The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts from the ‘Photography’ category

PIP Camera

Late last month I discovered a iPhone/iPad app that adds new life to photographs that I have taken.  The app is called PIP Camera-Selfie Cam&PIP Collage&Photo Editor.  This app provides the ability to quickly and easily be creative with your photographs.  The app includes an abundance of templates that allow you to do fun things with your photographs.  My favorite template by far is the snow globe template.  Here is a collection of some of my snow globe creations, using the PIP Camera app.

Snow GlobesSnow Globe Creations

Do you have an Android device?  PIP Camera is also available for Android devices.  What are you waiting for?  Install the app and have some fun!

Decisions, Decisions.

My head is full of thoughts related to photography editing choices.

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A few days ago I purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements 15. The software caught my eye, when I saw a video on Facebook of one of its editing features — changing a frown into a smile.  Adobe Photoshop Elements contains many more “fun” editing choices as well. When I first began to edit my images, I used Adobe Photoshop Elements. At that time Adobe Photoshop Elements was a much pared-down version of Adobe Photoshop. I recently read that Adobe Photoshop Elements now contains approximately 80% of the features found in Adobe Photoshop, including Adobe Camera RAW (ACR). The software sells for $89.99, but was on sale for $39.99 on Amazon. I pressed the buy button, without hesitation. Sitting on the back burner (and forming some of my justification for purchasing Adobe Photoshop Elements 15) is the thought that someday I would like to delete Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe CC), which I subscribe to on a monthly basis at a cost of $9.99/month.

Yesterday I received and installed Adobe Photoshop Elements 15. I used the software for a few minutes. Adobe Camera RAW doesn’t have near the bells and whistles that ACR has in Adobe CC. I was aware that ACR was a pared-down version, when I purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements. I used the “turn a frown into a smile” feature. That is a very cool editing feature! There is so much new about Adobe Photoshop Elements since I last used it. The last version I owned was Adobe Photoshop Elements 7. I placed two Adobe Photoshop Elements instructional books on my Amazon wish list. Neither book is available until January 2017.

Speaking of sitting on the back burner …

I reinstalled Adobe Photoshop CS5 yesterday morning and determined it is unusable to me, with my current photo editing workflow. Since September 2009, I photograph almost exclusively in the RAW format and use ACR to convert my RAW images. The highest ACR version available for Adobe Photoshop CS5 does not recognize my Olympus OM-D E-M1 digital camera. I could install the DNG converter and convert my RAW image to a Digital Negative (DNG), which would be recognized by Photoshop CS5. I choose not to add this conversion step to my workflow. I uninstalled Photoshop CS5.

Adobe no longer offers Photoshop as a stand-alone photo editor. Adobe Photoshop CS6 is the last stand-alone version of Photoshop, one version newer than what I own.   Adobe Photoshop CS6 DOES support my camera; however, it lacks some of the features that I use currently while editing images in Adobe CC. It is a possibility that I will purchase Photoshop CS6 sometime in the future. The software is currently available on Ebay, new in the box, at a reasonable price.

RAW image conversion is available in two other photo editing programs that I have used: Olympus Viewer 3 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I have not used either program extensively. Therefore, I cannot determine at the present time if either program would meet my RAW image conversion needs. The same is true for Adobe Photoshop Elements 15. I do not know, at the present time, if that program would meet my RAW image conversion needs.

Currently, I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom mainly for its organizer capabilities. I have tried other programs to organize my photographs and prefer Lightroom’s organizer. Therefore, I do not foresee eliminating Adobe Photoshop Lightroom from my photo editing tools. In addition to being part of Adobe CC, Adobe continues to offer Lightroom as a stand-alone photo editor (current release is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6). It is a possibility that I will purchase Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, as a stand-alone program, sometime in the future. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom offers ACR most similar to what is contained in Adobe CC.

I will continue to use Adobe CC for the time being. Adobe CC is updated frequently with new features. I subscribe to Adobe CC’s Photography Plan, which includes both Photoshop and Lightroom. At some point in time I expect to feel comfortable using Adobe Photoshop Elements, Olympus Viewer or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to convert RAW images. When that day comes, I will delete Adobe CC.

Monumental Publication

A new booklet, which was published by the General Joseph Warren Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) of Warren, PA, contains photographs that I took.

I thank the local DAR chapter for asking for my participation in this project of documenting monuments that the General Joseph Warren Chapter DAR of Warren, PA have established over the years.

 

Kelsi and Party

Late last month I conducted a family photo session of a young friend and her family.  At the end of that photo session Chiana’s oldest daughter expressed interest in having her photograph taken with her horse, Party.  I promised Kelsi that I would take those pictures for her, after my husband and I returned home from vacation in New Hampshire.

I conducted a photo session of Kelsi and Party early yesterday evening.

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Kelsi’s sister and brother wanted their pictures taken with Party as well.

