Stars above Saint Mont Michel

Stars and not least spot lights above Mont Saint Michel. These spot lights are amazing. The top of the tower is about 150m above the sea level, but these spot lights are just lighting up the sky.--Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

Stars and not least spot lights above Mont Saint Michel.

Stars and not least spot lights above Mont Saint Michel. These spotlights are amazing. The top of the bell tower of the monastery at Mont Saint Michel rises about 150m above the sea level, but these spotlights are just lighting up the sky.

This is the second image I have posted of these spotlights, and the first time I posted, someone wrote to me, that Saint Mont Michel did no look that way with the spot lights. I know I like to play with my images, but in this case I did not add the spotlights. This is the original unedited image:

Saint Mont Michel - before

Nikon 28-300, 28mm, F ISO 1250, f/5.6, 25.0 sec.

Because Mont Saint Michel has so many spotlights at night, and the night itself was pitch dark, it is impossible to capture all light in one shot. The shot above is the brightest shot, and the monastery itself is completely blown out while the stars are nice. I shot from -2 to +4, 7 shots all together.

Chateau Queyras sitting on the top of the World

Sitting on top of the world, or so it seems. Like many other castles and fortress in mountain areas, Chateau Queyras sits overlooking a pass for protection. --Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

Chateau Queras in the French Alps.

Sitting on top of the world, or so it seems. Like so many other castles and fortresses in mountain areas, Chateau Queyras sits overlooking a pass for protection. While Chateau Queyras might not be the most famous castle in the world, it certainly is picturesque. I shot this photo, as I was coming down from the mountain, after having shot this one:

Chateau Queras is placed like the old fortress it is, to guard the entrance to Queras, a beautiful area in the French. Quite a gem really, full of beautiful places and then this beautiful old castle. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

Long exposure photo of Chateau Queyras.

I shot these shots while attending a photo workshop by Duncan MacArthur. One of the advantages of going on a photo workshop is, that you get the photo locations served right in front you.

About the processing of the first photo

The top photo is a combination of an HDR photo and long exposures. Cars don’t come by very often, and I had to wait for at least 5 minutes, after having shot my HDR series. I think the light trails adds a nice touch to the photo, and it fills an empty space area in the lower left corner. If you are interested in my general HDR workflow, you can find it here.

I did a lot of cloning in this photo. As a Fine Art photographer, I see myself as an artist I am not trying to portray reality in any way. I am bridging between reality and surrealism, and I do to photos what I like, and what I find fun. And actually I sometimes find it a great sport, to see how much you can remove from a photo, and still not notice, without scrutinizing it.

In the case of the top first photo of this post, I removed a fence and a phone booth.

Chateau Queyras - clone away

In this case I found it a great sport to remove in particular the phone booth. I end up feeling like a painter.

I use a combination of the Healing Brush Tool and the Clone tool. The Clone tool makes an exact match, while the Healing Brush Tool does some magic, to match both lights and tones. And to be honest, it quite often fails in doing a good job.

Chateau Queyras - clone away - tools

In this image I used the Clone tool a lot, to get exact match texture control. This resulted in a too bright piece of wood (see #2 below). This area is more in the dark, than the areas above, I used to clone from. To fix that, I added an Exposure layer mask, set the exposure to approx -1.27 stop, inverted my mask (CTRL+I or on a Mac CMD+I). My adjustment layer is now hidden, but I can paint it in using the brug tools. And by doing this with a 30% opacity I can dark areas I want to darken.

Chateau Queyras - clone away - fix light

I ended up darkening the two areas #1 and #2 (se image above).  The first area was just ‘too bright’, as a result from the HDR tone mapping and it attracted too much attention, to my liking. But #2 was a real problem, because it was obvious it was faked.

Artistic Choices can change a Photo

On my way home from a speech on photography I gave, for a photo club, I drove by the old Carlsberg brewing facility. I knew of the existence of this Elephant Gate, but I had never seen it. I turned the car around and went up there. Despite a light drizzle, I got out and shot some shots. I made some artistic decisions in the post processing, which you can read about in the full blog post: http://goo.gl/ISsOf0--Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

The Elephant Gate (Elefantporten) in the old Carlsberg brewing facility.

