Katie's Journal

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Snap Dragons & Photoshop Effects

by @ 12:54 pm on August 20, 2005.

Yesterday (or was it the day before?) Jim chewed my butt for not posting often enough. So yesterday evening I saw one of the hummingbirds in the backyard. Of course, by the time I made the mad dash for my camera, he was gone. I waited a while, and he didn’t come back. So I gave up and wandered around the yard a bit, contemplating if there were any other pictures to take. In my wanders, I saw the humming bird back on the flowers again. I headed that way, and of course, by the time I got there, he was gone. It turned out to be just as well. I tried taking just a picture of the flowers on a high shutter speed (1/1000), and all I got was a black frame. I admit I was very shocked at first – that was the shutter speed I used at the Browns’ camp, and the pictures came out so nicely. But that was in bright sunlight. Yesterday I was out around 6, so while it was hardly dark, it wasn’t bright sun, either. Additionally, a cloud had found it’s way over the sun. So while it really did seem plenty bright to me, apparently that wasn’t enough. I played for a bit, and dropping the shutter speed to 1/400 seemed a reasonable compromise (I figured I could photoshop the remaining darkness out of the photos). And what I was going for was that effect with just the foremost object in focus, and the rest blurred. You need a high shutter speed for that. So I learned photography lesson number one. Don’t try to use really high shutter speeds unless there’s good, bright light. And photography lesson number two, which may be obvious to most, but which dawned on me in an epiphany yesterday, is that if your camera won’t focus, you’re too close – step back! I was using my big lens, and trying to get closeups of flowers. It wouldn’t focus, and wouldn’t focus, so I stepped back farther than I’d have thought I should have to, and it would focus fine with about as much zoom as I’d intended.

So, what pictures did I get? Well, I only got one worth doing anything with. The rest were either boring or blurry (I didn’t bother to tote my tripod around with me, and I probably should have). The original photo wasn’t perfect, but I thought it had potential. It’s of some of mom’s snap dragons out back. It’s a tad dark and a little blurry, but I thought I could possibly photoshop something neat with it. Since Jim has been into various photoshop effects lately, I decided to see what I could come up with. I have a Lomo script from Nitorix, so I gave that a try. It has two settings, and since I’m not overly familiar with the Lomo effect, I tried both. Once I had done the Lomo effect, the bottom of the photo still seemed a little bit blurry. I tried an unsharp mask to see what that would get me, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. So I thought, what the hell. May as well try out one of the artistic effects just for fun. I ended up doing the dry brush strokes effect, and I really liked how it came out. The difference is very subtle, but it’s there. And to me, it’s not an obvious artistic effect – it still to me looks like a photo. I still have one more pearl of wisdom to share about photoshop effect, but I’ll go ahead and post the photos first.

Original Lomo 1 Lomo 1 / Dry Brush
Snaps_original Snaps_lomo1 Snaps_lomo1_drybrush

Original Lomo 2 Lomo 2 / Dry Brush
Snaps_original Snaps_lomo2 Snaps_lomo2_drybrush

At first, I didn’t really like the first Lomo effect. But the more I stared at it, the more it grew on me, until now, I absolutely love the final photo in that series. I think it would be an excellent one to get printed. I very much like the second Lomo effect as well – it stayed much more true to the original colors. But what jumps out at me in that first effect is how well the orange tints stand out against the dark background.

Finally, I promised one more pearl of wisdom. This again may be obvious to most, but it surprised me. Originally, I only tried the dry bush effect on the second Lomo effect, since I initially liked it better. Once I posted them here and saw them side by side, I wanted to try the dry brush effect on the first Lomo effect. Just as a quick trial, I originally did it on my resized picture. Using the same settings as with the other picture, I was amazed at the difference. The brush stokes were obvious, and it looked clearly like a photoshop artistic effect had been applied. I thought, Holy-rusty-metal-island Batman! What went wrong? I pondered this for a bit, and thought the only thing I’d done differently was use my original picture in the first case. So I went back, and tried again using the full size image. This time the effect was what I wanted – subtle, but there. The explanation that makes the most sense to me is that in the original picture, the effect had many more pixels to work with, so the effect was much finer. With fewer pixels, it was more obvious. So that’s something to keep in mind as you play with effects: the number of pixels can dramatically effect how the picture comes out.

3 Responses to “Snap Dragons & Photoshop Effects”

  1. Jim Cook Says:

    I think chewed is not the correct term. As I recall it was more of a gentle reminder and the dissappointment that I have when I come here and don’t see anything new. Thanks for feeding my thirst for knowledge! I will go back to reading now.

  2. Administrator Says:

    lol, it’s my blog – I’m allowed to embellish if I want. 😛

  3. Jim Cook Says:

    Ok I am done reading this and I agree, Lomo 1 / Dry Brush is my favorite too. I love the colors in it. It is amazing what wonderful pictures you can get from your back yard!

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