Pixel Pushing

Ten years ago, the family and I took a whirlwind trip out west.   I took lots of photos but never really did anything with them. . .   Of course, they are priceless in terms of documenting our trip and showing that were actually there; but as for photographs, they are just . . . okay.  I decided to a pull a few from the archives to see if today’s software could make them more than just marginal.

The camera for this trip was a Kodak DC 4800 with it’s whopping 3.1 megapixels, and I’m pretty sure I shot on Auto. . . back then I just didn’t know any better.

Image 1:  Somewhere near Sedona, Az.

The Before:
GC - Sedona 054 GC - Sedona 054-2-Edit-Edit
The After:  You can really see a difference when you click on the images and make them larger.  Just don’t make it too big; I guess there is only so much today’s programs can do.  But who knows, in another 10 years . . .  I will hopefully get the opportunity to try again with the knowledge and camera equipment I have today and no pixel pushing required 🙂

The Process:  I started in Lightroom.  I always like to start there, starting with the basics: Some sharpening, noise reduction (was a must!), pretty simple.  Then off to Photoshop.  Here I use my plug-ins (yes, I know I can use them in LR; it’s just a preference of mine to work with them in PS).  First up, Topaz Clarity.  I am loving this one.  Since I don’t really speak the techie-language, I’m not even going to try, I just know I can get the result I want by starting with a preset and then tweaking the sliders.  I’m off to a good start, but there is still all that noise and then some.  I had Topaz’s Denoise, not sure where it went.  So I went to Nik Define2.  I like that I can apply it just to the area I want (the sky) by using a brush and bonus the Nik software in PS creates a layer to work from, so I make adjustments later if I need to.  Still, not quite there yet, I wanted some more detail but wanted to keep all that noise I worked so hard at getting rid of at bay.  After clicking around Topaz Adjust and Nik Color Efex and not really finding what I was looking for, I opted for Nik Sharperner.  I have two options here RAW presharpener and Output sharpener.  Now, I know I should probably look up what each one really does and why, and maybe someday I will, but let’s face it, I’m a clicker. If I click on something and it gives me what I want, that’s good enough for me.  I went with the RAW, which makes absolutely no sense given I was working with a low quality, low resolution, JPEG, but it did what I was looking for, what more can I ask.

In the end, other than the pushing of all those pixels resulting in a hot pixel showing up here and there (cloned out) and the fact that printing this large will never be an option, at least not a good one, I think this was an exercise well worth the effort.  Are they now perfect? Not by a long shot.  Are there other ways to achieve these results, if not even better one’s?  You bet there are.  But for now,  I relived some memories, taught myself a thing or two, and I learned a bit more about what the software I have can do, and that is pretty darn satisfying.

Here’s another one resurrected from the trip.  This is Coral Sand Dunes National Park in Utah, near Zion.   I kept pretty much to the same processing. . . Zion 027 Zion 027-2-Edit-Edit

’til next time,
Maria

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Greenhouse Effect

I envy anybody that has their own personal greenhouse ~ especially on a cold winter day.  As much as I love photographing flowers, I’ve never really had the knack it takes go grow them.  Oh sure, I have some perennials outside and add some annuals every year, but they are always marked HARDY, need little care, and will grow under stressful conditions.   This year is the first year in a very, very long time that I’ve bought some potted flowers for inside the house (you may have seen my tie-dyed orchid).  We’ll just have to wait and see if it likes its new home.  The last time I tried growing plants indoors was when I was first married…  I remember when Ikea first opened in our area.  They had this mini arboretum/ greenhouse made of wood.  Like most items in Ikea, it was too cheap to pass up {fyi, was just there and they had the cutest & colorful bud vases in red, turquoise…  and only 99 cents!…  you are bound to see them show up in future photos :-)}  Anyway, we tried growing some plants from seeds in it (no not those kind :-P).  But silly us, we lived in a small cramped apartment on the third floor and nowhere to transplant the seedlings.  That little greenhouse traveled with us from new home to new home . . .  until it was finally put out at a garage sale.  Wooded lots and greenhouses I found are not very compatible.

aureus star

Yesterday I joined fellow members of the DPC on an outing to Parkside Orchid Nursery.  The varieties … spectacular!  It was very cold & blustery and even in the greenhouse the plants were swaying where they hung.  Still, inside it was warm and even slightly tropical, with moss hanging down, and oh … such a magnificent array of colors {sigh}.

Lavender-and-Lace

The perfect outing when everything outside around these parts of are some shade of brown or gray.

violaceous floridbunda

On a photographic note…  Nope that’s not a textured background in the above photo, just the way the light was hitting the greenhouse wall (a mesh-like plastic) and I’m guessing the blue sky…   There is nothing more satisfying than when the images {almost like magic}come straight out of the camera …   No PP other than a bit of a crop and a little bit of the basics (sharpening, saturation, …).  Just all the photographic elements aligning at just the right moment… that and recently being reminded that the background is often as intricate a part of the overall composition as the subject (thank you, Henry 😉 ).

Post Processing

After a few hours of sorting through a few hundred photos that I took on my trip to Tucson and then another few hours spending on the post processing, I have finally published just over 100 photos to my website.  First up are the event photos.  Sorry to some of you who can’t check them out as they are password protected for family and friends, but here’s a tiny sample:

Continue reading “Post Processing”

Dabbling in some digital

Had a chance to take a break from the darkroom and take some digital photos.  I was surprised, how much adjusting I had to do to get back in swing with my digital camera. 

The event:  An Oscar party. 
The subjects:  Moms and daughters on the red carpet. 
The challenge:  Working with the available light, a large group in a small area, a 50 mm lens, and no tripod.

The only post-processing was done using Capture NX2 adjusting the white balance using gray-scale, some sharpening, and upping the contrast and lowering the brightness of the background.  And overall I was really pleasantly surprised by the lack of noise shooting at such a high ISO.  Of note, it would have taken a heck of a lot longer to do all of this in CS4.