-to-time of some of the basics; and there’s nothing like an I-D-10-T error(s) to do just that:

So to avoid silly mistakes like mine  Remember this:

  1. Check your equipment & all your settings before you head out.
  2. Shoot in raw if given the option, or your post-processing adjustments become a bit limited.
  3. And the biggie for me . . . take your time. A couple exceptional photos are better than a whole afternoon of mistakes.   Feeling rushed and hurried, for me, always, always causes an I-D-10-T. . .  oh, lets just say it, idiot user error.  So keep the family waiting a little longer ~ It was a beautiful fall day and besides. . . I drove 😉

Not a total loss (even in jpg) once I corrected the other settings, turns out this was my favorite photo of the day 🙂Natures-pinwheel

til next time,
Maria

Doctor’s Orders

center-stageAbout three weeks ago, on a cold and rainy weekend I went on a meet-up to Longwood Gardens.   The perfect prescription to ward of a severe case of the winter doldrums.  And even better, I can now get a dose prn (the medical acronym for as needed) by revisiting my photos from that outing.

lilly-and-gold orchidstra

How about an apple a day to make you feel better. . . all 18,540 of them!
apple-a-day

And even though the weather conditions were not conducive to going outside and shooting, the upside was the crowds stayed home. . . except for an occasional spectator. . . McCann-Longwood 002Photo courtesy of Kate McCann 🙂

’til next time
Maria