Monochrome Bones at Filoli

Camperdown Elm #2 - Filoli - 2013

Here’s an initial monochrome version of the Camperdown Elm photo from my walk at Filoli a couple of weeks ago. Handheld shot with my Nikon D600.

For this version, I used Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 do to a black and white conversion, darkening the lawn area up front and adding a bit of color to the highlights.

The “bones” of this tree are so beautiful – and the morning light that morning at Filoli was just right to light it up.

Water Jugs Revisited

Water Jugs 2 - San Francisco - 2011

Back in September, I posted a black and white image of three water jugs that I took earlier at one of the restaurants at the Ferry Building in San Francisco using my tiny Canon PowerShot S95. I loved the black and white treatment I was able to create with Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2.

This afternoon I played around a bit more with this image – basing my new treatment on that earlier post-processed black and white. I wanted to try some selective color enhancements to add some glow and depth to the image. Above is the result. Not sure why this image came to mind – but there’s something about it that I particularly enjoy and it drew me back to post-processing it again using some new techniques and new tools that I’ve been learning this fall.

This afternoon’s image certainly isn’t perfect – for example, I don’t like the subtle glow around the jugs or the bright lines on the bottle edges – but you get the idea of what’s possible from this version. In particular, the filters I used to enhance the image included Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 – especially detail enhancer to pull up the details of the condensation on the jugs – along with two Solid Color adjustment layers to add the tonality to the image and a final Selective Color adjustment layer to tweak the final colors.

For easy reference, below is the earlier black and white version. Click on either image to see the large version. Which do you prefer?

Water Jugs - San Francisco - 2011

Stars and Stripes – San Francisco – 2011

Stars and Stripes - San Francisco - 2011

I was out on San Francisco Bay yesterday for the Fleet Week Air Show with the Marin Photography Club. Here’s a shot I took in between the air show flights – this lovely old sailing vessel with a huge American flag flying off the fantail.

This image was shot with my Canon 5D Mark II using the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens. It was post-processed using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 with a bit of selective color on the American flag – and a touch of blue toning overall.

If you ever have the opportunity to get out on the Bay for the Fleet Week events, do so! It was an incredible experience for me – and not just for the airplane pictures!

The Valley in January – Yosemite – 2011

The Valley in January - Yosemite - 2011

We’ve all seen photographs of this particular vantage point – Tunnel View as you enter Yosemite Valley on Wawona Road. When the valley opens up in front of you as you emerge from the tunnel, it’s stunning. And photographers love shooting the valley view from this site.

This January we spent a few days in Yosemite – and, naturally, we stopped at Tunnel View to snap a photo or two. As I was relaxing this Labor Day, I went looking through those photos to see if one might have potential. I chose this one taken in the late afternoon – because of the expansive view – and also because of how the sun shadow swept across the valley from upper right to lower left.

In the original image (see below), the shadow area in the lower right quadrant is almost completely darkened. I wondered what I might be able to accomplish with post-processing and first did a single-image tone mapped HDR of the original RAW file taken with my Canon 5D Mark II. Photomatix Pro did an amazing job of popping the details up out of the shadow area – including beautiful Bridalveil Fall. But, the rest of the image was very busy – a cluttered mess. I wanted something that was non-traditional – a different kind of perspective from this iconic location.

First, I used Nik’s Silver Efex 2 to convert the image to black and white. I adjusted the toning a bit, added a vignette – but was still unhappy with the result. After trying a couple of other filters, I settled in on the combination of the Low Key filter in Nik’s Color Efex 3 and Topaz Simplify. The toning is the result of Low Key, the reduced complexity/busy-ness of the image is the result of simplify. I used a tweak in Viveza to drop a control point on Bridalveil and brighten that up just a touch before pulling the image back into Lightroom for final noise reduction.

The result is different from the traditional valley view photos – hope you also enjoy the difference! Click on the image to see the large version.

Yosemite from Tunnel View - January 2011