Have you ever been somewhere and seen something that captured your imagination and wanted to save the memory forever, maybe framing it for you wall? Creating your own artwork?
Whether you are an aspiring pro-photographer or simply want to take better shots here is a breakdown of how I produced this photograph just for you;
I was walking in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, it's very beautiful in a crumbling sort of way and to be fair there are lots of lovely photo opportunities. I took my small but trusty Canon G15 with me. It's pocket-sized but packs a punch with lots of fancy and useful features, you can shoot in RAW, JPEG or both.
I just wanted to capture some moments while on a long weekend break and have a bit of fun, so I set the camera to P, similar to Auto but this allowed me to adjust the exposure up or down a notch (f-stop) to create a bit more atmosphere and to regain a bit of control.
The light was gently stroking the building and lighting up the moped in the distance. I like photographs with people in them, but this empty scene spoke to me, it held a story. The light, the solitary moped, the sense of anticipation stopped me in my tracks. I quickly lifted the camera, composed the scene so that the arch framed the picture and took the shot. Then we drifted on to a lovely Tapas bar.
As we wandered I quickly shot scenes I liked, often when the light was playing beautiful games across the buildings, or casting dramatic shadows. As we passed one of the tiny roads I spotted this.
Back home, and after downloading the shots, I stopped at this one and decided to convert it to black and white. Here is my process; I used photoshop, but you can use any photo-editing software, you can even approximate it in your smartphone, if it's one of the newer models.
Open in Photoshop
Desaturate by moving the saturation slider to the left
(you find this under Image>adjustments>hue/saturation)
This leaves the image looking a bit 'thin' so time to get some atmosphere back.
Lets adjust the Levels.
CTL L opens up the dialogue box, then:
Move the left hand slider along (dark tones)
Move the middle slider to the right (mid-tones)
So from this...
I'm happy with this, there is just enough light to show some detail in the blacks.
Next I want highlight the light areas. I do with with the dodge tool. See below.
I only use 5% or less in 'highlights' for a delicate touch. Right click on the image to get your brush and wipe it over the areas you want to highlight, a bit like painting.
Next, sharpen the image. I don't want to sharpen too much-this can ruin a photo.
Go to Filter>sharpen>unsharp mask and use similar settings shown below. Play around until you get something that works for you.
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I talk to photographers a lot and I have realised that days and days on shoots give pro's a real hands on advantage in tricks and tips on how to shoot better. So here are some things I have learnt:
'There is always a photo'
There is. How often have I gone on location for a shoot and someone has said,
'There's not much to see I'm afraid.'
I have just returned from The Black Isle, in the North of Scotland to visit my elderly mum.
It's November not a month I would choose to spend in Scotland and as anticipated the
weather was dreary, cold, windy and wet.
A long drive to and from the hospital where mum was being looked after was very grey and did nothing for my spirits.
I even Tweeted this photo with the caption...
One shade of grey...
After 4 days of this with my blog post deadline looming I took my own advice, and on the way to the airport I took some photos. My theme?
I didn't have my Canon 5D mark III DSLR, so I used my Smart phone (a Samsung S5) which has an impressive camera.
On the flight home, I edited my shots with the phones software and came up with this set of pictures.
This set of photos had a little adjustment to brightness and contrast and in some the colour was desaturated but that was it on the editing front.
It proved to be an enjoyable couple of hours, despite the weather.
So, set yourself a challenge and come up with a set of shots based around a theme, and make this your mantra-
Look all around.
“Nobody sees a flower-
it is so small it takes time-
we haven't time
and to see takes time,
like to have a friend takes time.”
Do you want to be a garden photographer? Or do you just want to capture the beauty of nature? If you can say yes to either, then you must master the art of taking fantastic plant portraits.
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