Collab Post: Hack My Photo! #1

Alright, dear readers, Kate here.  Today’s a special day for all of you!  Today, Anne and I have teamed up for a post!  It’s a new thing we’ll be repeating a lot as we get this whole “post a blog post” thing under our belts.  Today’s collaboration is called Hack My Photo! and here are the rules:

  1. You choose a photo for your partner in crime to edit.
  2. This photo cannot be more than a year old.
  3. You have a set time limit to edit the photo you are given.  Our time limit is 30 minutes.

And that’s it.  Pretty easy.  Except when you’re editing a photo you didn’t take.

Here’s the original photo Anne sent to me unedited, followed by the original unedited photo I sent to her.

Anne's original photo.

Anne’s original photo.

Kate's original photo

Kate’s original photo.

We’ll start with my edits because I’m the one typing this up.  When editing photos, I don’t usually even think to crop them.  This is because my shooting style is to zoom in/out to get the shot I want or move around until it’s framed the way I want it without me having to crop it in post.  So then, my first thought with the photo I was given was to bring out some sunlight and brighten the sky up a bit since it looks like it was a dreary day the day this photo was taken.  I did all of that in Camera Raw by adjusting the exposure and brightness and such.  I fiddled with specific colors’ saturation levels to try to get the sky even the tiniest bit more blue, but couldn’t make it work.  So I took the photo into Photoshop.  My go-to edit is Linear Contrast, so I slapped that on before doing anything else.  I love the way it looks.  From there, I did some more hue altering and brought out the blue in the sky by using the magic wand to select the sky area, making a new layer, adjusting the hue and saturation, and then changing that layer’s opacity to make it look more natural and less obviously edited.  I also did something similar to get the dark colors darker – I copied the original layer in Photoshop and layered it on with Darken and adjusted the opacity until I had it where I like it.  I tend to like darker photos with heavier contrast, and that’s what I ended up doing with this one.

Edited only in Camera Raw.

Edited only in Camera Raw by Kate.

Continued edits in Photoshop.

Continued edits in Photoshop by Kate.

 

Anne's edit of her own photo.

Anne’s edit of her own photo.

And now, here’s Anne’s bit, as written by her:

When I first saw this photo I loved the colors, the purple, yellow, white and bright spring green. So I opened it and got into editing it. However, because I am OCD or ADHD or whatever other acronym you want to throw in there my eye kept being drawn to the brown curly leaf(?) behind the iris. So I thought okay I will take this into PS and be done with it… I forgot about the fuzzy yellow stuff! So to cut a long story short it was just too much work in the 30 min time limit we gave ourselves. I liked the daisies on the right side and so I just went with them. For the first edit after doing a screen layer and a multiply layer and flattening them both in-between I went into the lens distort filter and added a small vignette and then a small bowing of the lens to give it a miniscule fisheye effect but in reality to bring the front flower and stem closer. The second part I didn’t crop as close as I wanted more of the vignette and more of the colors. I love the hint of pink in it. For the last one I cropped it closer but I’m not sure if I am happy with the results as you can see grain/noise in the photo. If I had more time I would probably go back in there with my pen and get all the fuzzy yellow stuff and use the picture as a whole but my (acronym here) wouldn’t let me.

 

Anne's first  edit.

Anne’s first edit.

Anne's second edit.

Anne’s second edit.

Anne's third edit.

Anne’s third edit.

Kate's edit.

Kate’s edit of her own photo.

 

Kate here again to send you off, dear readers.  What do you think?  Do you think our editing styles are similar?  Would you have edited either photo differently?  Let us know in the comments!  We’d love to hear from you, our lovely readers!

Get out there and shoot!

Kate & Anne

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It’s the little things

Perfect perfect! I cant wait to get home and get it off the camera. *later* WHAT??!! It didn’t look like that on the camera display!

Ever had one of those shots? They are probably the most common type of shots. Its why most of us have 500+ photos from a trip we went on and only publish 20. I have them all the time! I hate them! They are the bane of my existence, well at least the bane of my computer storage. So here are a few tips that help bring that 20/500 ratio to a more solid 250/500. You friends and family will then be overwhelmed with all the photos you took!

The first problem is how the display on your camera shows the photos. This varies from camera to camera, brand to brand, and greatly affects how  you see your photos! Now the first question is did you change anything in the Picture Styles(C)/Picture controls(N) in your camera? Did you know you could? That would be the first thing to check. The second is do you shoot in RAW or in JPEG. To K.I.S.S. on the difference between RAW and JPEG lets just say that the RAW file is bigger/better for the simple reason that it contains more data. I can’t get into all the deep details in this post because it would be epically long but it would be in your best interest to dig  more into you camera settings themselves. As Kate has a Nikon and I have a Canon maybe we will do a collab post in the future on our settings.

The second problem, lets be honest, is being in focus. There is no amount of sharpening that can fix an unfocused photo. There is no option to go back and hit that exact same spot at the exact same time under the exact same conditions. So take your time, no rush, and FOCUS. Also if you are doing manual focus make sure you dont bump, or do if you need to, the little +/- dial thingy (no idea what its called diopter adjustment dial). It might also help, especially if you are going to be printing or submitting to a contest to buy a LCD loupe. Now if you know photography you know that a loupe is typically used to look at negatives up close, you also might recognize it as what your cartoon favorites always pull out to inspect diamonds. Now if you are going to have a diamond sharp photo you need one of these to check your focus before you are all packed up and enjoying a nice drink in front of your computer. They can run between 15$ and 100$ depending on what you want.