_LG25003 4x6Kelsi, Ana and Party

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Riley and Party

This photo session was a great idea, Kelsi.  Thanks for suggesting it!

Blended Family

When family members do not share a household, it can be difficult to get everyone together for a family portrait. Wendy, who is the mother-in-law of a young friend of mine, telephoned me late last month.  Wendy asked if I was available to take photographs of Chiana and Ben’s family, as all four children were together for a few days.  I didn’t hesitate; I provided Wendy with an affirmative response.

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A moment in time.  A memory preserved.

A Touch of the Dramatic

On Sunday, June 5th, we drove through Allegany State Park near Salamanca, NY on our way home from a shopping trip to BJs Wholesale Club in Allegany, NY.  During our drive we stopped at Stone Tower and at Red House Lake.  I experimented with my camera’s Dramatic Tone Art Filter.  The resulting photographs are works of art. My camera did the hard work, i.e. processing the image which resulted from the use of the filter. All I did was compose the picture (which takes some talent I guess ;)), and crop and sharpen the picture.

I obtained the following information pertaining to the Dramatic Tone Art Filter from “Simply Robin”.

“Art Filters were first introduced in Olympus E-30, allowing users to instantly process their photographs into a selection of available creative effects, such as Pinhole and grainy film effects. While many professional photographers initially frowned upon such redundant installation of bells and whistles to a seemingly mid-level DSLR from Olympus, the Art Filters did win the hearts of many. [T]he popularity of the Art Filter has grown, and been included in all Olympus newer cameras, DSLR system, PEN series and even the compact cameras (called magic filters). It was not so much of what the effects produced since they can be easily manipulated and reproduced by many other means through post-processing software. What really worked was the user experience while shooting in Art Filters, firstly you can instantly view the effect in real time as you compose the shots in live view before even making that shutter button click, and secondly, you can obtain the results straight out of camera.”

Mr. Wong’s article was posted in January 2011. At that time a new art filter was added on the Olympus E-5. That new art filter was the Dramatic Tone Art Filter. My current camera is the Olympus OM-D E-M1, and the dramatic tone art filter is available on that camera.

Continuing with Mr. Wong’s description of the Dramatic Tone Art Filter, Mr. Wong says that the filter “is simply an in-camera pseudo-HDR processing capability, to convert the ordinary looking image into a fake rendition of a HDR shot.”

“If you have dabbled into the world of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, you would have realized that this Dramatic Tone Art Filter is no magic at all, it is simply a very quick processing to drastically lift up the details in the shadow region, while toning down significantly the brightness in the highlight region. Basically what the filter is trying to do is to balance up the dark and bright areas, but at a very extreme margin that the image will most likely turn out looking very unnatural. The lighting balance has been heavily manipulated, and the colour saturation has also been boosted, along with the overall contrast of the image. The overall outcome is a very punchy, strong, vividly surreal looking image.”

Because “Dramatic Tone is actually a pseudo HDR simulating process, it will … benefit you in areas where you require high dynamic range, or the situations when you would actually do HDR photography.” Mr. Wong finds “Dramatic Tone to be useful in the following shooting conditions:

1) Areas with high contrast of shadow and light.

2) Backlit situation. Boy, you will be surprised by what the Dramatic Tone can do in backlit situation.

3) Heavy textures. The Dramatic Tone will put more emphasis on textured subjects, such as the cloud formation in the sky, the rough surface of a brick wall, or the mixture of pimply formation and blackheads of a human face.

4) Areas with flat lighting. If you want to change the flat looking image, the Dramatic Tone can open up a new dimension, and recreate the scene as if the lighting has been changed somehow.”

Mr. Wong wrote that “Dramatic Tone is not an Art Filter to be used in ALL shooting conditions, and should be adopted wisely. The following are the conditions that the Dramatic Tone should be avoided:

1) If you want a natural looking image. If the lighting already has a lot of impact, or producing a very pleasing outcome, you might want to stay away from Dramatic Tone and just stick with the natural, good lighting conditions. Dramatic Tone can either improve your shot, or completely ruin it.

2) People photography. Somehow… Dramatic Tone can be a disaster to any form of human photography. The skin tone will become uneven with heavy traces of shadows all over the skin, and the colours come out really odd and looks like plastic.

3) High ISO shooting. As highlighted earlier, the Dramatic Tone is a processing from the original image file into a pseudo-HDR image, and through my experimentations, I found even at ISO400, the noise level can be quite unacceptably visible and annoying, with heavy smudging and smearing of fine details. I suspect an additional noise-filtering has kicked in. Shoot the Dramatic Tone only at ISO100-200 for best results, obtaining minimal noise and maximum details/sharpness.”

Mr. Wong stated in his article that he “personally would shoot … images in RAW, and apply the Dramatic Tone Art Filter later while … [at] home processing … images.” I assume Mr. Wong is referring to the use of Olympus Viewer software, which provides the capability to apply filters on RAW images.