On my way home from a speech on photography I gave, for a photo club, I drove by the old Carlsberg brewing facility. I knew of the existence of this Elephant Gate, but I had never seen it. I turned the car around and went up there. Despite a light drizzle, I got out and shot some shots.

About the processing

When I post-processed this HDR photo, the Elephants didn’t become as prominent as I had hoped. The lights from the gate it self has a yellowish glow to it, and the elephants, even though they were wet, also had a slight yellow glow to it.

I wasn’t quite happy with the photo, and then I did what I often do with a photo, that I feel, hasn’t met it’s potential yet. I leave it. Then I go back a week, a month or even longer, and see if my creativity sparkles. In this case I waited a fortnight, and then I got the idea of increasing the exposure and removing all color from the elephants, and the balcony above them. This way, they get a much stronger role to play in the photo, and I felt that the potential was met, and I was happy.

Elephant and Elephant before

One of the exposures completely unprocessed.

As you can see in the image above, the gate in the far end is completely white (blown out). This is because the camera can not capture all light in one exposure. There is too much difference between the light areas and the dark areas in the photo. It is quite dark from where I am shooting while the yard inside the gates in lit up. Because the camera can’t have it in one shot, I did 5 shots and merged them together into a High Dynamic Range photo (HDR), using my HDR workflow (read about it right here).

These are my 5 original unprocessed shots:

Elephant and Elephant before - bracketed

Notice how the gate is in the first image is perfectly exposed while the elephants are completely black. And in the last image, it is the elephants that are perfectly exposed. Combining them, gives an image that is perfectly exposed all over.

I as good as always use Photomatix to merge my photos into one. Photomatix does a ‘tone mapping’, which also applies some effect on the photo. And in this case, I took the output of Photomatix and used that as input, and then did a double tone mapped image. There is a button in Photomatix for this. You can read about doing double tone mapped images in this post. The trick is not to overdo anything. The double tone mapped image, will be way too wild and crazy. Do NOT use it straight out of Photomatix. Instead, blending it gently in Photoshop or Gimp, with the original exposures and the single tone mapped image, and you can get a nice effect, as I have on the bricks in this photo.

 

 

 

Cold Evening at The Bean

During the day, The Bean in Chicago is crowded with people, enjoying the wild reflections. It is insanely fascinating, such a large curved mirror, and I shot a ton of photos during both day and night of The Bean.--Jacob SurlandPhoto by: Jacob Surland. Buy limited prints on www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

The Bean in Chicago is an insanly fascinating piece of art.

During the day, The Bean in Chicago is crowded with people, enjoying the wild reflections. It is insanely fascinating, such a large curved mirror, and I shot a ton of photos during both day and night of The Bean.

About the making of this photo

This photo is made from 5 exposure bracketed shots. They are shot from -2 to +2 with 1 step between each photo.

First I processed the shots to get the color balance I wanted. One of the problems with city night shots, is that colors tend to get all orange.

The bean before

This is the 0-exposure. It’s very orange and dull in the colors and something had to be done to bring it to life.

In this case I started by fixing the colors in Lightroom. I did that by adjusting the white balance, and afterwards adjusting the Split toning panel. The temperature I adjusted to match the temperature of the light in Chicago, and this is done by moving the temperature slider to lower temperatures.

In this case things began to look normal around 2.100 decrees celsius. If you are unlucky, there is no simple selection, because many different light sources, with different kinds of light bulps are in the frame. Then I would suggest to make virtual copies in Lightroom, and match the temperature for each, and then load all needed versions into Photoshop as Layers, and then blend them together.

The bean step 1 - white balance

Bringing the temperature down normalize the colors.

