Another Monochrome Processing Example: In the Light in Havana

In the Light - Havana - 2013

Following on from yesterday’s “The Leader” image, here’s another example from our visit to Havana, Cuba last January. Also shot with my Nikon D600. I’ve been experimenting with some new techniques for monochrome conversion using a new action being developed by Dan Margulis as some other special tricks.

Here’s the before image:

Beauty - Havana - 2013
Beauty – Havana – 2013

Picking Five from 2013

Picking Five from 2013

[Note: First published earlier today on InMenlo.com: A few great memories from photography explorations in 2013]

Looking back over a year is something many of us do at this holiday season. I’ve enjoyed looking back at 2013, as it appears in my Lightroom catalog of images captured over the year.

I find it sort of amazing that Lightroom reports I’ve taken 7,697 images in 2013. Good grief! I recently put together a Flickr set of the top 100 images of mine from 2013 based upon views and votes as favorites. But I wanted to also do a more personal look back, choosing just five images from my photography explorations this year.

Much of my joy of photography, by the way, comes from long walks taken a few years ago with InMenlo co-founder Chris Gulker — a very talented photographer who taught me well.

So, here we go… Continue reading “Picking Five from 2013”

That Dangling Conversation #2 in Havana

Dangling Conversation #2 - Havana - 2013

After putting together and reviewing my Portfolio 2013 book, I realized that I should experiment a bit more with this particular image – shot in a produce market in Havana, Cuba this past January. Doug Kaye and I were there for a week – and on our first full day we visited this market.

This particular couple was backlit by light streaming in through windows up high on the wall behind. The contrast of the light and shadows, her cigarette smoke, and the rich textures make this one of my favorite images from the trip.

My post-processing of this image was done using Photoshop CC and some of the techniques taught by Jean-Michel Berts in his video tutorials. Using the Berts’ techniques, I adjusted the toning of the image to darken certain areas and, with subtlety, lighten others. The Berts’ techniques are an extension of the old dodge/burn techniques that have been used in the darkroom for years.

I then used some of the techniques that Aaron Nace of Phlearn.com explains in this video tutorial – in particular the two step high pass sharpening along with the subtle addition of some grain in the shadows of the image after it had been resized down to 2048 pixels on the widest dimension. As a final touch, I added a 60px wide black border all the way around the image.

You can see the color version here.

Faces of Cuba – The Book

Faces of Cuba - Personal Publishing Project

Over the summer, I worked on a personal project that involved going back through my images from our visit to Havana, Cuba in late January of this year and creating a new portfolio of portraits – cropped to square format. I worked on a few images each week – ultimately resulting in a portfolio of twenty portraits that I titled “Faces of Cuba”.

I recently assembled these images in a Blurb book – also in square format – 7×7 inches in size. I used Lightroom 5’s book publishing module to edit the book and send it to Blurb for printing. I was very pleased with the result – this “proof edition” of Faces of Cuba!

You can see the full portfolio here.

Attitude

Attitude - Havana - 2013

Earlier this week, I finished up a print version of my Faces of Cuba portfolio and sent it off to Blurb for printing. This was an end of summer personal project where I went back through my photos from our trip to Cuba in late January and tried to create twenty portraits that captured some of the moods we experienced there. These kinds of projects help keep me fresh – and, when I can’t be out shooting a lot of new things, then working on photos from my existing archive is very therapeutic!

About half way through that Faces of Cuba project, I began experimenting with a couple of the black and white film emulations in the VSCO Film presets. For most of them, I settled on the Agfa Scala 200 that in VSCO Film 04. I love the look it has – although I do back down the grain.

This is a tightly cropped (and, thus, perhaps not as sharp) image from our very first afternoon upon arrival in Havana. After briefly settling out stuff in the hotel, we headed down the Prado, the main street just next to the hotel and we quickly felt immersed in Cuba! I love his look – “attitude” I called it – and think it looks great as a monochrome with some subtle platinum toning in the shadows. He didn’t make it into the first print edition of Faces of Cuba – but perhaps he’ll be in the second edition!

The Boss – Havana – 2013

The Boss - Havana - 2013

Here’s another image from the afternoon of our first full day in Havana. The light was streaming in through high windows into the public market warehouse space. It provided some striking contrast for us.

I believe this particular vendor was cracking nuts and using that screen to separate the nutmeat from the rest. But, to me, he’s always been “The Boss”.

He’s part of my Faces of Cuba portfolio. Shot with a Nikon D600. Post-processed using Lightroom 5, VSCO File 04, and Photoshop CC.

The Market Vendor – Havana – 2013

The Market Vendor - Havana - 2013

On the afternoon of our first full day in Havana – a day that was chock full of activities – including the 6:15 AM “Dawn Patrol” – we headed to one of the public markets in Havana. It was a very interesting place to shoot – with some very cooperative subjects and some who didn’t want us to come close.

This woman caught my eye – she was selling vegetables at the market and was watching what we were doing. I tried a bit of that weird shorthand – holding up my camera and giving her a questioning look. She said it was fine to take her picture. She was a beautiful subject – and the light inside the market was perfect for this shot.

She is part of my Faces of Cuba portfolio. Shot with a Nikon D600. Post-processed using Lightroom 5, VSCO Film 04, and Photoshop CC.

The Printmaker – Havana – 2013

The Printmaker - Havana - 2013

On our second full day in Havana we visited Taller Experimental de Gráfica de La Habana and spoke with several graphic artists. This particular shot is the last in a series of the printmaker pulling this print through a very large press – and then holding it up for all of us to see.

The Printmaker is part of my Faces of Cuba portfolio. Shot with a Nikon D600. Post-processed using Lightroom 5, VSCO 04 Film, and Photoshop CC.