Thursday, November 29, 2012

Moon Madness

Yesterday's moon shots were successful, but it's amazing at what a more seasoned PhotoShop user can do to improve upon a "decent" shot.  Here is what he taught me today.

PhotoShop has some basic sharpening tools, and I used them to a small degree.  What I didn't know was that a completely different technique could also be used to achieve a sharpening effect.  The alternative approach works with a copy of the original, which then has a High Pass filter applied.  The art to this technique is knowing how much Radius to give the filter.  This one was given around three pixels.  The result is a grey wash.  But if you use a Hard Light layer option on that High Pass processed layer, the result is striking -- way better (or at least easier) than traditional sharpening.

A Mark Twain quote comes to mind:
The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
I guess the same thing can be said about the right PhotoShop technique too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Moon Shot

It was a clear, crisp evening, with a full moon and the promise of a hard frost by morning. 

My first attempt at photographing the moon was a dismal failure.  I went for aperture priority mode and ended up with overexposed shots at a variety of apertures and long exposure times.  A quick googling told me to shoot at ISO 100, f/16, 1/125 sec exposure.  Because of my camera sensor's aspect ratio of 1.6, the 200mm focal length of my telephoto lens gives me an actual focal length of 320mm.  Not quite a telescope, but as you can see, it's decent resolution.

That was my ticket to the moon.  Here are a couple of different shots with varying attempts at post-processing:

In the first shot, I used a combination of Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro (B&W conversion) at about 50% opacity to give it a touch of color.

This next shot is just straight Silver Efex Pro with a Plus 1N push:

It's your call as to which (if any) you like.  I'm leaning toward the first.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Valley Falls in the Fall

Revisiting some shots I took last October that I had previously just skimmed.  Fall colors were still a week or two from their peak.  I used Nik Software Color Efex to emulate Kodak Ultra Color 100UC film.  It added a little punch to the greens.

In the lower mid-left, you can see a lone guy with a camera standing on the rocks.  At 1/4 sec, f/22, ISO 100, the falling water is starting to show that silky appearance.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Forks of Cheat

Forks of Cheat Baptist church, near the village of Stewartstown in West Virginia. Rendered as a color pencil drawing in SnapArt.

The church was built in 1775, and it is surrounded by a cemetery. Located very near the Pennsylvania line in the area between the Cheat and Monongahela rivers known as Forks of Cheat.  According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, it is the oldest church with continuous records west of the Alleghenies in the state.

Afterword:  Here's the same shot, processed "normally."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Damn Little about Mill on Big Sandy

Saturday was a nice day, in the mid- to high-fifties.  There was some cloud cover, however, and the sunshine wasn't what I had hope it it would be.  I took a ride on I-68 east to Bruceton Mills, WV, to try out a Fader variable neutral density filter that I had gotten on Amazon.  The neutral density cuts down on the amount of light coming through the lens, allowing one to use a much slower shutter speed than one normally could.  The slow shutter is particularly nice for blurring falling water.

This was shot at 1/5 sec; f/4.0; ISO 100.  Although this is not necessarily a great picture, it bodes well for future efforts.  Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water house on a bright Spring day is definitely going on my bucket list.

From the Wikipedia entry:
Bruceton Mills is a town in Preston County, West Virginia, United States along Big Sandy Creek. The population was 74 at the 2000 census. An early settler, John M. Hoffman, named this community for his stepfather, George Bruce, who claimed direct descendance from Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.
It's kind of sad that there's not much on the Web about the history of the dam. There was obviously some milling activity there some time in the past, but little information is available.

The electronic West Virginia Encylopedia does mention that Bruceton Mill on the Big Sandy Creek was among the largest of Preston County's 50 grist mills. There were at least five mills on this site after the first one was built in 1792.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I see dead people

Revisited some pictures from Prickett's Fort that I took back on October 19.  This cemetery is a private burial ground adjacent to Prickett's Fort State Park.  It was established in 1774 and has been in continuous use. According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, Morgantown founder Col. Zackquill Morgan is also buried here.

I tried to create an Orton effect in PhotoShop, but the results are mediocre.