The third most common problem is from your computer to paper, PRINTING! It can suck. The first thing you should invest in after your camera and computer is a monitor calibration tool. Now many people will tell you they can trust their eyes or know what their prints will look like and to you I say….

How many white or was it black dots do you see?

As you can see, between our eyes and our brains there can be some variance in communication. When you spend three or four hours in front of your computer this can become exacerbated. Colors may even begin to switch on you, even if you just sat down. Even blue light cutting glasses won’t save you here!

If you stare at the blinking pink dots, you will see only one color, pink. If you look at the the + in the center, you’ll see a circle of pink dots and a rotating green dot. Now, stare at the + without moving your eyes. After ten seconds scroll down a bit and watch a bright green circle appear to move with you *Click on the image to be taken to the site its from*

The last and but not least remember you can adjust your white balance and exposure when you do it get home. Many find it helpful to shoot +1 or more exposure wise because you can always go in and darken what you need to, while on the other hand its a lot harder to bring things out of the shadows.

Here is a before and after of the same version and while it may not be a big difference, it is big enough to post or to trash in my opinion.

Original Shot

Before

As you can see dull, gray and boring. I like the darkness of it myself and the shadows in the background but this photo doesn’t say Japanese Sakura like it should.

After

As you can see in the second photo a bit brighter, colors with a little more pop and not so heavy on the shadows. All changes were done in Camera Raw itself and didn’t step into full photoshop.

Its the little changes and steps that make a difference in your photos. Its the time you take and the effort you make.

-Don’t be afraid to push the button, go on, PUSH IT!

~Anne

Get a Different Perspective

Don’t you just hate when the photography bug bites and you’re somewhere that you’ve been a thousand times before and it just sucks because there’s nothing to really inspire you?  You just sit around the park by your house or the lake at your family’s summer cabin, camera in hand, staring wistfully at the screen or through the view finder.  All you can manage are a few family photos that you’re basically forced to take just because you have the “nicest camera!”

In these situations, you have to force yourself to think outside the box.  When you’re at Grandma’s house for the millionth time, you can’t expect to find the same tree that’s been in the front yard since your mom was born as interesting as it was the first twenty times you photographed it.

This advice comes from personal experience: don’t be afraid to get a little dirty.  Get on your knees.  Lie on your back.  Get a little closer than you usually would.  Move a little farther away.  Look at your surroundings from a different perspective.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Take a walk around and make a note of the things you have photographed a thousand times before.  Think about where you usually stand or what angle you usually take the photos at.  Then don’t do those things.  Do something different.  And again, don’t be afraid to get dirty!  I was up to my eyes in this tall grass in a ditch on the side of a dirt road.  Bug bites galore, but I love this shot of my grandparent’s barn.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Us grandkids have always been told to stay away from the barn, which is falling apart at the seams.  But be willing to break the rules, so to speak.  Get up close and personal with something you’ve stayed away from.   Look critically around you and step outside your photography comfort zone to find a picture you wouldn’t have typically taken but will absolutely love.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Even things that you would normally take photos of (for me, that’s flowers) can become a source of inspired photographs – especially when the subject seems old hat.  It’s all a matter of twisting your body and holding your breath to get the shot.  Composition is, of course, important when searching for inspiration in everyday, familiar subjects.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Find things around you that you might take for granted.  For me, for this shot, this mobile hanging from Grandma’s laundry line has just always been a part of the scenery.  It never really stood out to me and I never had a reason to look twice at it.  Don’t get put in a situation like I did for this shot.  Grandma recently moved out of the house that she grew up in, that she raised her own children in, that I’ve spent quite a number of summers at.  She’s 92 years young and lives on a farm by her lonesome.  She decided that she didn’t need or want to care for a huge amount of land and a dilapidated house that had more problems than there were solutions.  My last trip to the farm was a few months ago when I visited for a few days to help her pack.  It was a bittersweet experience for me.  I’m 100% supportive of my grandmother’s decision to move to an apartment – she’s still completely capable of taking care of herself – but on the other hand, I’m going to miss the farm house and the creaky floor boards and the crab apples and the tire swing hanging from the tallest tree in the yard.  She ended up selling the house to a neighboring farmer who currently rent out the actual farm land.

The lesson to take from that story is don’t take anything for granted.  That old boat at the end of the dock at your cabin, the slide at the playground of the park next to your house, wherever you think you’ve already captured your favorite memories – look harder.  Look again.

Nikon D5100.  No editing.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. No editing.

Above is my ultimate “different perspective” photo.  It’s an old old old make-shift fence my grandfather put around Grandma’s little garden to keep the deer from eating everything.  Change your focus.  I have this picture focusing on the post and the background, too, but I like this one the best.  It’s such a small detail to focus on, something I typically wouldn’t look twice at.

That’s the whole point of photography, no matter what or where you’re shooting.  Always look at least twice!  Feel free to share your own stories about looking at things with a new perspective in the comments.

Get out there and shoot!

– Kate