Sunday, July 18, 2010

Alexander 6, V103.

It was a moderate weekend; annoyances and some nice time, and worked a bit on some photography (or more like photo-processing if I should say). Trying to work out and around my RAW files, new and old, and trying to study the compsition and the materials in these photos relative to what I've been reading in Alain Briot's Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style.

Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style 

It is indeed the book that I need. Maybe little about the work with the camera itself, or what I call "technicality," but it is a heavy load of art and philosophy (as I said before in previous posts). This is what I need. Knowing how to work with the camera alone does not do the job.
I was lucky a bit when I was able to get an electronic version of the famous photography magazine Popular Photography. I've started to read the many tips in there and trying to learn more about shaping the lights. Yet, I'm thinking as well how expensive things can get when you want to be a professional! Light, light, light. How to master the light composition is all what photography is about, and yet this side in me is weak.

Popular Photography

Back to my RAW files, I've been trying to manipulate them without going back to the HDR technique as much as possible. This time my target was the tranquility of Lough Corrib. So far according to what I learnt from Alain's book, this is relatively a nice shot showing reflections on the water surface, but of course, I have a problem with the light and the sky, since it was shot around midday or afternoon when the sun was still hovering over the head and not giving long shadows, or any interesting endeavor, but it might be considered interesting for its reflection maybe? or the clouds and the horizon line? Could be...

The image after RAW processing.

Here, I wanted to make the image brighter or somehow more lusterous and shiny but without these over-exposed areas being blown out more. There is a technique I learned long time ago called increasing faux dynamic range. I came cross this technique long time ago when I was trying to find something to make my images taken with my simple old Sony point-and-shoot camera look better and interesting, like an HDR image. At that time I didn't have a real tripod to go for HDR, thus I was going around that with some techniques making balance between shades and highlights in the image, one of these techniques was the "Faux" dynamic range (faux means false).
The technique is simply about adding adjustment layers in Photoshop. Two Level layers and a Contrast layer, then a layer of the original image set to Saturation blend mode. I did something similar, but without the last step. The thing I did differently here, is that I did the technique twice. I don't remember I've done this before really.

The Basic set of adjustment layers

The main trick here as follows:
  1. Preferably, duplicate your background (basic) image (by Ctrl+J).
  2. Add a Level adjustment layer (you should know how I guess!).
  3. Click the mask of the adjustment layer then go to Image > Apply Image. Check the Invert option and in the expandable menues choose the "Background" or your duplicated layer name. This is better sometimes so to ensure that the used image here is not the "merged" which sometimes can be different from the original. This procedure is essential to enlighten the shadow areas and leave the highlights alone.
  4. Now back to your Level adjustment layer, open it up (double click the circle) and hold the grey arrow (the gamma level cursor) and drag it to the left. You will see the image brighten up in some areas, so just fix it to some level that suits you and do not over do it.
  5. Duplicate the adjustment layer (select it and hit Ctrl+J). Directly, invert the mask by hitting Ctrl+I. Now open the box of the Levels (double click the circle) and drag the gamma to the right to whatever suits you. You will notice the image is getting darker in some areas. Don't over do it. Usually, I find myself satisfied when the arrow meets the left end of the histogram.
  6. Now, we add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. Here, and because I'm using Photoshop CS4, there is an option of Legacy. Turn that off and do your contrast increasing and be sure not to over do it. In CS2 and before, this option is not there, thus you will increase the contrast a bit and move to point 7.
  7. Duplicate your original again and drag it on the top of the stack of layers and sets it mode to "Saturation." Change the opacity of this layer to what suits you.
Step No.7 here is not included in my work and in fact I didn't use it for long time, because with CS4 (and CS3 I think as well), turning the Legacy option off yields a nice contrast without any need to adjust it further. Still if you feel like trying it, go ahead.
That was the basic procedure and it really takes less than 2 minutes in total to do it all (unless you have a sharp eye and keen with details with an image full of different colors!). I did this procedure twice, i.e. ending up with 2 stacks of Faux dynamic range effect.

First run of Faux dynamic range

Second run of Faux dynamic range.

The shadow on the rock and its brightness and smoothness reminds me so much of the HDR effect that I usually see on some images with not so much tone-mapping on it. In other words, more natural processed HDR. I feel the reflection is more vibrant than the other two versions already. I did add some extra adjustment layers I think to help with the blue a bit or to reduce the saturation, but basically the image came out more vibrant with the second faux process. I wonder what would have happened if I used a third!?
I was planning to submit this image to the stocks but I blew it with too much sharpening, plus there was a shake in the trees in the background (or could be my hand was not much stable), and in stock sites they always check the image at 100%. I've forgot about it. It's not that important for now. Or, could be later?

Now, back to reality. Sucks, doesn't it? Ah well, life goes on. I've been busy in the lab working on preparing some rice samples, and then I had to sit doing some calculations and measurements which were simple but nevertheless, tideous. All of that just to find some volume for the container and the samples I'm preparing. I bet anyone else would say it is some sort of nuclear calculations when they see this! But among all of this I was able to write one line in my note, preparing for some new poem, or lyrics, or whatever. It was one line only (in fact divided into 2 parts), and the chain of thoughts suddenly got disconnected and couldn't write any more than that. Might come on later, hopefully.

Been some days now and I'm strangely attracted to this song that really doesn't match my favorite list. The beat though, keeps me moving... here you go!

2449. Alexander advanced into the place and greeted
2450. then the elders greeted him with great respect
2451. they stood up before him, and approached him
2452. and shook their hands together with him
2453. then one elder said: O hero of Caqobia,
2454. we know by now, from the Good Aramramátáníth,
2455. we know your story and how you ended up here,
2456. thus we are ordered to supply you with your needs,
2457. and it is our wishes to see you among us,
2458. just like one of us, or even a king for us,
2459. but your destiny is of great importance,
2460. but before you go on your destined way,
2461. allow us to give you one thing to remember us
2462. Alexander was embarrassed for such greetings
2463. thus he looked down and his tongue did not go
2464. then another elder approached with a crown
2465. and put the lustrous crown over the hero's head
2466. then one elder said: thus, we announce you a king,
2467. our king, our protector, our ruler, our savior
2468. then Alexander tried to talk with hardship
2469. and this he said: but O good people of the farms,
2470. I am soon to be out of here for my life,
2471. I cannot be the king over you right now,
2472. because my life is not mine anymore

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