60 Seconds of Beauty

Dead Horse Point at Sunset

It only took me 3 years to pull this together, but here it is, finally.

When I went to Arches in May of 2010, I shot a short series of stills from Dead Horse Point as the sun went down. My intention at the time was to animate it.  I dropped the color because it wasn’t adding anything. The point was to capture the movement of the light and that is stronger in B&W.

I think its simple, but powerful.

I hope you like it.

(It looks way better if you view it from Vimeo – click on the vimeo tag on the bottom right)

The Rowley Family

My cousin asked me to do some family portraits for them. Their two youngest sons were leaving for LDS missions and this would be the last time the entire family would be together for awhile. So they wanted to get some pictures.

They wanted it outside, but this is the middle of Feburary in Idaho and there ain’t much out there this time of year. So we went with an indoor session.

Now this isn’t a small family. There were 32 people, 14 grandkids. I shot individual shots of each grandchild, family shots of the parents with their kids, just their kids, just them and a few of the kids families. It was a busy time – somewhere in the neighborhood of 450 shots. It was fun .

I edited and rough finished all of the pictures except the 3-4 biggest group pictures in 2 days. The big group pictures took a bit longer since I had to move faces around and extend the background, and do my other job. I finished and posted everything in a week.

Here are the proofs.

Gallery_2013 Rowley Proofs

What I really love…

I love photography. I love beautiful images.  I love looking at them, making them, surrounding myself with them. I really do.

This journey started when I was a Boy Scout working on my Photography Merit Badge. My counselor took me into his dark room to show me how to develop a picture. To this day I remember that moment, watching that image appear in the developer. It was the single most magical moment of my life. I was hooked. So I started taking pictures, earned a degree in it, worked in studios. My strengh was in the darkroom which was good, because my bosses liked to shoot. Then I quit. I didn’t like it anymore. Something was missing.

Then digital came along and I started playing again. I missed the dark room, but I was amazed with what I could do in Photoshop. So I started almost all over again. I’ve been shooting a lot, but I’ve been spending most of my time in Lightroom and Photoshop. I love what I can do to an image, how I can make it better, stronger, more interesting. So I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back into the game. To do something I really enjoy and get paid for it. To be able to spend the time at it to get really good.

It finally hit me a couple of weeks ago. It only took me 35 years. I shoot as a means to another end. What I really enjoy, what I’ve always enjoyed is the post work. The darkroom and now Photoshop. I’m a sloppy shooter, I’m technically tight in post work. I’ve always shot as an input to the post. So I going to concentrate my efforts there. I’m exploring if I can build a business doing post work. I’m liking this concept.

In the mean time, here are a couple of images I’ve restored recently. The first one is my wife as a baby. I was able to clean up the damage of a lot of years of neglect and abuse. She was very excited. 

I posted my wife’s baby picture on my Facebook account to show it off. My uncle saw it and asked if I could do something with a picture he had. It’s a picture of my cousin when she was much younger. It was pretty faded and he can’t find the negative.

First I just popped what was there. 

Then I did some handcoloring to give her skin/hair and the fence some color. 

They both turned out really nice – and I enjoyed the process. Now, how to get people to pay me for this…

New Gallery – Bosie – Portrait of a City

I finally found a gallery tool that I really like. It’s called CE2 Highslide Gallery by TheTurningGate. It is a Lightroom Gallery Plugin.

For my first Gallery using it I added my Boise – Portrait of a City gallery. I picked up a couple of photo books on Boise awhile ago and I was irritated by the lack of quality images. So I decided to see what I could do. I’m just getting started. I went down last Thanksgiving evening and started (2011, not this year). Then my lens broke off the front of my camera which made it difficult to shot. It did give me an excuse to buy a new camera though. So I pulled out my Fuji X100 and finished with that. Then I went down the other morning and got some city waking up shots. I’ll increase the frequency and start adding to this.

Here’s the direct link to the gallery. You can also link to it through the Gallery Page.

Boise City Portrait Project

One very cool function of this tool is that it links to Google Maps. If you click on the globe icon it will open Google Maps to the location I took the picture. Now, my camera does NOT do this for me, but I tried to find the correct coordinates for each picture.


The camera that is with you…

Sunsets are fleeting, unpredictable things. Sometimes you just grab them. And the only way to grab one is to have something to grab it with.

We stopped in Burley to get gas. I always stop in Burley to get gas. Not sure why. But as I walked back to the truck I saw probably the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen. The only camera I had with me was my phone. So I snapped 3 quick shots before it disappeared. A little Photo shop love and here you go. It’s not technically brilliant, but I can share it and remember that amazing sight.

Engagement Composite

This is the composite I put together of our Engagement images. I wanted something a little more personal, that would show more of our personalities than just a single image.

