Sunday, December 13, 2015

To Crop, Or Not To Crop, That Is The Question


The original image, immediately above, always bothered me. Too much of the floor, and too bright too, and extraneous details in the upper left, and I wasn't wild about including the whole reflection in the bumper - to literal.

I really wanted that upper left tip of the fender though - but I could not find a way to keep it while emphasizing form, and in the end decided that it was better to get rid of a relatively subdued shape, even though nice, to empasize the two wheels.

Cropping becomes part of one's style - how tight do you go, how much to sacrifice to emphasize a few important elements, tell a story by including enough surround to inform, or eliminate all reference to scale, situation and circumstance.

In general, I crop very tightly, though it's only been in the last few years that I've gone beyond tight in to the realm of ruthless.

What do you think?

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Turner Valley Gas Plant Cont.

The second and third images are focus blended.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Combine Chute

Ken and I visited Pioneer Acres, after stopping at an abandoned farm. The sky was cloudless and finding images that showed any subtlety was challenging. Why I bent over and peered into the opening of a chute of an old combine I can't explain, but in the shade was this lovely rust and patina composition.

I tried photographing it from a few feet away with the 120 on the Pentax 645Z but apart from having to shade the lens, the shape didn't work. I switched to the 35 mm. which fortunately has a close focus distance and put the camera almost into the chute opening. I stopped down to f22 and accepted that the edges would be out of focus.

In one way, the image is a big cheat. That funny red shape at the top of the image is in fact a flap valve, with grass and sunlight and red. I just wasn't happy with it. I tried blurring it but it just looked blurred - very fake.

Out of curiosity I wondered what Photoshop would make of it if I hugely enlarged the healing brush to the same diameter as the flap and a tad more, and the result was this very attractive shape and colour which I think works very well with the rest of the image which is pretty straight.

Should I have taken it this far - well, I'm really pleased with the result and let's face it, peering up chutes sounds like something for a proctologist, not a photographer - so if it's been altered a tad, well, who's to challenge me.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


I headed out for my walk, but they're installing new storm drains and I popped across the road to check out the equipment. The larger front end loader had caked mud all over the bucket, but the smaller had a cleaner bucket with a nice rust pattern and as I approached a lovely glow from the polished metal.

It started raining and my efforts to record the image as a stitch were different as the rain initially added splotches and by the time I quit, an even sheen on the part of the bucket exposed to the vertical rain.

By the time I finished shooting, exposures were up to 30 seconds as darkness set in.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Buckets and Bumpers

Abstract In Rust

And here's what it looks like at 100%, after blending five images of the top, five of the bottom, then stitching together, cropping and editing.

The crop is about 24X magnification of the full image shown at top. This would print 12 feet across, though it wouldn't stand nose on inspection, still - 12 feet...


Monday, August 03, 2015


Half of a mold - in this case, the two parts are about a cubic foot of steel - and you thought the chicken had it hard...

Leather Aprons

I was photographing at a Smithy - and these are the leather aprons worn to protect from burns.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Black And White

So why convert this image to black and white? Well, I felt the image was a bit flat, but didn't want do drive the colour to unrealistic levels, and wanted to emphasize the form rather than colour (after all it only had one colour).

I converted the image with a B&W conversion layer, no special filtering, then added a curves layer and then a threshold layer to check for diving the image to pure white (or not). This I did by moving the top right corner of the graph to the left, giving me a straight line that was steeper. I then adjusted the curve of the line to an s bend to give the image more contrast.

I then added another curve with the top right moved leftwards and applied it to the light on the boiler below the saddle. Lastly I used my warm tone action, with the saturation turned down a bit.

I could have done all this with the colour image, but where in black and white it has some power,m in colour it would be over the top.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tractor Seat

I'd noticed this seat on a steam tractor last time I visited and liked the shapes, but it was rather high off the ground. This visit, I tried harder, and found a trestle sitting on the other side of the lot. I brought it over, climbed aboard and raised my tripod to its maximum (no centre post but it's the four section legs RRS so it goes sig. above my eye height (5 foot 9 in my dotage).

I did have a short stool in my previous car - time to dust it off. Oddly, there's a lot of editing to this image. For a start, it's four vertical images stitched horizontally - just what worked while perched on my trestle - then there were a couple of areas of green in the background that needed to be toned back and a hint of magenta added. The sun started to peek through for the right sided images and the boiler in the background was too intense in colour - so a bit of desaturation and less yellow.

