My Secret Garden – Part II

Blog, Photography

It’s here… Summer!  Although it’s felt like it for a little while now, today it’s official.   I know it is a Monday, but I hope you get a chance to enjoy today, the longest day of the year…

As promised, here is the second part to my not so secret Garden.  It is in full swing and I can’t wait to get out there again as a whole new batch of flowers are just getting ready to bloom, but until then, I’m still enjoying all the first bloomers like this one….

Bursting

This is a clematis. Almost done on the vine, but still had a lot of life left in it. With the help of my light pad, Topaz Glow & Adjust. I came up with this… mother nature’s firework.

Many of our perennials, which is the majority of our gardens, survived the late spring cold snap we had… with the exception of the hydrangeas, one of my garden favorites, adding it’s beautiful blues to the garden.  So yellow lilies it is… until the purple cone flowers get going.

sunny-fly

tiny-dancers

No effects here… Practicing back button focusing has become a real plus. This basket was actually swinging in the breeze a bit and I was able to take the shot when it swung back into focus. They (you know who you are)  are right, once you get use to BBF, you won’t want to go back …

 

 

 

The itsy-bitsy fly is not the only tiny thing in the garden.  The little red and white flowers in this hanging basket are only about the size of a dime.

rosie-orchid

Even indoors things are blooming! Beautifully back lit by the morning sun.

And now the real show offs of the garden… The roses.

Cherry-Parfait

Cherry Parfait… and living up to its name! A painterly effect added at less than 50% ever so slightly accentuates the gracefulness of this rose without overshadowing its natural beauty.

Vanilla-Swirl

It’s official name is Moondance, but I’m calling this Vanilla Swirl. It goes so well the the Cherry Parfait.  A 95/5 with the help of Topaz Clarity.

moondance-visitors

…and I’m apparently not the only one enjoying hanging out in the the garden.  I hope you enjoyed the tour of our flower garden…

Until Next time,
Maria

My Secret Garden – Part I

Blog, Photography

Nope you haven’t missed any posts, I’ve just been too busy growing my photo library… a lot!  Since this is a photo blog and it is a beautiful time of year… I guess it is not that surprising that I’ve been spending a lot more time behind the camera lately.

EandM-II

Our lovely guide (aka sister-in-law) Eva and my daughter. I read somewhere recently that a blurry object in the foreground is a no-no. I actually like the slightly blurred column here… I also like to veer off the beaten path from time to time.

Back to my garden(s)…  Actually, it’s not really much of a secret as they are readily available for all to see.  One sits in front of my house, and the other is a beautiful setting and formal gardens of Longwood.     Part I:  My visit to Longwood with my daughter and sister-in-law.  I traveled light (i.e. minimal camera equipment) because sometimes it is just really nice to be present with those you are with.

And what's an outing without a self?

And what’s an outing without a selfie?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that’s not to say, I didn’t keep an eye out for a photo-op when it presented itself…

grape-lime-ricky-copy

Ok, let me just say I am pretty gosh-darn proud of this image.  First, I resisted adding any effects… although tempted… a lot.   This is straight out of the camera, taken in a wide open field, hand-held-no tripod.  Okay, so maybe it’s 95%… the other 5% is the post I did in Topaz Clarity to bring back some of the vibrance lost from it being such a bright yet humid & hazy day, but that’s it.  The flower, the backdrop, and those colors are 100% courtesy of mother nature.

 

Longwood-Terracotta-copy

Now this one, I could not resist. Before I even took the picture, I thought it looked like a painting.

Wavy-White

A solitary peony with some painterly touches

 

I like to think of the sky has a natural light pad. Exposing for the flower, I naturally blew out the sky and created this lovely white backdrop.

A natural light pad! Exposing for the electric  orange of this flower (no idea what kind it is), I naturally blew out the sky and created a lovely white backdrop.

white-on-black

Moving indoors, a Longwood visit isn’t complete without perusing through the orchid house.  Opposite of the orange flower, exposing for the lovely white cluster of orchid blooms (again, I can never remember the names) provided a dramatic almost black background.  

X marks the spot

Don’t forget to look up!  A slight variation on the black & white (or is it white and black) theme. This is the top of the lovely gazebo you saw part of earlier.  Again, exposing for the black ironwork created this natural black and white image.

Yellow-Water-Lily

I’ve been to Longwood a few times over the years, but this is the first visit where the lily pond actually had lilies! No painterly effects; surprised… me too.  Another 95/5.  I am definitely heading back next month with my long lens when the pond is in full bloom!

And that was just a handful of some of the beautiful blooms  at Longwood.  I can’t wait to go back.  Until then, I’ll be spending a little more time on my photos from my own garden… the roses are putting on such a show and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Until next time,
Maria 

Pixel Pushing

Blog, Photography

Ten years ago, the family and I took a whirlwind trip out west.   I took lots of photos but never really did anything with them. . .   Of course, they are priceless in terms of documenting our trip and showing that were actually there; but as for photographs, they are just . . . okay.  I decided to a pull a few from the archives to see if today’s software could make them more than just marginal.

The camera for this trip was a Kodak DC 4800 with it’s whopping 3.1 megapixels, and I’m pretty sure I shot on Auto. . . back then I just didn’t know any better.

Image 1:  Somewhere near Sedona, Az.

The Before:
GC - Sedona 054 GC - Sedona 054-2-Edit-Edit
The After:  You can really see a difference when you click on the images and make them larger.  Just don’t make it too big; I guess there is only so much today’s programs can do.  But who knows, in another 10 years . . .  I will hopefully get the opportunity to try again with the knowledge and camera equipment I have today and no pixel pushing required 🙂

The Process:  I started in Lightroom.  I always like to start there, starting with the basics: Some sharpening, noise reduction (was a must!), pretty simple.  Then off to Photoshop.  Here I use my plug-ins (yes, I know I can use them in LR; it’s just a preference of mine to work with them in PS).  First up, Topaz Clarity.  I am loving this one.  Since I don’t really speak the techie-language, I’m not even going to try, I just know I can get the result I want by starting with a preset and then tweaking the sliders.  I’m off to a good start, but there is still all that noise and then some.  I had Topaz’s Denoise, not sure where it went.  So I went to Nik Define2.  I like that I can apply it just to the area I want (the sky) by using a brush and bonus the Nik software in PS creates a layer to work from, so I make adjustments later if I need to.  Still, not quite there yet, I wanted some more detail but wanted to keep all that noise I worked so hard at getting rid of at bay.  After clicking around Topaz Adjust and Nik Color Efex and not really finding what I was looking for, I opted for Nik Sharperner.  I have two options here RAW presharpener and Output sharpener.  Now, I know I should probably look up what each one really does and why, and maybe someday I will, but let’s face it, I’m a clicker. If I click on something and it gives me what I want, that’s good enough for me.  I went with the RAW, which makes absolutely no sense given I was working with a low quality, low resolution, JPEG, but it did what I was looking for, what more can I ask.

In the end, other than the pushing of all those pixels resulting in a hot pixel showing up here and there (cloned out) and the fact that printing this large will never be an option, at least not a good one, I think this was an exercise well worth the effort.  Are they now perfect? Not by a long shot.  Are there other ways to achieve these results, if not even better one’s?  You bet there are.  But for now,  I relived some memories, taught myself a thing or two, and I learned a bit more about what the software I have can do, and that is pretty darn satisfying.

Here’s another one resurrected from the trip.  This is Coral Sand Dunes National Park in Utah, near Zion.   I kept pretty much to the same processing. . . Zion 027 Zion 027-2-Edit-Edit

’til next time,
Maria