Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Help Wanted - Acrophobes need not apply

Traveling around Europe, this was a common sight.  In Germany, Switzerland and Italy - if there was a big bridge abutment or wall structure, someone was climbing it.

I think I found the dream job for these kids - 

Structural engineers are inspecting the Washington Monument for any damage from the earthquake in Virginia last month.  All they had to do was haul themselves out the tiny windows at the top, and dangle from the sides checking for cracks and loose mortar.  More photos on CNN.

Wanted - experienced architectural engineer. Must have love of the outdoors, bricklaying experience a plus.  Fear of heights? Not so much...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Monet Redux

I'm always taken by images of water, and in this case reflections in the water.  Out of the camera, this one didn't really do it for me.  But flip it around and clean it up, and it almost has a Monet-like impressionist flavor to it.

While I'm still feeling my way through photo editing, here's what I did to create the image.  Or...

Adjusting color, contrast, shadow and highlight detail in Photoshop Elements 9.

This is the original photo (click on it for a bigger view) - I took a shot of the trees and bushes reflected in a small pond.  The edge of the pond is at the very top of the photo, everything below is reflection in the water.

By itself, nothing special.  But the way the reflection changes with the ripples in the water caught my eye.

Open the image in Photoshop Elements.
First, I inverted the image so the trees looked right side up again, and then cropped it.

I cut off the top of the image to remove some of the drab brown leaves and branches, and cropped the bottom to leave just enough to mark the edge of the water.

In my new impressionist view, the "pond" is defined by the grasses at the water edge along the bottom, and by a line a third of the way up where the rippling changes.  Everything above that is my new landscape, everything below is reflection.

The image is pretty washed out.  I can improve the that by creating a levels adjustment layer (Layer / New Adjustment Layer / Levels).  Take a look at the histogram, it's shifted to the right - toward white.  Move the black point slider to the right (I moved it from 0 to 53) to meet the point where the histogram begins.

Much better contrast now, with some of the areas black instead of that washed out gray.

Next, I created another adjustment layer to punch up the colors - it was a shallow brown pond so didn't fully reflect the greens and reds in the leaves.

Layer / New Adjustment Layer / Hue and Saturation.

I increased the saturation at the master level, and then again with the blues to bring out the color in the sky.

The image still seemed a little flat.  Changing the levels of shadows and highlights helped:

Click on the background layer, then Enhance / Adjust Lighting / Shadows and Highlights.  Move the "Lighten Shadows" and "Darken Highlights" until the lighting looks better.

You can play with the image some more - adjusting brightness or adding a little blur to make it look more like brush strokes - but I thought it looked pretty good at this point.

What do you think?  Is there a better way, short of breaking out my oil paints and easel?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Hunt

The last thing the internet needs is more cats.  But this time I just couldn't help myself.

This is a story of resolve, of competing priorities, and finally of the age old fight for dominance... and a good steak.

Dinner time.  I had the place to myself tonight, and had just finished setting the table, grilling the steak, and putting everything out for a nice dinner.  But something in the backyard caught my eye, and I had to try a couple of quick shots with my new 300mm lens - I'm easily distracted when there's a new toy to play with.

Back inside, the hunt was on.  Our pal Huey hopped up and caught sight of dinner.  It didn't matter whose dinner, food is food.

Quietly, carefully, he stalked the plate looking for the best angle to attack...

Caught it!  Duck below the edge - you can't see me, I'm not here.   Dragging the catch closer...

A quick peek, yes I still have it.  Drag it a little closer...  almost there...

And this is where a more dedicated photographer would have let the scene play out, just to record the end to the hunt.  Would Huey win his catch?  Would he slice it up right there or drag it to the floor, and carry it away to a safe place to enjoy it in peace?  (picture those Wild Kingdom shots of the leopard dragging a wildebeest up a tree for a quiet dinner.)

Sometimes you just have to make a choice.  How far would you go for "your craft"?

Would I let him win?  No!   Hell, No!!

I bellowed, the cats scattered but the plate stayed put. Safe, sound and delicious.

Later, as I fed the cats their bowl of Friskies, Huey looked up.  He seemed a little put out.  This just isn't the same as a 2" thick New York Strip, medium rare.

Bummer, dude.  My house, my rules... my steak!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Buoy oh buoy

buoys by jim.colleran

Before summer slips away, one more look at the beach through these lobster trap buoys.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Water Dance

dancing_droplets by jim.colleran

focal length 300mm, f6.3, ss 1/500, ISO 800

Most of my water shots have a slow shutter, to get that silky swirling look (like these from Sleeping Giant Park). With a faster exposure, watch the water dance across the top of the rocks... 
Shot on the Salmon River in Colchester's Salmon River State Forest.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I have a knack for shopping - I can walk into any store, stand near the doorway, look around, and know in moments that there's nothing there for me.  And out I go.  Shopping just isn't one of my favorite things to do.

But walking down the street, a hat and sunglasses shop becomes an instant excuse for dress-up:  how many characters can you create for yourself?  With this crew, the options are endless!

Need more shopping stories?  Stop by Carmi's Written, Inc - on sale now!

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