A friend asked me to help her with a photo of her father and his mother that was cherished but in very poor condition. The photo had been printed long ago from a transparency and had faded in its frame to the point where the faces had become dark shadows and bright blobs. In addition, the top of her father’s uniform hat had been cut off and she asked if it could be put back on. After a little Google research on Marine uniforms, I was able to affect a reasonable improvement of the photo but… I’d wondered if they could find the original negative or slide. I was sure I would get more “information” in a good scan of whatever original they could find. Here’s the photo from the frame and the temporary fix… still very poor.
Huzzah! My friend’s father came up with an original slide transparency of the photo. I was hoping that the original had the rest of the hat… that whoever printed it had just cropped it badly… but… NO, it was taken that way in the camera. The good news was it was not scratched nor overexposed, so… there was lots of information in the image and little spotting to do.
This time the detail had to be there when I repainted the top of the uniform hat. A few color blobs wouldn’t do the job. With a bit of Adobe Lightroom adjustments and Photoshop the faces came out of the shadows which is the whole point of an image like this… a cherished memento from a happy time with a loved one from a long time ago. The details are what makes the experience of being transported back to that moment.
Did I get it right? I don’t know yet. My friend is happy with the results but I want to hear from her father. Is the day right? The light? Can he feel the pressure of his mother’s white gloved hand on his arm? Does he remember pinning on her corsage… or watching her face as she pinned it? Does he remember feeling the pride that is so obvious in the expression on her face?
I hope the new print will bring back wonderful memories for a very long time.
A winter storm in New England… a Nor’easter as well, with its spiraling bands of snow overhead and gale winds whipping the tides… sigh. An all too familiar set of circumstances here. We deal… that’s what we do. It’s inconvenient at best, a true pain if the power is out for any substantial length of time… but for once, in the case of Nemo, we all seemed more than ready for the work it takes to move it all out of the way so life could go one… just go on for goodness sake. We endure…
it’s what we do. Afterwards… it’s a different world for those of us who like to look really, really close.
The garden doesn’t see to mind the new white blanket.
And familiar things in the world look different… look like other things even… a man sitting watching birds, or a graphic ocean wave from a Japanese woodblock print.
It’s been much longer than I intended to be away from this blog… but, intensions are are strange things. They are like promises nagging to be kept and I’ve decided to keep this promise to myself and resume this blog tonight with a simple evening tale.
There’s an old metal bridge across the Merrimack River in Massachusetts… downriver from the towns of Haverhill and Lawrence and Lowell and a dozen other old mill towns whose power source was the river itself. The old Bates Bridge is being replaced by a new concrete structure and an arched design of the kind that says ‘modern’ and ‘up-to-date’ in the same way that the old flat metal design says ‘out-dated’… it’s faded green paint and growing rust a temptation for macro-grunge lovers like me. I was hoping to get to the bridge sooner but it was after 4 in the afternoon and the dark shadows of a winter’s afternoon are not the best time for that kind of photography.
So, as I drove away along the south side of the river, I noticed that the river was clogged with ice from the recent cold temperatures and covered with the heavy snowfall of the weekend ‘Nemo’ storm. I stopped to capture an image or two of the ice and the construction site under the two side by side bridges. I began to wonder if the amount of ice and the forces it could bear on the barges holding 3 enormous cranes for the construction companies could be a potential problem… when a strange craft came from under the bridges and proceded to push the ice around. As it did, the floes drifted away from the big ice pack and floated harmlessly down the river past the barges. An Ice-breaker! Round and round it went clearing the ice from the river while comuters traveled across the old Bates Bridge north and south… home from work to Haverhill or Groveland on either side… oblivious to the work going on below on the river.
It was so quiet from where I stood. Only the sound of the boat to break the stillness of a quiet New England scene. In the opposite direction… a promise of a sunset to come… but, I couldn’t wait. Another time, another sunset on the Merrimack.
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We walked on Main Street in Georgetown, Massachusetts… Jack and me, crunching our way through the piles of color and texture, our heads down against a steady breeze. Not because of some extreme temperature that need be endured… but to shield our eyes from the low and exceptionally bright Fall sun. We walked away from the center of town along the busy street, trucks rumpling by every few seconds… until the sidewalk ended, then turned and walk toward town on the other side of the street. We’re making good time when… a car stops and two young girls, visitors from Germany inquire about where they can find a MacDonald’s or a Starbucks. They aren’t looking for a fast food meal or overpriced coffee… but a WiFi zone so they can communicate with their families and friends… relate the details of their trip… reassure their parents that they haven’t kidnapped here in Massachusetts. So on we go. Main Street, we discover is all about texture and color today! I’m trying to take pictures of what I’ve found and Jack is all about getting back to the pet store we discovered on our way. There’s a treat waiting for him, he’s pretty sure.
Here’s what we found on a little portion of Main Street…
I noticed something odd while I was editing a few recent images that I found interesting and thought I’d share… We’ve had some spectacular “cloudshows” lately and I stopped to capture one in the parking lot of my local grocery store. I liked the angle of the cloud formation and the overhead, umbrella of the massive formation on the left. While looking at it on the screen, I made a duplicate copy to try a different crop so I could look at them side by side. The two images aren’t that different but… it occurred to me that I was looking at images with two different subjects!
In the cropped version above, the eye is moving down the dark column on the left and finally rests on the bright sun in the sunset at the bottom. To me, the subject of this image is the sunset, the color and drama in the distance.
