Category Archives: photography

spring is on the way

… and the crocuses are coming up in our yard.

20090228-DSC_0458 20090228-DSC_0490 20090228-DSC_0499


Times like this make me want to buy a macro lens.  Still – these aren’t bad – 50mm 1.4.

orton effect redux

Okay – the pictures I posted for the orton don’t really show well subsampled as they were.  Let’s try it again, with a detailed portion of the flower picture.

20080226-DSC_4418---detail 20080226-DSC_4418---cropped---orton---detail-

Here, you can better see the effect that the gaussian blur and intra-layer blends have.  The detail on the petals is lost, giving almost a painted look.  This close up, you can see the color shift effect that the blurring has on the flower’s pistil (particularly the edges of the stigma).  As I mentioned yesterday, I "punched out" the rough shape of the stigma to keep its focus sharp.  It’s a nice complement to the soft look of the petals.

If I’d been more patient, I might have spent time trying to get the stigma’s mask correct (eliminating the fringing).  That was more work than I wanted to do.  I also don’t mind the way the picture looks at its ordinary magnification and crop.

Here’s a bit of detail from the picture of the Olympics too.

DSC_4405---detail DSC_4405---orton---detail

The effect is very pronounced on the detail of the mountain.  The color shift that the blending induces is very nice – really accentuates the orange light of the sunrise.

I’ll probably play around a bit with different subjects, and different blur coefficients (I used 12 for this one) … this sort of thing can be very hit or miss.

the orton effect

From time to time I’ll trade Photography tips with my friend Ben.  Unfortunately, he shoots with Canon equipment, so his pictures almost never come out, but occasionally he’ll happen across something useful.

As so it is with the Orton Effect.  Essentially this is a trick using blurs between layers, that yields a sort of painterly effect.  It can be hit or miss, but when it works it’s pretty nice.  Check out the following examples (‘normal’ picture is first, you may have to click to get the larger picture in order to see a significant difference).

DSC_4405 DSC_4405 orton

In the following picture, the cropping is a bit different (too lazy to generate a similar ‘normal’ picture).  The other thing I did was to erase the stamens from the the sharp and out of focus layers.  The blending creates a much softer look than I wanted for them, so I tried ‘punching out’ the areas I wanted to keep sharp.  I like it, and it wasn’t that much work.

20080226-DSC_4418 20080226-DSC_4418---cropped---orton-

Photoshop users should try it out – doesn’t take long and it’s an interesting way to present landscapes and still lifes.

good morning

What a sunrise this morning!


I shot this from our deck at 200mm.  I did a bit of post-processing on this picture, increasing the contrast a bit to emphasize the mountains, and notching the saturation up on the highlights.  The colors were pretty much as you see them here though.  When the mountains come out like this in wintertime, it’s like a veil lifts on everyone’s spirits.

art is in the eye of the buyer

I had a bit of excitement the week before last.  Six of my photos were auctioned off for the benefit of the kids’ school.  Together they raised nearly $800.  That blew me away, and made me feel very nice.

In the back of my mind, I’d worried that the pictures would end up not being bid upon, or going for significantly less than market value (about $100).  It’s always difficult to tell whether art will sell or not, because it’s so subjectively appealing.  A couple of them did go for under market, but somehow it didn’t matter as much because I liked them a lot anyway.  Most of the money was raised by a group of three pictures I took on a trip to Sydney in 2004.

My favorite of the group was of the opera house, with the Harbour Bridge in the background with a group of climbers ascending.  I took it from Macquarie Point, a good distance away.

I took the second from the base of the opera house, hours after landing, while out sightseeing with my work colleagues.  The opera house is a great subject, owing to its interesting textures.

The third in the group was taken about the same time as the second, and explores the contours of the opera house roof.

Our friends Heidi and Bruce purchased one of my favorites of the Sydney pictures, a shot taken from a water taxi of Luna Park, an amusement park at foot of the northern end of the Harbour Bridge.  I love the dynamic range, which really comes out in the duotone print.

The other two were shots that I took much closer to home.  First was a study of some petrified wood taken at the interpretive center of the Ginko Petrified Forest in the amusingly named George, Washington.

The final picture holds a special place in my heart.  I took it in front of our pond house, with my old 3 MPixel coolpix 990.  It was a cold spring day, and the crocuses had just come up.  It was nice picture in color, that really came alive in tritone (with the colors gone, you can really see the detail of the raindrops on the petals).

I’d originally framed these pictures to hang in an exhibition at Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church (believe it or not, that’s a story in its own right). 

Since we’d moved into our new (old) place last year, they’d been sitting wrapped in paper, unhung.  It’s great to see them find good homes, and gratifying that they brought in money for the school!

an early spring?

This past Saturday was sunny and unseasonably warm (about 60).  Apparently this fooled some of the bulbs in our yard into coming up a bit early.  I used the opportunity to experiment some with my 105 mm macro lens. 

For many of this first set, I used the default macro program on the camera, meaning a very narrow depth of field.  Results are below :



So – I liked these, but was a bit frustrated at how often I’d fight the narrow depth of field and the wind.  That evening, I did some more experimenting with some roses in a vase in our kitchen.  For these I went up as high as f40 – settling on f11-16 as providing the effect I wanted :

I liked the two above (f16 and f22 respectively), as the blurred outer petals frame the detail in the inner petals.  The wider depth of field allows me to see into the flower enough to make it interesting.  But – then I tried taking another picture at narrow DOF again, this time farther back :

See – I like this one too.  Given the distance to the subject, and the viewing angle, there’s enough detail in range to make the interesting too.  So what I’m learning (again) is that it’s all about composition and technique.  Which is really too bad, as it’s much easier to throw more equipment at the problem :).