Friday, March 21, 2014

When Good Editing Goes Bad

Just for fun, I thought I'd give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the wonders of photo editing. I was inspired by the recent blog post of one of my favorite photographers who had the confidence to post one of her pictures "in the nude" so to speak.

Don't worry, she's fully clothed. Just the image is nude.

As a photographer, I find it very encouraging when I see other people's work in its natural state. For the longest time, I wondered why I could never get the results I wanted---then I started to realize how much magic happens post-production. So I love it when I get the chance to see a good "before" and "after" shot. You can see the blog here.

I've decided to do my own version, a sort of illustration of the power of editing used wisely---and not so wisely.

This is my original, untouched shot.

As you can see, it is not very flattering. Renaissance dresses as a whole were a terribly unflattering business. They seemed to have been designed solely to be a fancy, frilly frame for the bosoms.  I guess that was all that mattered back in those days.

Here I have brightened and warmed up the original.

But I still look like I'm wearing a brocade nightgown. Time to do a little weight-loss surgery!

Ok, so I look a little distorted. And yes, my head and hands look unnaturally big. But the rest of me is so skinny!

While I'm at it, why not add Rapunzel hair down to the ground?

It's been a long winter. Better try on some spray tan.

Yes, photo editing can be lots of fun. But use extreme caution. One minute you're making simple color adjustments and talking about maintaining photographic integrity and the next....

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Fever

We've been freezing all winter here by the Canadian border (Canada: where winter goes to spend the summer). And I'm sure that's no surprise to the rest of you, judging by all the news reports about freakishly low temperatures across the lower United States.

But we've finally had a reprieve. And what a reprieve!

It's been in the 40's and 50's for days and days of deliciousness now. To some of you that may seem like a cold snap, but if you've been living in the minuses, 40 feels glorious. We're talking shorts weather, Baby! (Not quite, but almost.)

It's also the perfect time for a little photography outbreak. It's so much easier to get the best performance out of your models when they're not in danger of freezing to death. Divas! However, since I was planning to be one of the models this time, I have to say that in this instance warmth was a good idea.

I've had a really cool place I wanted to shoot at for a while now. I first saw it this winter while I was driving home during a baby blizzard. An abandoned old farmstead, it was hidden and softened by the falling snowflakes, but I saw enough to know it was pretty amazing. Unlike most wooden structures up here, the owners had built their farm out of stone work. There was a house, a stable, the foundation of a large barn and what looked like a chicken coop. I made a mental note to come back some day in better weather and check it out.

Well, the site more than lived up to my expectations and Tiggy and I began making plans to meet after school for some beauty shots of both of us. Pretty ambitious plan, to try to be both the photographer and the model in the same afternoon. Usually I spend a good portion of any given photo shoot on the ground searching for the best angles---not something I was eager to do in a fancy dress! Not to mention the constraints of a dress that was NOT made for vigorous activity.

Still, I hoped with a little planning I could make it work. I brought along a quilt to lie on in case that became necessary.

And I wore puddle stomper boots on my feet. Not very delicate, but a good call....

 Especially when I looked down at one point and found myself ankle deep in an ancient, yet somehow fresh and juicy, cow pie.

Someone else I know wore only slipper boots. Someone else was sorry. Very sorry.

Yes, I had it all covered. Except for the part about full-charged batteries. THAT part I left out! And so it was that after only a few pictures of Tiggy, my first battery died.

So. Not. Fair.

I changed batteries, but I knew the second one never lasted long and I only had a few minutes before it went dead, too.

Naturally, those few minutes were spent taking pictures of me. Hey, I only get fixed up every couple of years----this was an event!

Tiggy was playing mood music on her Iphone so we could be "just like real models", but once she started holding the camera, she had nowhere to put her phone. The ground was the consistency of thick soup, so we didn't dare set it down anywhere. I ended up with it stuck inside my sleeve. Interesting trying to be a romantic renaissance maiden while your arm plays Taylor Swift....

And then---the last battery died. After the heart-rending cries of dismay were over, I decided to make the best of it and use Tiggy's Iphone to take some more pictures----might as well as long as we were there. I'd never done much with smart phone photography before, but it was kind of fun and the picture quality was decent.

Until the Iphone battery died.

After that we went back to the house and charged up her phone for a few minutes so we could take some more pictures out in the yard. Not the most romantic place in the world, but better than nothing.

All the rest of these were taken with the Iphone. But don't feel bad if you've never gotten results like this---they were all edited to death on my computer in post-production.

This gentle "stream" is actually a mud puddle in my front yard. It's amazing what a little creative cropping will do! And it came with a bonus drowned rodent floating in it. Yech!

The flowing "stream" in real life...

And with a  little photo-shop magic...

Yes, digital editing is a wonderful thing. At last, we can always look skinny, never have flaws, and remain radiant and long as we never actually leave the house so people see us in person!