According to Mr. Wong, “while you are engaging the Dramatic Tone:

1) The settings such as White Balance, Saturation, Contrast, Gradation and Sharpness can be fully tweaked and fine-tuned up to your hearts content, as if you are shooting a normal scene. Do take note that the White Balance setting affects the outcome of the Dramatic Tone significantly.

2) You can use B&W or Sepia with the Dramatic Tone, to create really wonderful looking images.

3) All the basic camera settings can be used … you can … use all the full PASM modes (Programme, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual) together hand in hand with Dramatic Tone. Having full control of Aperture and Shutter speed can create even more creative output, such as slow motion movement of the waterfall, or the fast moving panning shots.

4) If the original output of the Dramatic Tone comes out too harsh for your liking, you can always do a little brush up in your post-processing to tweak the image to your preference. I personally would tone down the saturation a notch or two, and reduce the heavy contrast by a little, while lifting up overall brightness.”

Here are some of the photographs that I took at Allegany State Park, while using the Dramatic Tone Art Filter.

LJG22431 4x6Stone Tower

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View towards Red House Lake
from inside Stone Tower

I climbed the stone stairway to the top of Stone Tower.

LJG22428 4x6View towards Red House Lake
from top of Stone Tower

LJG22430 4x6View in opposite direction from Red House Lake
from top of Stone Tower

LJG22436 4x6Red House Lake bridge

I have several art filters on my camera. The Dramatic Tone Art Filter is my favorite.

We departed Allegany State Park at 3:00 pm.  Little did we know that a little more than an hour, after we returned home. that our weather would take a dramatic turn!

Late Winter Sunday Drive

Bob and I went for a Sunday drive late this morning to early afternoon. We were out and about for 3-4 hours. It was a beautiful day for a drive. The sun was out; the sky was blue to partly cloudy; and the temperature felt more like Spring than Winter.

Our first stop was at the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store in Jamestown, NY. I purchased 2-32 oz. bags of Poly-Fil Poly-Pellets Stuffing Beads for use in a camera bean bag.  I paid $11.86 for these beads, after coupons deducted $9.00 from the total cost. A little later in the day I ordered from Amazon a large-sized, black Grizzly Camera Bean Bag. The cost for this bean bag was $17.95, after using a $15.00 gift card that I earned from Bing Rewards. Bing Rewards lets you earn credits for searching on Bing or trying new features from Bing or other Microsoft products and services. Bing Rewards credits can be redeemed for a variety of gift cards and other rewards.  I save my Bing Rewards credits for Amazon gift cards!  My Camera Bean Bag is scheduled for delivery on Wednesday.

Our next destination was Allegany State Park, located near Salamanca NY, where we spent most of our time. We entered the park via the Quaker Run entrance. We made a few stops along Quaker Lake to take pictures of ice fisherman and Canadian Geese.

_LG20034 4x6Ice Fisherman on Quaker Lake

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Canadian Geese at Quaker Lake
On my Facebook page I am going to ask my friends to add captions to these two photographs.

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We stopped at Science Lake and snagged a couple pictures.

_LG20040 4x6Science Lake

IMG_20160306_115454 4x6Bob took this picture of me standing on top of the Science Lake Dam.

Somewhere along the way between Science Lake and Red House Lake, we stopped to photograph a beaver lodge.

_LG20044 4x6Beaver Lodge

According to the Beaver Solutions website, there are two main types of beaver lodges — the conical lodge and the bank lodge. The most recognized type is the conical shaped dwelling surrounded by water. It is made from sticks, mud and rocks. One of the primary reasons beavers build dams is to surround their lodge with water for protection from predators. The second type of lodge is the bank lodge. It is typically excavated into the bank of a large stream, river, or lake where the water is too deep or fast moving to build the classic conical lodge.  This is a conical beaver lodge.

Our last photo-taking stop at Allegany State Park was at Red House Lake, where we photographed Canadian Geese, and a crow posed for me to take a picture.

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Canadian Geese on Red House Lake

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Canadian Geese on Red House Lake

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_LG20056 4x6A crow, looking out across Red House Lake

We departed Allegany State Park via the Red House entrance.

We returned home along the western side of the Allegheny Reservoir, making one stop at Webbs Ferry.

_LG20061 4x6We discovered a fishing pier. The pier looked like it had been there for a while.

_LG20059 4x6We have visited Webbs Ferry a few times over the years.
Neither of us remembered seeing this fishing pier.

IMG_20160306_132504 4x6Bob took this picture of me standing on the fishing pier.

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Bob walked below the fishing pier.
When the Allegheny Reservoir is full, we think that these rocks
would be covered with water.

This week’s weather looks especially nice.

7-Day_Weather

I hope to spend some time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine!

 

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