The result from the changed White Balance is a bit on the cool side. While I like some of the blue colors, I have lost the warm city light, which I would like to have some of. To bring it back, I use the Split toning panel. The split toning can add some color to both high lights and shadows.

The bean step 2 - Split toning

Splitning is used to bring back some warmth into the image.

I add some orangy / brownish color to the highlights. I use my gut feeling or taste to find the right amount. But the general idea is that the highlights should be warmer with a tint of orange.

To the shadows I add some purple. Again the purple is a blue, with some warmth in it, so to speak. And this way I add some warmth both to the highlights, and the shadows. You might ask, why I don’t I just change the white balance? Because the split toning allows me to target the highlights and shadows with different colors, and the result is different and more interesting.

I then synchronized the settings to all five shots in Lightroom, before I used my regular HDR workflow.

I exported the five originals into into Photomatix and did my tone mapping, saved the output file. This I opened along with the 5 original shots, in Photoshop as Layers.

Once in Photoshop I corrected the perspective and mixed the tone mapped image and the 5 originals to my liking. When I was done, I flattened the layers and saved it as a 16-bit TIFF file and reimported that into Lightroom. In Lightroom I did some final fine tuning of the colors. The sky had gotten more purple than blue, while during the tone mapping.

Moeraki Boulders in a fake long exposure

Nature sometimes presents some odds things to human beings. Why do perfectly round boulders come out of the sea, at one particular beach in New Zealand? You can't help but stand and stare in wonder. I had something particular in mind when I got to the beach. A long exposure to enhance the peacefulness that you experience on a beach, but the light and waves wasn't right, and I did not get this the way I wanted it. But instead I made the long exposure look even longer, by using some horizontal motion blur. I then also changed the colors, until I got something I liked, and this is the result. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

The Moeraki Boulders at Moeraki Beach on the South Island of New Zealand.

Nature sometimes presents some odds things to human beings. Why do perfectly round boulders come out of the sea, at one particular beach in New Zealand? You can’t help but stand and stare in wonder. I had something particular in mind when I got to the beach. A long exposure to enhance the peacefulness that you experience on a beach, but the light and waves wasn’t right, and I did not get this the way I wanted it. But instead I made the long exposure look even longer, by using some horizontal motion blur. I then also changed the colors, until I got something I liked, and this is the result.

This is the original photo:

Moeraki boulders before

As you can see I have cropped the image some. As long as I have enough megapixels, I don’t mind cropping images, if it is an improvement. I would rather come home with a little extra scenery, and crop slightly at home than come home, and lack that last bit. Some believe in getting it right in the camera, but I don’t belong to that school. And as you can see I don’t mind faking colors and long exposure either. I see that as the freedom of the artist.

The Door to the central Fruit Market in Yeravan

The entrance to the Pak Shuka Fruit Market in Yerevan in Armenia is a piece of art in itself. It's one the most majestic entrances I have ever seen. And the fruit market is full of delicious ripe fruits. The Armenians are incredible friendly everywhere, and this fruit market was no exception. I got to taste this and that as I walked around and watched the delicacies. Across lies the Blue Mosque, not the one from Istanbul, but the one in Yerevan. The Armenians are Christians for the most part; they are the first Christian nation. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

The entrance to the Pak Shuka Fruit Market in Yerevan in Armenia is a piece of art in itself.

The entrance to the Pak Shuka Fruit Market in Yerevan in Armenia is a piece of art in itself. It’s one the most majestic entrances I have ever seen. And the fruit market is full of delicious ripe fruits. The Armenians are incredible friendly everywhere, and this fruit market was no exception. I got to taste this and that as I walked around and watched the delicacies. Across lies the Blue Mosque, not the one from Istanbul, but the one in Yerevan. The Armenians are Christians for the most part; they are in fact the first Christian nation.

About the processing

This photo is an old one, from before I began seriously on photography. I shot it with my old DSLR Canon 400D and the kit lens. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the photo in a very interesting light, but nevertheless I liked it very much, and what can you do then? One of the tricks to introduce the missing element or component is to introduce textures. Textures not only adds grittiness to the photo, but can also add colors. In this case I got a lot of copper colors, which fits perfectly with the huge copper front of the Pak Shuka. But how to add these textures?

