Some time ago I took the plunge and purchased OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 6. I finally got time to try it out so I grabbed the image (original below) of some cows in pasture to try it out OnOne’s tools. It was a very small jpg (only 344k) but it was conveniently sitting around on my desktop. [Regarding the shot itself: I was traveling in east Texas recently and while heading out to work early one morning saw these cows and took the shot. I liked the peaceful, foggy scene.].
I opened up this image in Perfect Photo Suite 6 in the software’s standalone mode (previous versions required opening from Photoshop I believe). I first used the Effects panel and the Textures sub-panel to add several texture layers (there are layer and masking capabilities similar to Photoshop) , adjusting “strength”, masking out a few spots, and changing blending modes. There are additional settings as well. For instance, you can select “normal”, “subtle”, “lighter”, and “darker” options in a “Mode” drop down which change the initial effect.
I then went into the Frames panel and added the film border which included the decay effect along the edges. There are roughly 1500 individual frames to choose from and a myriad of options which can be tweaked for each. Of course you can combine effects as well…ENDLESS options.
My impression based on this 15-minute experimental session? Good stuff. There are some things which will take getting used to regarding the particulars of using the masks and such. I’m not implying anything negative though — I’m just used to Photoshop and it will take a little practice to become proficient in the subtleties of OnOne’s tools. There is clearly a lot of potential and I will definitely be digging into Perfect Photo Suite 6 more deeply.
I’m thankful for:
Jesus dying in my place…I’m glad I don’t have to pay the eternal price for the garbage I’ve done.
Family…wife of nearly 25 years, 10 wonderful children, great extended family.
Friends…*good* friends, more than we can count.
Employment…21+ years in the same company.
Shelter…middle class by American standards…nicer than most of the world lives in.
Health…my back/knee problems are piddly compared to the problems of others.
I could go on but you get the idea. My son says that he’s thankful for the five F’s: forgiveness, family, friends, food, and football.
The portrait was lit with some fill through an umbrella at camera right, triggered via Elinchrom Skyports. I wanted to place the light on-axis just above the camera but the tree situation makes it impossible. The camera-right placement gives some odd shadows but it works well enough.
This week we adopted a beautiful baby girl named Eden Joy (our tenth child, sixth adopted). She is absolutely precious (and all those other mushy words). Eden’s birth mother said after her birth, “Today I am going to give the greatest gift I could ever give”. We agree — Eden is truly a great gift from God and a great responsibility which God will help us fulfill. “Every good and perfect gift is from above…”, James 1:17.
No real “photography” stuff in this post. The pictures aren’t contrived or posed. I paid (a little) attention to composition, reflections in the nursery window, and what aperture I used but otherwise was just caught up in the excitement of the day. Post-processing was minimal with white balance being the most necessary adjustment. I did re-learn a lesson about shooting in fluorescent lighting but more on that some other time. Some random pictures below…
Finally some rain in Austin. I grabbed a bunch of shots of my son playing in the rain but I decided to post some faceless, could-be-any-young-boy pictures. I’m sure that many children in Austin took advantage of the rain to do what boys like to do – splash in the water in mud. For a time there was some nasty lightning so I had to have the kids come under the cover of the porch for a while. Fortunately the lightning cleared up and much fun was had again.
The black and white shot was processed in Lightroom — simply playing with sliders until I liked it. I brought the color shot into Photoshop and put a little more work into it. I cloned out a few things and used a series of curves and some sharpening in an attempt to enhance the falling rain and the drops rolling off the raincoat. I’d like the falling rain to stand out a bit more but simply did not want to put more work into it (things are busy around here). The clouds were thick and there was very little light so I cranked up the ISO for these shots. There isn’t that much noise in the shots but what little there was I decided to keep and didn’t use any noise reduction.
I posted this picture a long time back in a post about candid shots but I decided to re-post since it’s one of my favorites. We were visiting friends in Rockport, TX and my son spent much of his time picking up little things on the waterfront. As the sun headed toward the horizon one afternoon I spotted him intently searching the beach again and grabbed this shot.
