Posts tagged “sign

Thickly Settled

iPhone shot…no idea what the settings were.

In the burbs around Boston I occasionally came across a “Thickly Settled” street sign.  It struck me as rather funny and while I expected that it had something to do with it being a more crowded residential area, it really was meaningless.  After all, I could see with my own eyes that I was in a residential neighborhood.

I looked it up and found all sorts of humorous comments about this and other street signs.  “Slow Children” elicited a comment along the lines of “When I see a Slow Children sign I always wonder how all the slow children all ended up living in one neighborhood.”  The best I can gather (I did not bother to dig into the MA government sites to verify this) is that the Thickly Settled sign is an indication to observe a speed limit of 30 mph even if it is not posted.  I’m not entirely sure why they don’t just post the speed limit itself if they’re going to bother with putting up a sign at all.  Maybe I’m wrong about all this…

On a semi-random note, I’ll give a shout out to Enterprise Car Rental since you can (barely) see the hood of my rental in the picture above.  I typically rent from Hertz through my company.  I have Hertz #1 Gold which allows me to bypass the rental car checkin. Having #1 Gold means I just show up in the Hertz garage, find my name and parking spot on the display, and the car is waiting in that parking spot with the keys and paperwork in it, ready to go.  Pretty convenient.  This time my admin set me up with Enterprise which was only $17 per day for an “intermediate” car.  I arrived at the Enterprise counter in Boston sometime around midnight and after checking in asked if I had any choices regarding cars.  The agent asked what I drive at home — a 4×4 crew cab pickup truck. Upon hearing that she said that since it was midnight I could pick anything in the lot at the $17 price, but mentioned that the sweet, black 2012 Chevy Tahoe might be best suited to my tastes.  True enough…nice!  Especially nice because I had added some personal time to my trip and was paying some of the days out of my pocket.  I’ll pay $17 a day for a new Tahoe anytime.


Take Me Out To The Ballgame

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/7162405578/in/photostream

Fenway Park in HDR, 17mm, f/13, 3-exp, ISO 100

Here’s another view of Fenway Park which I processed as an HDR.  I took a bunch of pictures around the place a few weeks ago and am only now getting around to looking at most of them.  The back of the scoreboard provides a nice main subject IMO.  Ideally I would have gotten the foreground people at full height (i.e. head-to-toe) in these shots but my lens wasn’t capable of that at this tripod height (and I didn’t like the perspective with the tripod all the way down near the ground). I took lots of exposures (range of 7-9 stops…can’t remember) but only used three of them for this image.  Why only three?  Because I don’t mind a few blown-out highlights where “appropriate” and I certainly don’t mind shadows without detail.  In fact, my number one criticism of HDRs is that many people process them in a way which brings out far too much detail in the shadows and eliminates too many of the blacks.

Processing…After running the three exposures through Nik HDR Efex Pro I brought the image into Photoshop with the three original exposures.  I only ended up using two exposures: One for partially blending in the sky to help keep the colors reasonable-ish and the other one was masked in for the street and people (after an exposure tweak).  As always I used several masked curves adjustment layers (in luminosity blend mode because this image had plenty of color saturation already).  The jet contrail bugs me but I’d make a mess of it if I tried to clone it out.  Since I was standing below the sign and using a wide-angle lens the perspective (tilt on the sides) was rather extreme.  A quick free transform was used to stretch out the top corners of the image somewhat.  I didn’t attempt to eliminate all the distortion of course.  After this type of stretching with a free transform, the height of things (the people in particular) gets a bit squashed so I used a reverse crop and another free transform to stretch the image vertically and bring the people back to normal.  Maybe I’ll do a poor-man’s tutorial (the only kind I have the skills for) showing those steps in an upcoming post.


Ru Paul For President!

This sign just cracked me up.  Driving in Redmond, Washington almost two months ago I came across this doctored sign and without the iPhone camera handy I wouldn’t have been able to share it with you.  I’m not a big fan of iPhone photography necessarily.  It’s a fine camera but I’m not enamored with it to the point some seem to be and it’s frankly a pain not to have control of the various settings most of the time.  That said, in a pinch it’s very handy to have around.  The only edit was a crop done in one of my iPhone photo apps (don’t remember which).


