August 16, 2010

A Beech is a Beech is a Beech...

I love trees!
And we have some very impressive and old ones in the vicinity - mostly oaks and beeches.
But to capture the "true" impression of the tree is a real challenge: Often they are surrounded by other trees, the sky produces a strong contra-light while the bark is dark, exposure is critical, and lastly those trees are so huge that even large-aperture lenses cannot isolate them sufficiently.
In this shot I used a wide-angle (21mm film-equivalent) to capture the treetop and combined it with a very low vantage-point. This normally leads to an exaggerate perspective but as a tree is a three-dimensional subject which is as deep as it is wide you can still get a nicely balanced impression of the trunk and the canopy. The original capture was very dark, which quite nicely reflected the overcast and drizzly weather. I tried some exposure compensation but that only led to a glaring sky and a harsh and grainy bark - which totally defeated the original gloomy impression. So I went to some extreme curves trying to balance the bark, the leaves and the sky. This in turn introduced some false yellow, red and blue colors. I desaturated the blue as it looked simply strange and kept the yellow and red leaves as it added a touch of autumn. I also created some dreamy bark textures and ghost-like lighting effects on the trunk, which I found quite fitting for such an old, old tree.

So here is the result of some over-the-top post-processing to capture the "aura" of an old beech.

Psychedelic Beech:
Psychedelic Beech

And here is the original.

After the first 100 views I had only 2 comments on the forums: one favoring the "natural" version and one relating to the difficulties of capturing trees.
So you could consider the "Psychedelic Beech" a roaring failure!
What do you think?

August 14, 2010


One of the entries to the "Blur" challenge at Nikongear caught my eye. The image is called

This image is copyright by intruder61 2010. Click through the image for a larger version.

The image captured a high dynamic range scene with colorful elements. The blurring concentrates the image on the light/contrast and the colors as it takes away the details of the scene. The persons in the foreground appear as ghosts moving along.
A very nice example of what you can achieve with blurring.

August 09, 2010

High Key Abstraction

Another fascinating image came up on Nikongear again. I got permission to show it here as a very nice example of high key abstraction. ....

Sea Urchin:
Sea Urchin Interior
This image is copyright by Andrea G. Blum 2010. Click through the image for a larger version.

Andrea commented about her photo:
"I found the empty Sea Urchin shell on the granite slabs at Schoodic Point on the Atlantic Ocean in Acadia National Park in Maine. The gulls drop clams, crabs and urchins on the rocks to crack them open for a tasty snack. (Poor Urchin !!)
The urchin shell had such intricate designs both inside & out.
I made several documentary photos with my 60mm f2.8 AF-S Micro Nikkor, but something so beautiful deserved a more artistic, impressionistic approach.
I tried some multiple exposures and various extreme exposure and colour effects. This high-key abstraction made via an overexposure of the inside of the urchin shell (followed by a white/black point reset in the editor) pleased me the most. BTW, it is not obvious, but the greenish areas are from algae in a nearby tidal pool."

Not much "trickery" in here. Just an interesting subject (and naturally: the eye to identify it!) and the idea to abstractify it through over-exposure.

Comments welcome.

August 06, 2010

Abstract Reality II

The other day I saw a very interesting image on Nikongear. I got permission to show it here as it is a very nice example of "abstract reality". It was captured as is, with none of the major techniques to abstractify a photo that I listed here.

This image is copyright by James Fitzgerald, shot in 1982 on Ektachrome. Click through the image for a larger version and other shots from James.

This is what James told me about his photo:
"Even though it's 28 years old I remember clearly making this image. I've made many of this type of abstract image over the years.
When I looked at this old painted sign on the side of a building I saw more than just an old sign.
I saw the the muted pastel colours, the lines in the concrete, I saw the "S" from Sego mostly gone, was it scratched out? leaving the word ego?
I wondered, who made this?"

What do you need to capture abstract reality?
Well, simple: Just an eye for detail and a good sense of cropping/framing, methinks!

And this image serves as a reminder what a great abstractifier rust is!

Comments are welcome.

August 01, 2010

Photomerge/RotoMerge: On the use of Tools

"RotoMerge" sounds like "Photomerge", a tool from Photoshop that lets you merge multiple images to achieve either panoramic images, HDR pictures or focus-stacks.
But I have not yet used the Photomerge-tool for any of my abstract work as I up to now have only used single exposure shots.
So far my post-processing is restricted to cropping, exposure correction, curves and color-tweaking. So the abstracticity of my images is captured in the making, at the moment of the shot. All post-processing is just like you normally would also do with a realistic photography.
It was only a few times so far when I used tools to change colors and contrast to an extend that you can speak of abstractifying. I did this with an images of clouds and flowers that I'll present in a future article.

But I still have the idea of using Photomerge to create some interesting abstract effects by stacking several photos from different perspectives together. But other than David Hockney I'm not thinking of making a big collage out of different photos but to merge them one over the other.
But so far my efforts have not resulted in anything useful :(