What have I come to like about this one? For starters, parents just like pictures of their kids. Second, he has that cute little look of concentration on his face. Third, from a photographic standpoint I like that there’s just enough of his face showing to include him personally in the picture as opposed to some faceless “subject” (umm, yeah…I planned that…sure). Finally the light and surroundings are just nice IMO. As always, there are a few things I’d change if I were planning/posing this but I won’t dwell on those 🙂
I processed this picture differently this time. I first cloned out a few things (a piece of plastic on the shore, a pole in the water, and a tiny clump of grass). I then used several curves layers to selectively adjust areas of the shot and to add some vignette. These layers were in luminosity mode since I wanted to pretty much leave the colors (which were very warm due to the setting sun) intact. In Lightroom I did a few more minor tweaks with clarity and very specific exposure adjustments.
A few weeks ago our family and some friends camped at the Vineyard Campground in Grapevine, TX (while attending the Alliance Air Show). Snapped this shot of the girls watching the sunset from the dock behind our campsite.
Did some basic adjustments in Lightroom (mainly crop, contrast, clarity and some desaturation) then pulled it into Photoshop and combined it with a couple of subtle textures from Jerry Jones at Shadowhouse Creations.
I was very surprised to find that one of my (not-so-freshly-pressed) posts was featured on WordPress Freshly Pressed. I started thinking about what post I should follow up with to hopefully meet the expectations of any new followers, etc. I’m humble enough to realize that I’ve got nothing but photographs that *I* like — and hopefully others will like many of them. What’s the Ansel Adams quote? Something like “There no rules for good photographs, only good photographs”. And of course “good” is defined by personal taste. So…I’m just posting the next picture I had already planned to post in hopes that others like it too 🙂
On a recent trip to the Texas coast I was setting up for some bokeh shots with the 50mm f/1.4 and noticed this couple approaching. I quickly focused on the sand and recomposed to catch them as they passed in front of the camera. I said a quick ‘hello’ but otherwise pretended to ignore them and clicked off a couple of shots as they were in the frame.
My camera was already at what I considered a good aperture for this situation — f/2. From experience I knew that anything larger and the background would be too blurred to provide enough detail to give a sense of where the shot was taken. I had already experimented with some f/1.4 shots taken at a very close distance from the subject and the background was completely lost. For all you could tell, I was in a bright room inside my house as opposed to the beach. Sometimes that’s a nice effect but when I’m at the beach I typically want to show, or at the very least hint strongly, that I’m at the beach.
I knew my focus wouldn’t be perfect. With such a shallow depth of field it usually doesn’t work to recompose your image since you end up swinging the whole plane of focus away from the subject [see below for a short, lame-ish explanation of that]. I had no time to worry about that nor did I care for this shot since I didn’t really want to capture any detail of the couple — I was going for the overall scene of “some couple” walking on the beach. With the blown-out highlights and backlighting a precise point of focus wasn’t going to matter much anyway. I’m not wild about the composition but again, this was a hurried, serendipitous shot. The almost-opaque frame around the image was something I added while experimenting with OnOne Software’s Photoframe. I’m not sure if I like it but I’m considering this one “done”.
About those depth of field issues when recomposing a shot…When you focus your camera on a particular point, imagine a plane that is perpendicular to line between your lens and subject. Everything on that plane (including everything near the plane within the range of your chosen depth of field) will be in focus. Taking that further, if you focus on a subject 10 feet away it will obviously be in focus, but so will anything on the flat plane (NOT arc) which goes left and right from that point. [Here’s an illustration — not sure how helpful] When you focus and then rotate the camera (recompose) that whole plane moves. If you have a large depth of field (ie small aperture and/or fairly large distance to the focus point) that may not matter because the subject remains within the in-focus region even when you rotate the plane. If the depth of field is very narrow there’s a good chance that you end up moving the subject out of the in-focus region (actually you move the plane of focus away from the subject as you rotate it). I’ve seen a great illustration of this somewhere…I’m not able to find it with a couple quick internet searches though.
I shot this on a hike in Montana this summer. Initially I just thought it would make a nice shot with a blurred background — usual stuff. However, when I started shooting it I realized that no matter what I focused on within this “flower” it still appeared out of focus somewhat. There’s so much going on in there that the shallow depth of field blurs out the rest. I kind of like how it sort of has a focal point, yet sort of doesn’t.
Just for grins, another shot from the hike: