Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Steam Rally and Post Processing!

On Sunday I took my boys along to the Deeside Steam and Vintage Rally at Milton of Crathes. Seemed like a good opportunity to take some photos... Now I normally favour landscapes and more wild environments, however, all the colourful steam engines were too good to miss.

The show ground was very busy, and the weather was reasonably bright, with the sun making a few appearances throughout the day.

This seems like a good opportunity to start talking about software and post processing photos. Now I will not claim to be an expert in this field, however, I have played around with Photoshop and several other photo-editing packages on and off for many years. We use Photoshop at work and I know enough about it to muddle through some minor edits with it. On my personal computer, I have been using Serif PhotoPlus for many years. It may not be the professionals choice, but I have found it covers everything that 99% of people could possibly need.


With the following photos, I will give both the unedited photo, straight from the camera and the finished image that I have tidied up and adjusted to improve the final look.

I took quite a few photos on the day. These are my favourites.  Camera: Nikon D3300 with 18-55mm lens. Post Processed in Serif PhotoPlus X8

First up we have a nice crisp miniature steam engine. The gorgeous red colour really stood out on the green grass. The photo straight from the camera was OK, but it was a little washed out, so I played around with the Levels and also the contrast. It gave the final version a lot more punch! I also cropped the image, just a little, to try to remove some of the uninteresting background. The engine was attached to a trailer, and I tried to crop as much of it as possible. I may go back later on and remove the trailer completely with the Clone Tool (see the last photo in this set).


This next couple of photos share some similar aspects. The layout of each photo is virtually the same, with the gravel in the foreground and trees and sky in the background. There was also quite a lot of steam/smoke around too. The first one was pretty good straight from the camera. I gave it a slight crop, adjusted the levels a little and the used Dodge and Burn around the foreground and background to emphasize the steam engine.


I did much the same with this one although I think I may have overdone the Dodge and Burn a bit...


This row of vintage cars was in amongst a tightly packed section, and it was also very busy, with people walking around. As such, it was very difficult to get a good shot of the cars without too much distraction. The photo turned out pretty well and only needed a minor crop and a little tweaking of the colours.


The final photo is of a small steam train that runs alongside the showground. The colours were pretty good and just needed a little brightening up. I did crop the image quite a bit, removing the station house and then used the Clone Tool to remove the small table on the platform.


 I am reasonably happy with these photos, and as they were all taken while simply wandering around with my boys, I don't think they are half bad. I do look forward to visiting a location by myself, so that I can really experiment and take my time preparing the shots.



Friday, 12 August 2016

Dawn over the Don


Taken with a Samsung Galaxy S4 through a moving bus window...


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Egret at Loch of Strathbeg

We took the boys up to the RSPB nature reserve at The Loch of Strathbeg on Sunday for a couple of hours.

I didn't get many decent photos, as most of the birds were too far away for my 55-200mm lens to get any decent photos.

Here are a few of the better photos, featuring either the landscape or the local horses.

Firstly a simple landscape. I ran this through Photoshop to give it a bit more punch, as the dull weather (overcast and extremely windy), made everything a little grey...


Some of the horses that were roaming around did put on a show for us!



As I said earlier, the bird photos were a little disappointing.

I did catch a few shots of a lone Egret (that was clearly a long way from home...). But they were at such a great distance that I really am only showing them for the bird watchers to see rather than as examples of photography.

This first one shows the kind of distance that the bird was from  our hide.


These two photos are blown up from much more distant shots...



Finally a very rough and ready little animation that Google backup automatically generated from several photos of the Egret moving around the wetland.


Monday, 8 August 2016

Glen Tanar


I took this photo while walking in the Glen Tanar estate, on Deeside. I was with a large group of people and we stopped for a break at this stone bridge. I managed to catch a moment when there actually wasn't anyone on the bridge and got the perfect spot.

I am very pleased with the framing of the shot with the trees at either side. The greens are lovely and the hint of peaty brown in the water really adds to the effect.

I would like to play with the exposure a little more as I feel that some of the highlights are a little burned out, but generally, I am very satisfied with it.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Where to Begin...

This is a new start for me!

I used to do a lot of photography when I was at art school, and then afterward for a few years. I even worked in a camera shop for a year and a half, before moving on with my career. I don't think that I am a particularly talented photographer, I have taken some good photos over the years, but they are still hit and miss, I have been lucky with some photos and I still have my fair share of failures.

For many years I have only owned a camera for family holidays and to record my sculptural and model making work. Of course, I have also had a camera on my phone for a few years.

For several years I have had the growing urge to get a digital SLR and start taking photos purely for pleasure again. Earlier this year I sold some work unexpectedly and ended with some spare cash. This was the perfect opportunity to scratch the itch and buy a camera. I bought a Nikon D3300 along with two lenses, an 18-55mm lens and a 55-200mm lens.

I have decided to start this blog as a way to document my progress, and hopefully, reflect my development as a photographer. I will post photos, both old and new, occasionally discuss equipment (although, on a limited budget, I will not be buying much more for a while) and also look at the software that I use.

For now, I will start things rolling with a photo I took around 11 years ago. This was taken with a phone camera (long before phones were "smart"). As far as I recall the phone only had a 2mp camera and so the photo is very pixilated when enlarged. A shame as I love the light and mist. I would really like to take this one again with a decent camera...


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