Friday, 26 February 2016

Day Three - Framing

     Day three of the 5 day photo challenge was all about framing. So far this challenge has been spread across a couple of weeks rather than days but I blame that on the horrible rain scaring me away from going outside!
     This challenge was about looking for an interesting way of framing the subject using different objects. I went to Oxford for a day out with my oldest friend Missi who I hadn't seen in ages. It was a gloriously sunny day and we had a nice wander around the city. I wanted to go to the botanical gardens at Oxford University as I had read up on them having lots of greenhouses full of different types of plants and I thought I could get some good pictures.
     I managed to take some cheeky portraits using all of the leaves and plants in the greenhouses as a natural frame! I quite liked how these images turned out, the soft focus of the leaves drew you into the subject nicely.

Another of my favourites was the image below where I used a decorative gate to frame her, I liked the shadows and the fact that the light from behind highlights the subject of the photo. 

I also managed to take some quite nice close up pictures of flowers, I was using my 35mm prime lens which has a super wide aperture of 1.8, great for getting shallow depth of field and lovely blurry backgrounds.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

First lesson In Image Retouching

     I have spent the last week watching another course, this weeks lesson was called "Retouching Bridal Portraits". It covers all different ways of enhancing and retouching different types of portraits. I have done a little bit of retouching in the past, but this was a really great eye opener into better practises of using lots of layering and masking so you don't make changes to an image that can't be undone if you make a mistake. I liked the face that the course focused on enhancing what was already there rather than completely changing the person in the photo. 
     I have tried out a few of my own images from the archives, turns out I really don't have a lot of good quality portraits to mess around with! So these were the best I can do and my sister is a little mad I picked a "moody" photo of her... Sorry Flo...

This first image I chose was based on one of the images on the  course being backlit. I got rid of some flyaway hairs, retouched small areas with lens glare and warmed up and brightened the whole image. The screen shot below shows some of the many layers and masks I used in creating this image.

     This next one is a holiday photo of one my oldest friend Missi, this one didn't have too much work done to it. I cleaned up the background, smoothed the skin and brightened up the teeth and sunglasses and added some contrast and curves adjustments. 

This final image was by Hannah Nichols from Pink kitten Dance School where I take aerial circus classes. I chose it because it gave me a chance to try lots of different types of clean up on the background. I used lots of different filters to remove the dust and add blur. I also copied areas of the curtain across to cover the lights before blending these in and adding spotlights and colour edits in the Camera Raw filter tool. 

I still need a lot of practise with this but it is good to know some more skills and tools I can use to clean up images and enhance them in a natural way. 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Day 2 - Searching for lines

     Ok so the last blog post I wrote was day 1 of a composition photography challenge searching out interesting light. This day's challenge we were meant to keep searching for light, but look for interesting compositional lines as well!

     It was a horribly rainy saturday, me and the boyf decided to go to theWildlife Photographer of the year exhibition at M Shed in Bristol. It is definitely worth a visit, some truly incredible photos, though I suggest avoiding weekends when it is raining as it was full of noisy kids and we queued to get in...

     I took a grand total of around 12 photos because I hate rain, and there really wasn't much interesting light to be found on such a grey day. Bristol is famous for having rows of colourful houses in some areas and I loved the look of these pastel coloured ones by the waterway. 

There was a dreary blue colour cast which I fixed, I also brightened up the sky and saturation a little to try and bring this image out of the grey. 

This second image is a few more houses, I really liked the line of aerials against the sky like little wire flags!

     My final images were of some very rustic looking cranes by the waterside. I wanted these to be quite monochrome against the stark sky so I pushed down the saturation and exaggerated the lights and darks to make the images more contrasty. 

     In all I could have spent more time taking photos this day, I like these few but I would like to have spent more time if it hadn't been raining so horribly!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Starting Fresh

     So it is still very much feeling like new year for me. I know it is February, but since I spent most of January in America travelling and then coming home and being jet-lagged I am still very much in the "new year" mindset. It has been a long time since I posted on this blog. The last few posts have been me sharing interesting artsy things I have found and it feels like a very long time since I did anything super creative! 

     Time really starts to fly when you finish university, it has been over 2 years now and I have decided to get motivated and take some time to focus on getting my skill set back up and focusing on learning some new things. I have had an account with for a long time now, they have a huge range of tutorials on all manner of design/marketing/software subjects. 

     So the first thing I have decided to focus on is photography. I have always been interested in photography, most of my experimentation has been as a self taught amateur with a lot of make shift tools but I just bought myself a new camera lens and wanted to try it out.

     I have taken two courses so far, one on Colour Correction in Lightroom and one on Low Light photography, both focused quite heavily on fixing White Balance in images after they have been taken. To start practising I also watched day one of a 5 day photo challenge which started with a challenge to go out searching for interesting light and see what you can come up with.

     These images include a couple I took of some flowers in my house when I first got the lens and the rest are from a walk I took all around Stoke Park Estate in Bristol. When walking around i tried to focus on finding areas where the light was bringing out highlights on leaves and trees.

     Ok so here is a little picture of my workspace on Lightroom. One of the biggest things I learnt on the Colour Correction course is how to use the Eyedropper tool to fix White Balance. Clicking on a neutral gray area of the image with this tool lets Lightroom know how to balance all the colours out if there is any kind of colour cast. Aside from some shadow and highlight edits the edit above was done in One click! I can't believe I have wasted my life fiddling around with colours when it was this easy...

     Now the outdoor images were much more of an issue as there wasn't any kind of neutral gray area of the picture to use as reference. I did most of these edits based on the histogram, pulling the temperature and tint sliders up and down until the colours moved to the right place. 

     Now as someone who has spent the last 8 years using artistic license rather than actual colour science I have to say I am feeling a little skeptical about this. The image above was colour corrected to the one on the right, but i much prefer the left hand image straight out of camera. It is safe to say you can follow the science all you want but this won't always make an image you like, it is worth moving away from rules every once in a while if you prefer the artistic outcome.

     I think the biggest things I got from this course are interpreting histograms, knowing how to use different tools to change the histogram data and also using clipping measures to stop blowing out shadows and highlights. I will definitely combine these skills with my own artistic eye, but I feel happy in the knowledge that I know a bit more about the colour science. 

     Here are some of my favourite images from todays edit: