Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dynamic Black & White

Is one of the selections you can make in Film Mode of the set up menu. So today I thought I would share a few pictures I shot on Saturday in this mode. They were taken on a overcast day that ranged from sun breaking through and drizzle to rain. Here are some of the results.
Looking up from the base of a dead tree to the clouds in the sky a favorite nesting and storage container for the woodpeckers who reside in this neighborhood.
Looking up from the valley floor to the coastal mountains as the sun tries to break through the clouds.    
A young horse that we regularly feed organic carrots.
Rusting farm equipment behind barbed wire
 This last picture is of a garden fountain in the dead of winter.

How would I rate my black and white experience? I'm generally pleased with the results strait from the camera. I set up the camera to auto select the ISO which explains the graininess in some of the pictures. I normally try to set the ISO to 80 - 200 for my color photos and then use Silver Efex Pro to convert them to black and white. Shooting directly to black and white is a interesting experience and I recommend you try it for yourself. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lens Resume

Lens resume is one of the new functions added in the latest firmware update. I received a inquiry about this feature so I tried it today. To turn on the feature you need to access the setup menu and on the third screen you will find Lens Resume. Use the toggle switch to select the on position. The next time you turn on the camera you will see a message that tells you that the lens will return to the position it was in when you last turned off the camera.
The function works well and adds little time to the start up procedure. If you need to have your lens set at a particular zoom position this function should serve you well. I found that I rarely use the same lens position from shot to shot. Give it a try for yourself it might be something that works well for your style of shooting. Here are a few pictures from today.

 Reflections in a puddle
Interesting tree in HDR

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Totem Pole

Who would expect that during a nice daily walk through the valley one would see a real totem pole? I couldn't get to close so I thought this might be a nice way to show photo cropping. I have found that while shooting in raw which gives you a 10 megapixel picture you can get a nice crop from your photo.
I processed the photograph with Adobe Lightroom 2.6 and cropped the image with Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0.

As you can see sometimes using a crop gives you access to picture you might not have been able to get other wise. Click on the images to see then in a larger format. The little Leica performs well in this type of enviroment.

This last photo was cropped to 5 x 5 using Photoshop Elements 8.0. I really like the rain drops on the leaves of the flower.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Alpine Inn

Today I'm featuring Alpine Inn or better known to older residents as Rossotti's or Zotts. It has been a landmark in Portola Valley, California for over a 150 years. If you are interested in the history of this old building here is a link to a article written in 2004. This is not a food or history review so I'm just going to share four versions of a picture of the old building that I took on my daily walk. The weather was pleasant overcast with a light rain falling. Click on the photos to see larger versions.

This is the original image a conventional look and feel.

This is the same image given a antique look with Silver Efex Pro.

This version was done in Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 to give it a look like the photo was printed on water paper.

The last rendition is as a halftone for a unusual lighting effect.
I will be continuing to do these short posts as my daily walks with the dogs seem to always have some interesting objects, plants or wildlife to photograph.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Blooms

A  few pictures from today, here we are in the middle of winter but there are still a few new blooms to be found. The lighting is overcast with a few rain showers leaving some drops of water on some of the plants.

A Iris with a single bloom note the shadow highlights on the leaves.

Multiple blooms on this Iris with delicate white pedals highlighted with a tinge of yellow.

A vine with delicate purple buds and flowers.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Close Ups

Or should I say no need to crop in this picture I used the macro focus  and got up real close to the child. This allowed me to frame the picture as I wanted so that I could show the highlights that I wanted. Click on the picture to see a larger version and note the lovely eye lashes and the delicate skin and hair.

Next is the black and white version of the same photograph. It was converted using Silver Efex Pro. I am especially pleased with the soft silky quality of this rendition.

Here is another black and white conversion of my two grandsons hard at work at my computer desk.

The three and a half year old is already taking pictures with my old Pentax Optio 6.0 and has gotten some interesting images. If found a useful link to down load a free PDF document on taking pictures of and identifying wild flowers. Down load it here!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Different Moods

I thought I would share a picture I took recently that has been converted to black and white in Silver Efex Pro. There are four versions showing how you can chance the mood of your pictures to suit your taste.

Soft tone and low contrast help soften the look.

This one has film grain and lighting effect added from the bottom of the photo.

This is more dramatic with higher contrast and structure.

Just the lighting effect was added to the already soft photo.
Some of these effects make a subtle change to your photo white others are more dramatic. By using control points in Silver Efex you can highlight specific areas of your photograph. Changing the lighting, structure and contrast of the area you have chosen. Take a chance and experiment with your photos.
If you are interested in learning how to use Silver Efex Pro here is a lesson by Steve Huff. It will take you through the process and show you how changes occur to your photo.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I thought that I would share a coupe of landscape photos I took this week. They were processed in Adobe Lightroom 2.6 and Viveza 2.0. The first photo is of a trail taken on my daily walk. The lighting was cloudy with light rain which made for a interesting look to the picture.
The rest of the photos are of views looking back at the Santa Cruz mountains from trails that run behind the Portola Valley Ranch and Windy Hill. The conditions were similar to the trail photo.

Looking west towards Los Trancos Woods.

Looking north west towards the coastal mountains.

Windy Hill Pond.
I'm currently working on some more blended (color transitions to black and white) photos like this one of oak trees. The photo is comprised of several layers of color and black and white blended into one.

The black and white starts in the upper left corner and transitions back to full color at the bottom of the picture.  The effect is subtle and was indicative of overcast lighting conditions. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Color Fade

Happy New Year and for this first blog of 2010 I'm sharing two pictures that I took on New Years Day. I processed them in Adobe Lightroom 2.6 and used Nik filters Silver Efex Pro and Viveza 2. The pictures were then blended together in Adobe Photo Shop Elements 8.0.
The effect in the first picture was a transition from color to black and white . I like the strong blue skies as they help accent the oak tree. The yellow double line is the demarcation from color to black and white.
The picture has a strong bias towards color and the light on the roadway gives the picture added depth.
Picture number two is just the opposite with black and white transitioning into color. The effect is some what like a cold wet or snowy scene. The colors are toned down and the effect is very interesting.

The light on the roadway is contrasting with the moisture and gives it a very real life appearance. The color on the hedges on the right side of the roadway help warm up the picture and accent the curves in the road.
I hope this gives you a few ideas on what interesting things you can do with your photographs.