In the original, it’s just the opposite… the eye is drawn down the thin clouds from the right and back up to the bright spot at the top. The eye is being lead in a completely different direction. (See the black and white images with the arrows.) The subject of this version of the image is the overwhelming scale of the scene, the height of the column of clouds, aided by the bright edge at the top and the tiny light poles at the bottom. A completely different feel. The actual sunset is secondary.
I’ve never seen as dramatic an example of the effects of knowing where the eye is being led and how much a simple edit can change the subject of an image. It’s important to know where the viewer’s eye is going in the composition of an image. You want the viewer to see what you see… to experience the impact of the scene as you did… or at least as close as you can assist them to see and feel.
Which image conveys what I wanted you to see? I’d have to pick the original. While I cropped the duplicate to make it a stronger composition, I lost the subject I wanted to present… the scale and feeling of being a tiny being on a beautiful planet… a very special place, even in the grocery store parking lot! :)
Agree? or Disagree? Your thoughts?
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On fine Autumn days like this we like to walk. Jack is the perfect excuse to walk and does so nicely for a 10 month old puppy, greeting people on the street without jumping and patient about being fussed over. Jack has one agenda during our walks and I have another. His is to smell anything and everything… and mine is to find something to capture in my camera. I don’t look for anything specific… just record what I find. Here’s what we found on our walk up North Street in Georgetown, Massachusetts: a spooky house, a ghost in a tree, several trees with faces, fall leaves, a dog in a birch tree, a flag in the breeze… among other things…
The Rusty’s Truck Series
My friend Rusty comes over and hunts out in the woods… during bow season in the fall. When he’s not doing that… or hanging out at the local village store/coffee shop/post office in our little town with the other “guys in pick-up trucks”… he’s up on somebody’s roof. Rusty is an excellent roofer and his truck can be seen in all the best driveways around town.
A few weeks ago, his truck was parked in our driveway… along with a few others as we got some house and yard projects taken care of. Rusty was here putting up staging on the roof for our local house painter. His truck and all his ‘roofin’ stuff was parked under my studio window. I stood staring down at years and years worth of worn wood and metal and paint and welding and rust, and grunge and… well, I just had to record some of all that amazing beauty that was right under my nose… literally!!
After some friendly teasing about about my taking pictures of his creative welding techniques and a few examples of what I was capturing from the back of the camera preview screen… he was pointing out areas that might be good subjects for a shot. Soon, both he and the house painter were directing my efforts, offering drop cloths and paint buckets as possible subjects.
So… even my friend Rusty is an artist and he doesn’t know it! I hope he enjoys the gallery of images from the “Rusty’s Truck” series.
Blueberries for breakfast! What a great idea… yes, let’s plant some bushes just on the edge of the front yard… and we’ll have blueberries for our pancakes or waffles. Yes!! That was the conversation about 20 years ago when the front lawn went in and blueberry picking… and eating… was an anticipated pleasure. It didn’t exactly work out the way we thought.
As the bushes grew and the fruit production increased, so did the chipmunks and birds who enjoyed the harvest of the sweet little fruits!! I even tried bird netting… which the chipmunks could get under… and several times a day during the picking season had to rescue birds caught in the net. So, we rarely got more than 3 or 4 ripe berries at a time. But, early this morning out in the yard throwing the Frisbee with Jack, I realized that there was actually enough ripe fruit hanging for breakfast! I just had to see it as a competitive sport… and beat them to ’em!
Of course, I had to photograph my triumph over the critters and carried them back to the studio before I put them on my cereal. I love the variety of colors and the softness of the tones… and while I was processing the image, it occurred to me to that the blueberries were a perfect example to show the effects of “noise” that occurs when using a sharpening tool in any of the processing programs… and also the way that the Adobe Lightroom “Luminance” tool can correct the “noise”. Noise is the grainy appearance the image has when it’s been sharpened. It actually looks like clumps of color have separated out from the smooth blend of tones you expect to see. The first image here has been over-sharpened to show a lot of noise. The second has the Lightroom Luminance applied at 100 on the scale. When overdone like this, the image starts to look like a painting with all the blending going on. With the right subject it’s kind of cool! Now… breakfast!
The dates of the 5th Annual Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk 2012 (that is a mouthful!!) have not been announced but I’m waiting to hear!! I missed last year’s walk which took place in October. Winners images are posted on the Worldwide Photowalk site from last October. On two days last fall there were 27,924 people of all skill levels… with all kinds of cameras… walking in 1118 different groups and capturing the world they found where ever they were. It’s a GREAT experience to meet other people interested in Photography and walk a common route that is planned by a group leader and then see that experience through everyone’s eyes. It’s amazing how different the captures are. Leaders select a representative image from what the group captures and submits it to the Photo Walk headquarters where winners are selected for prizes. Of course, the real prize is going on the walk to begin with.
On one of the WWPW I’ve participated in, the walk was through an old mill town along the Merrimack River in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts. The site of the mills and factories along the rivers and canals that supplied the power almost 2 centuries ago was a mixture of sad at the results of the ravages of time… and delight at the rediscovery of the marvelously large spaces that are being renovated and turned into living and working spaces in the heart of the cities. These images are from that walk among the red brick buildings where you could imagine the giant machines turning out shoes by the millions and fabrics to support the garment industry for a westward expanding nation… and thousands of young women coming from the farms of the northeast to take jobs in the hundreds of factories along the Merrimack.