Here’s a list of the elements I used and what I was thinking when I used them:

  • Background with our shadow. Provides a nice base layer but still ties everything together with the directional shadow shapes.
  • Floating leaves. They add an earthy feel – fills the blank spaces.
  • Handwriting adds a level of meaning, expands the story line and adds an organic element.
  • A scan of the pot Cheryl built on our first ‘date’. This provides a touch of the history of the relationship. That ugly little pot has become very significant to the relationship.
  • A hand colored couple shot. I like the feel of that look, as I’ve talked about in the last couple of posts.  The more graphic, less detailed treatment softens the overall piece.
  • An aged black and white couple shot. This adds a sense of time to the image. It provides a sense of history, one that doesn’t exist yet, but hopefully will be long and rich.

This isn’t mind shattering, but I think it shows a positive progression.

Hand Coloring – RGB vs. CMYK

In my last post I explored Hand Coloring an image. I used the RGB Color Mode. The tutorial I was kind of following said to use CMYK. At the time I thought RGB worked fine. In fact I mentioned that in the previous post, that he said to use CMYK and I used RGB.

The reason I used RGB? Because it is my default mode and by the time I remember to change it to CMYK I’ve done most of my mods and added a bunch of layers that are deleted when I move from RGB to CMYK. (big breath) It’s called stupid laziness. Not really a suggested design strategy. Although I expect most of us practice it more often then we’d like to admit.

I liked the affect so I decided to try it again on another engagement image I’m using as an element in a composite. As before, I did all my mods and adjustments then started my hand color process before I thought to change to CMYK. Of course I didn’t want to lose my previous work, so I just kept going. Later, it started to bug me. So I decided to do it again, this time using CMYK.

This is the side by side comparison of the two treatments. The first is RGB. The second is CMYK:

I expected the difference in having the black channel would give me control over the luminance within the color. And I was right. That additional channel allows you to dial in the lunimance of the color.  While the RGB mode worked, the CMYK provides more control and more depth.

I still like the first one I did, but for this one, I preferred the CMYK version better. It had more depth, the colors were more natural and overall it was easier to get what I wanted.

Hand Color Engagement Image

We did family pictures and engagement pictures a couple of weeks ago. It was a big shoot. I did 2 studio setups and 2 locations for 5 kids and 1 adult, in 3 different groups – her kids, my kids and our kids. Then I handed my camera to my daughter and she did couple shots for the engagement, both studio and on location. First I went through the family and kid pictures which I posted in my previous entry. Then I moved on to the engagement image.

There was one picture I really liked. The composition was good, the moment was great. Lighting was alright. It was almost a wonderful shot, but it needed something. And going in I wanted to do something with some grit, some character.

I started with this (after basic LightRoom adjustments, cropping):

I went out to the internet and searched for Photoshop Instagram effects – looking for ideas. I found a couple that I liked, one using a Threshold adjustment and one on Hand Coloring.

I started with an exploratory and came up with the following:

Then I started with a new canvas and built the final, using higher resolution images:

The Steps to build the final image:

–   Background copy – no changes made

  • In the exploratory I added grain to this level, but decided I liked it better without

–  Converted to Black and white

  • I did this in two layers, one for Scott’s face and the area below the window (B&W Scott) and one for everything else.  When I lightened the faces by adding Yellow and Red it was losing highlight on Scott’s forehead against the wall. And the colored area below the window was losing its detail – I wanted to maintain enough to color.
  • B&W Scott (masked)
  • Reds: 40
  • Yellows: 60
  • Greens: 40
  • Cyans: 60
  • Blues: 20
  • Magentas: 80
  • B&W Cheryl (masked)
  • Reds: 79Yellows: 11
  • Greens: 40
  • Cyans: 79
  • Blues: 71
  • Magentas: 80

–  I added a Threshold Adjustment layer to drop out the fine details and add a graphic feel.

  • On the exploratory I got a lot more texture – but when I used it on the higher resolution image the range was much finer so I didn’t get the same amount of texture.
  • Had to adjust the Threshold level and the Opacity to get the affect I wanted.
    • Threshold Level: 76
    • Opacity: 12%
  • I had issues with the shadow areas
    • Blocked the hair out on the Threshold layer.
    • I had other shadow areas that were very blotchy, I decreased those shadows using the Localized Burn/Lighten layer until the blotch went away. This worked really well

–  Added Blank Layer for localized Burn/Lighten

        • Blend Mode: Overlay

–  Added Blank Layer for localized Burn/Lighten around Cheryl’s lips

        • Blend Mode: Overlay

–  Added Curves Adjustment Layers to hand color individual areas. Selected the area to be colored, then added the Curves Adjustment Layer, which masked out the selected area

        • Skin
        • Scott’s Hair
        • Cheryl’s Hair
        • Window Shadow
        • Below Window
        • Window frame
        • Scott’s Shirt
        • Far Right Shadow

The Tutorial I used said to change the Image Mode to CMYK. That adds the black layer. But I used the default RGB image mode.

I really like the way this turned out. It gave me just enough graphic grit and dropped out some of the fine detail.  That actually solved some of my lighting challenges on my face by softening the shadows. The hand color gives it a soft translucent watercolor look.

Here’s the final:

Here’s what I started with, for side by side comparison: