Monthly Archives: August 2005

A Rose Past Her Prime

It’s not only the freshest roses that are beautiful – the decay of nature also has its attractions.

After our trip, Julian seems to like going photographing with me. I asked him what he wanted to do today (Phyllis and Nicky and Mathew were off at a toddler-set birthday party). Julian said: “Go to the Rose Garden. Take your camera, of course, Daddy!”

So off we went. I’m using these Berkeley Rose Garden photos to try to really understand how to best use the Photoshop Levels and Curves dialogs.

So far so good. Next, I’ll get back to more of the pictures from Julian and my trip to Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra.

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography

Turning Digital Night to Day

Julian, my eight year old, and I went on a camping trip for most of this last week. We started in Yosemite Valley, staying in a tent at Camp Curry for several nights.

This year there are many visitors from Europe and Asia in the national parks. It’s amazing how chic these people look, even in an environment as inhospitable to chic as Camp Curry – particularly the French and Italian women.

Camp Curry is run by the park concessionaire that runs all the businesses in Yosemite Park, Delaware North Corporation. This company has nothing to do with either the State of Delaware or the direction North. It is named after a street intersection in Buffalo, New York, and manages to both be incredibly smarmy (running advertorials lauding its environmental practices in front of “campfire” presentations), to serve food that is memorably awful, have zilch in the way of customer service, and be unable to keep its restrooms from becoming filthy – hence my surprise at the aptitude European women have at staying chic.

But Julian loves the place. He gets to run around, explore, and climb all the rocks that are between the tents. He likes sleeping in the canvas tents (actually, a rather filthy cross between a tent and a cabin). Oh, to be eight again and have a brave new world to explore!

We checked in pretty late Sunday night, and spent Monday hiking (up the Yosemite Falls trail), in the swimming pool, and swimming in the Merced River (the Valley temperatures were in the 90s). In the late afternoon, we got in the car and toodled up to Glacier Point (it is about an hour drive).

First, we stopped along the way, and fixed a Mountain House dinner on my camp stove. Thus fortified, we found a spot a few feet from the three thousand foot drop-off to the valley. Julian was cool as a cucumber, but it made me a little nervous to see him sitting so calmly close to the brink.

I set my camera on the tripod, and read “Half Magic” by Edgar Eager to Julian as we waited for the sunset.

The thing that really surprised me about the photo above and the one below is that I took them after dark. These photos are probably only really possible with digital technology.

Nevada Falls from Glacier Point

By the time I took both pictures, everything was pretty completely dark. I had the Nikon D70 set on Aperture preferred metering with the lens stopped way down – f/25. Exposures were long, two seconds in one case, four in the other.

Now here’s where it gets weird. Basically, when you open the camera RAW files of these photos in Photoshop, the default settings in the CS2 conversion dialog makes them look like washed-out daylight shots. I had to fiddle with the conversion settings quite a bit to get them to look like sunset, let alone the almost-darkest-night which was the way it really looked.

We didn’t leave Glacier Point until about 10PM. Julian fell asleep during thr ride back down to the Valley. When we got back to Camp Curry, I got him up and he walked to our tent. In the morning, he didn’t remember waking up – just watching the sunset at Glacier Point.

Posted in Digital Night, High Sierra, Hiking, Kids, Landscape, Photography, Photoshop Techniques, Yosemite

Lily Inside

Lily 4, photo by Harold Davis.

I’ve just been photographing a lily inside, meaning: the inside of the lily *and* the photography is inside.

It’s interesting: sometimes a macro shot with low depth of field, like this one, is more appealing that a shot stopped all the way down (so that everything is in focus). Judge for yourself: here’s a link to some more of the pictures I took just now inside the lily on flickr!

I expect to be away in the mountains with Julian (who just turned eight), so I won’t be posting for a while. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of technique pieces I’ve written recently. Enjoy!

Posted in Flowers, Photography

From Our Garden…

Zuchini, photo by Harold Davis.

Nice on a plate, and nice to photograph, too…

Posted in Photography

Eye, Marble!

The lidless marble eye that never sleeps (but rolls slowly downhill).

Posted in Photography

The World in a Marble

Take a good steady tripod and an excellent 105mm macro lens and a marble on a mirror. That’s a good start. Adding an extension tube to get even closer is wow! Terrific!

It’s great to stop the lens down to f/40 and get everything nice and sharp. But what happens if you use the strobe and get shallow depth of field, and shallow exposure? A mystical look…

Use the Clone tool to extend the bands of blue and white around the marble, er, world. Next, use the Lasso Tool to select the center of the globe, and use the Distort > Spherize Filter to make it all rounder, and somehow more three dimensional. Modify the solar flares by using the Render > Lens Flare Filter to change the highlight in the center to a moderate lens flare. Here’s the intermediate effect:

So Flares the World

Next, save off the image, and start working on a copy to have more fun safely.

Add some black around the edges using the vignetting feature in the Distort > Lens Correction Filter.

Here’s where the metal hits the road: Use the Stylize > Glowing Edges Filter with Edge Width and Edge Brightness set quite high and Smoothness set very low to add the wonderful colorful effect in shown at the beginning of this entry. Here’s a tip: resize the image so that it all fits within the filter dialog so you can see what you are doing as you change the Glowing Edges Filter settings in real time.

For that final soupcon of manipulation, use the Adjustments > Hue/Saturation dialog, with Blue selected, to up the saturation of the blue elements of the image.

Note: I’ve omitted standard workflow steps from this process, such as adjusting levels, contrast, and color, sharpening, and cleaning up the image (most very close macros tend to have a least some nasty specks and hairs).

Posted in Bemusements, Hardware, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

More Marbles

I’m continuing to play with my marbles…perhaps to see if I’ve lost any. This experimentation also helps me to understand how my 105mm macro lens interacts with my nifty Kenko extension tubes.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography

Fresco Flower

I thought this photo looked like a painting when I took it, and I did my best to accentuate the effect in post-production processing.

First I applied Photoshop’s Fresco filter, then the Film Grain filter. After I cleaned the image up, I cloned some of the detail in the heart of the flower back in from the orignal image (proving, which I didn’t know before I tried, that you can use the Clone Tool between images, not just intra-image).

Check out some more of my recent flower pix (all post-processed in Photoshop, different manipulations and level of work involved):

Red Flowr

Dancing yellow flower


Rio Samba Rose Bud

Star of a Hollyhock

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Red Sunflower

This sunflower is growing in our side yard where we grow vegitables. This area has lots of sun, and is sheltered – so it’s great for growing tomatoes, artichokes, pumpkins, and sunflowers.

In all the yellow sunflowers, this red one is the odd sunflower out. I think he is beautiful!

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Ghoul in the Hood

I dropped my son off for his reading lesson in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Berkeley about ten minutes from us. His reading teacher has a little house in the back down a hidden path.

I went for a walk with my camera in this neighborhood, and was surprised to find this gargoyle above an entrance to a nice house nearby. It’s a bit puzzling. This was a big house, with kids judging by the basket ball hoops, very well maintained. The gargoyle seems pretty new, it’s not like it was inherited with the property.

So what is the statement here? Who are these people? I think I’d be scared to meet them…

Posted in Bemusements, Photography

My New Macro Lens

Marbles 3, photo by Harold Davis.

I’ve been having lots of fun playing with my new AF Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 macro lens.

Actually, the lens isn’t new – I got it used on eBay, but it might as well be new, since it is in perfect condition.

This is a beautiful lens. It may be the finest macro lens I have ever owned, and the statement includes my years as a photo pro back in the days of film. I’m so excited to own it!

One of the cool things about it is that it gets out of the way of itself. Meaning, the 105mm focal length has a 35mm equivalence of 157.5mm on the Nikon digital SLRs, so this is a moderate telephoto. You can be a nice distance from the subject of your macro photos.

Here are some more marbelous macro photos (yuck, yuck!) taken with this great lens:

Marbles 2

Marbles 1

Posted in Hardware, Photography