Masonic Lodge/School House, Bannack State Park, Montana Photography

Masonic Lodge/School House, Bannack State Park, Montana Photography (click to enlarge)

While in Montana, we met up with several old friends.  One, Dave Sorensen, is a water color artist of some renown (see Dave’s work here).  Sitting around in the evenings, we discussed his watercolors and my photography.  In his travels, Dave carries a small point and shoot camera.  When he sees a scene that he thinks has potential, he shoots a quick picture.  Later, he might use that picture as the inspiration for a watercolor.  The finished watercolor is his “interpretation” of that scene and might not be an exact rendering.

This got me to thinking about my photography.  Dave starts with a completely blank canvas and builds to his finished artwork.  In my case (and probably the case for every serious photographer) the images I capture are really just a starting canvas.  I use these as a base layer to start building my interpretation of the scene as I envisioned it.

The image above is an example of this.  The original image had no clouds in the frame.  None, zero, nada, just a very plain, washed out, blue sky.  The original was also very contrasty.  The sun was coming from the left, with the left side wall of the building almost blown out.  The top of the front face of the building was also in deep shadow under the eaves.  All in all, it was not a very inspired image when I took it.

Knowing I had a contrast problem, I took several images while varying the exposure time.  This allowed me to build an HDR image and somewhat even out the exposure across the image.  Since Bannack State Park is a ghost town, it seemed logical to convert the image to black and white.

Finally, I needed to “re-interpret” that dull sky.  During our trip I had taken several images of the sky when there were clouds.  I took these images during the morning, middle of the day, and towards evening.  This gave me a set of stock cloud images from which choose.  I selected an interesting image, lined up the clouds where I wanted them, used a layer mask, and presto, interesting sky.

Bannack State Park Masonic Lodge/School House:

N45°9’42”  W 112°59’51”


Eastern State Penitentiary

On October 3, 2013, in Pennsylvania, Photoshop Tips, by admin
Chair, Cell Block 8, Cell 21, Eastern State Penitentiary

Chair, Cell Block 8, Cell 21, Eastern State Penitentiary

Dug up another image from my last trip to Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  This is a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image composed of four images each about 1 f-stop apart.  In this case I used Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro 2 to merge the images.  I like HDR images, they look almost 3-D.  I should say I like HDR images, as long as they are not “overcooked”.

You could also use Photoshop’s Merge to HDR Pro Function (File -> Automate -> Merge to HDR Pro).  I have used both in the past, but prefer the Nik Software because it has more presets as well as better control over the merged image.  The Nik Collection is a great deal at $149.  Get the trial offer and try it for yourself.  There are also some video demonstrations on YouTube that demonstrate the versatility of the entire collection.

Location: N39 58 05.95  W075 10 21.49