Occupy Guadalupe Street

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6849980037/in/photostream/

Occupy Guadalupe Street 60mm, f/4.5, 1/400s, ISO 200

This evening I attended a great photowalk on the University of Texas campus.  Kudos to Lotus Carroll and Juan Gonzalez for putting it together and leading the way.  I’ve not joined in many Austin photowalks (just don’t have that much time) but I’ve always enjoyed them when I do.  I hadn’t met any of the other photowalkers who attended but everyone was quite friendly (as usual with photog groups).  If you search for ‘utphotowalk’ on google+ I’m sure you’ll see many awesome shots from the other photogs.

I got a few decent shots and the one above has already become a favorite of mine.  I’m not sure what this girl was protesting but many other little girls were holding up signs like this too 🙂  I did ask her mother if it was OK to take the shot and she readily obliged.

On a side note, did you know they take credit cards?


Oops, Missed The Shot

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6068097032/in/photostream

Let's Boogie! 55mm, f/22, 1/60s, ISO 100

Returning from a recent visit to Big Bend National Park I decided I had to have a shot of an 80 mph speed limit sign.  It’s awesome to be able to legally drive that speed on a long trip.  I pulled over — being very careful to avoid parking over long, dry grass which might ignite due to hot exhaust pipes.  An aperture of f/22 was chosen (bright daylight, wanted full DOF), I waited for traffic to clear, then took the shot.  When I was going through pictures at home my son said, “Why didn’t you take the shot while some truck was screaming by at 85 mph to include motion blur to illustrate the speed?”.  My first thought was, “Why didn’t you suggest that when we stopped along the highway…?”.

Of course, he was absolutely correct.  I missed the best shot — one that would have been very simple to get.  In fact I purposely *avoided* that shot for some silly reason.  Another example of why we should slow down and think about what we want to portray in a shot.


How Do I Process My Images? Here’s One Example…

Wall, Seaholm Power Plant, Austin, TX

This is another post in response to the questions I got on flickr regarding these images of graffiti in the Seaholm Power Plant.  What I’m about to describe is certainly not the way I process all images — especially portraiture and the like — but it is typically the way I start with images like this one.  The image I’ll use as an example here is another one I never intended to post but again, it works well as a quick example of part of my processing.  There are lots of things which make this a lousy image but hopefully you can get past those for this illustration.

Here’s the original image with no edits:

Seaholm No Edits

Seaholm No Edits

I began by adding a slight s-curve in a curves adjustment layer (result is shown after the layers/curves snapshots).  Note that I masked out the red sign so that this curve didn’t affect it.  The blend mode is “normal” which results in additional saturation in the image.  The result is shown below the curve diagram.

S-curve

S-curve

After s-curve

Next I added a curve to adjust what the red sign (and a bit of the dark corners) looked like.  This curve was in “luminosity” blend mode to avoid changing the saturation.  Note the odd curve — since I was masking out most of the image I used a curve which only effects the part of the histogram related to the sign.  That curve would really wack out the image without the masking of course.  The end result is that the lettering stands out much more than in the previous image.

Sign curve

Sign curve

Sign-adjusted with curves

My final curves adjustment layer is what really gives the image a bit of pop.  The sign is masked out and I partially masked the dark corner to reduce the effect there.  The blend mode is “hard light”.  How did I pick that?  Trial and error — tried modes and curve shapes until I got an effect that I liked.  The final image is shown at the top of the post.  It was processed only with three curves layers — no sharpening, no saturation or vibrance adjustments, no Topaz Adjust, etc.  I call this kind of processing “a la Chromasia” (go check out his work and his tutorials — great stuff).

Final layers

The "dramatic" curve

That’s a typical start for me when I process an image like this.  Curves adjustments constitute 80%+ of my processing in general.  I certainly do play with saturation, vibrance, levels, sharpening, etc. but not until I’ve gotten most of the way to the final result using curves and masks.

If you subscribe to David Nightingale’s (chromasia) tutorials you’ll be able to go through some great teaching on how to approach the creative process.  He works his way through images and describes what he sees, how/why he wants to alter parts of the frame, etc.  My simple example in this post touches on maybe the first 0.5% of that…check out the tutorials.