There was a cob web - so the healing brush, and a small amount of pigeon poop on the saddle - so a little bit more. I used Akvis Enhancer, toned back to 75% then entirely masked out, and only brought back on a very small section of the front of the saddle (where the focus is). There's no blur in this image - just shallow depth of field with my 120 macro at f5.6

I cropped a little off the left and right and bottom - the sides to reduce the amount of light area, and the bottom to bring the edge closer to the dropped part of the saddle.

I do wonder if a little field blur in the upper right corner might be appropriate. Might try it - soften that sharp edge between very dark and very light.

Rusty Container

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I quite like this image from earlier today. Not entirely sure about the white in the fire pit. I already cropped a little off the bottom to minimize it and still wonder if I should take it out entirely, but I'll put the print up on the office wall and live with it for several days before making a decision.

I've just made a print and compared to what I'm seeing here it looks a bit flat, so I'm adding a little contrast - see if I can get closer to what is on the screen. Image colour is not too difficult to match but brightness can be a bugger - even though I have screen brightness set way down as per the colourimeter (Colormunki).  Yep, the second print is better - an S shaped curve adjustment layer, no masking.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Peony Post Prime

Pentax 645Z, 120 macro, shot indoors.  I used a combination of shallow depth of field with judicious use of field blur and gaussian blur applied selectively via layer duplication and masking.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

This, That, and the Other

Interestingly, the first and last are lit with artificial light. I picked up some 312 LED barn doored variable colour rechargeable battery operated lights and stands. I was very afraid of an artificial look to the images but compared to the flat lighting of the second and third images, I'm thinking I should reshoot some of the farm implements with some additional lighting to add some directionality.

I really like the LED lights - cool, compact, no power requirements, can take an umbrella. Perhaps not bright enough for hand holding and moving objects like portraits, but for the work I do....

I also like that I can control the colour temperature. Yes, I realize I could get a brighter output with non adjustable temp light, but for balancing the available light and to give realistic highlights and shadowing, very nice thank you.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pioneer Acres- Black And White Or Colour

They're different shots so a straight out comparison isn't fair - but working on the top image it seemed to make sense to go to black and white to avoid the distractions. Given the lower image is more tightly cropped, I liked the colour and in fact feel this is the stronger image - a series of diagonal lines and the complete wheel.

1949 Cadillac

A little change of pace - not only a car, but shallow depth of field too, and I'm quite happy with the result.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Johnston's Canyon 2015

This image was made from two shots, 75 or 120 mm. lens, the former I think, with the Pentax 645Z, shot from the bridge over the lower falls pool.I did think to increase contrast and make it 'zippier' but prefer this rather muted version. I did use Akvis Enhancer, but with a black mask and then painted into the mask, mostly in the lower dark rocks and pool.

Ken and I had a good day - I made it to the upper falls and my iPhone tells me I climbed 31 flights of stairs, took some 12000 steps and traveled some 7.8 km - certainly by far the most I have walked since the hip replacement.

Given we woke at 3 to leave Calgary at 4 to be at the canyon at 6:10 and beat the crowd, that I'm stiff and tired to night - well that's ok. We did meet a few people in the canyon at 6:30, but were the first vehicle in the parking lot - I was tempted to auction off our prime spot in the parking lot as we left.

The interesting thing about this shot is that everyone has made it - literally a million tourists over the years, but I'm guessing few framed it this way, and if next week I discover someone else has, well that's fine.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Jura Canyon 2015

I started the day with my 25 mm. lens on the Pentax 645Z - but noticed exposures weren't right - and I hadn't screwed up the settings. Checked the lens to see if I'd taken it off of auto aperture - and notice the lens seemed a tad loose, and on further inspection, very loose - between the base section and the middle section - and it wasn't quite square either. Odd, as I'd used it not long before. It will have to go in for repair.

Spent the day using the 35 mm. lens - smaller, lighter, sharper at the edges, but obviously not as wide - so did a lot of backing up, and much more stitching than I'd normally do with this camera. Where I needed both great depth of field as well as stitching, I shot at f22 and got pretty decent coverage from front to back of the images, as well as decent sharpness. On this oversized sensor camera, f22 is eminently useable, which it never was on 35 mm. cameras.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Britannia Mine

Really pushing the boundaries of acceptable sharpness, yet I like the effect. The exposure is .6 seconds, f4, ISO 1600, shot as the mine train bounced it's way along the tunnel. The goggle 'eyes' are ear defenders, the hanging yellow can, the bell.

These three images are from the main building, where the ore was crushed.