Using textures

 

Textures are added as layers in Photoshop or GIMP. The magic trick is to change the blend mode of the texture, this way, in some mathematical way, the texture is blended with the image below. To control the amount of effect and where the effect is applied, you add a layer mask and paint in or out (depending on if you use a black or a white mask). Remember you can always invert a layer mask by pressing CTRL+I or on a Mac CMD+I.

As you can see in the example, there are many textured layers. Many textures usually add a more complex structures, as well as coloring to the image.

Not all images get better by applying textures to them, but sometimes, it can be that little magic component, that just makes the photo.

Using textures orginal

This is the original unprocessed jpeg photo.

How to perfect a reflection using the Campanile di San Marco

We had a lot of rain the first couple of days in Venice. Too hard to shoot photos in, from time to time, but in the spells without too much rain, we took out our camera's. A good thing about the rain, is that many people disappear into restaurants, shops and cafes, and you can get a photo of the Piazza San Marco without too many people. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

A small pool of water after the showers used to photography a reflection the Campanile di San Marco.

We had a lot of rain the first couple of days in Venice. Too hard to shoot photos in, from time to time, but in the spells without too much rain, we took out our camera’s. A good thing about the rain is that many people disappear into restaurants, shops and cafes, and you can get a photo of the Piazza San Marco without too many people.

The making of this photo

I literally sat down my Nikon D800 on at the edge of this pool of water and shot my HDR 5 shots. I have got an L-plate on the camera, that makes it very easy to snap on and off my ball head and change from horizontal to vertical. Another advantage is, that it gives a sort of a foot to have the camera on, and I just placed that straight on the ground.

Campanile di San Marco before

One of the five bracketed shots unedited. As you can see the surface of the water is not perfect.

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Poor conditions push creativity

In the midst of London, you can experience new and old blend together in a futuristic vision. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

London Tower Bridge and London City Hall shot on a rainy night. See the original image further down.

For some reason, I always find myself much more creative, when I come home with photos shot under difficult conditions. A particular evening like this in London had a light drizzle. Not a lot of rain, but enough to get the ground wet, and the lights reflect a bit. That can turn out pretty awesome.

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Are you an artist or photographer?

Armenia is one the Worlds small hidden gems if you ask me. The country is very small but has a grand history. Not only can they credit themselves for being the first nation in the world, to be Christian, and having invented Red Wine, but they also invented the Color television. Not bad for a small Country. This is the Monastery of Haghpat. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

The Monastery of Haghpat is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Armenia worth a visit.

Over the past six months, I have thought a lot about, what it is that I do with my photography. What is it I like to do? And what I don’t like to do? My available time for photography is limited, and I want to spend my time on the right things.

I have to admit, that I love the post-processing much more than the actual shooting of the photos. And when I shoot, I am looking forward to the post-processing. This has become more and more clear to me. A logical consequence of that is that I put time into learning new and interesting post-processing techniques, and combining them in new ways.

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How to make something out of nothing

Birds flee from the Church of Hallgrim. In Danish Hallgrim means 'half ugly', hopefully, that's not why the bird flees. The Church is named after a poet from the 17th century, and perhaps he should be happy, that he wasn't completely ugly, but only half ugly. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

 Birds flee from the Church of Hallgrim. In Danish Hallgrim means ‘half ugly’, hopefully, that’s not why the bird flees. The Church is named after a poet from the 17th century, and perhaps he should be happy, that he wasn’t completely ugly, but only half ugly.

I have a bunch of photos in my library, from great locations around the world, but because the light wasn’t right, I have to add something, to make it into something. This image is an example from Hallgrims Church in Reykjavik in Iceland. A fantastic and beautiful modern church. I shot the photo on a gray and rainy day. The sky was gray as it gets as you can see in the original unprocessed image:

Hallgrims church

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