Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Channeling My Inner Maxfield Parrish

Wood Nymph  ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

Once again, a blending of the old and new.  The leaf strewn path and very photogenic tree were shot just 48 hours ago, (see below),  while the "nymph" was a product of many days of glamour shots in the mid 1970's.

Photo Bro Dale was ahead of me on the Arroyo Trail at Dripping Springs Natural Area, when he yelled, "Wow, here's a great black and white opportunity! Wait till you get down here and see!" I got down there, and I saw, and I shot: 
Unedited RAF Raw ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

Yesterday, when I sat down at the computer to edit this image, I did indeed take a look at a black and white conversion, and it just didn't do anything for me. So I cropped it, first, to a 4x5 format and began doing simple editing tasks: sharpening, highlight and shadow, structure, etc. I still wasn't excited about it.  My eye kept getting drawn to that light area just visible at the end of the trail where it exited the trees. That held a promise of maybe bringing this photo to life. 

And that's when I entered the rabbit hole.

The editing of the final image took exponentially longer than probably 90% of my edits, because I decided on the spur of the moment to go the "fantasy" route. So much trial and error, with all the tools at my disposal in Luminar Neo. I probably tried them all, along with various textures and crops (at some point it occurred to me the tree trunk leaning off to the left was a distraction, and went with a square crop... better for Instagram anyway) and overlays to make it a cohesive whole. About 2 hours later I decided it was a completed work. I hope it was worth it.

Of course, if I'd tried this on another editing program from, you know, the "big guys", it not only would have taken longer... much longer, I would probably also have a broken window in the office where the computer was defenestrated, and the hair I've been growing out since last spring would have been pulled out and laying on the floor by my chair.

So, If you're frustrated with the needless complexity of your current editor, and want something much simpler and intuitive, you've still got a few days (5) to save some money on Luminar Neo Subscription or Lifetime License. The Secret Sale ends next Monday morning at 8AM ET.  And as always, if 20% off isn't enough for you, use "DanGauss" at check out for an additional $10 off, and "PHOTODAN" for yet another 10%. Is that nuts, or what? Click the link above, or the ad in the sidebar, or below.

And if you're wondering if there was an area along this trail that gave me a satisfying black and white image, well, wonder no more...

Trees in Bondage ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

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Friday, January 20, 2023

It's A Secret!

Two Winter Scenes (Composite) ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

 The above image never happened. Or, I should say, it did happen but the two parts of it happened almost 45 years apart.  A little history...

Back in the early 1970s, when I was a struggling college student at Thomas Jefferson College, I would supplement my income by driving home to Ann Arbor from Allendale (the campus is situated between Grand Rapids and Lake Michigan... think "lake effect snow"), where I would tend bar at the gone-but-not-forgotten Stadium Tavern on Friday and Saturday nights, and occasionally on Sundays.  

The clientele of the tavern, a mixture of "working men", management types, and a healthy sampling of post-game softball players all knew I dabbled in photography. One customer, the young lady you see above (whose name completely escapes me), had eyes on my boss, the younger of the Clarke brothers, but he didn't seem to be getting the message. She inquired if I could be hired to shoot a series of "glamour" or "boudoir" photos which she would then give to the boss in the hopes he would be inspired (aroused?) to hook up, preferably I think, in a permanent relationship.  I have no idea if it ever happened. I graduated college and moved on.  But I still have all the negatives.

So, the "female element" in the photo above is from the few days spent shooting near the Huron River, and in her basement rec room.  This is a scan of the original negative..

The image itself is okay, but the negative is pretty scratched up, and dusty. I tried editing it on its own but wasn't satisfied with the result. I had another idea, thanks to Luminar Neo, and the new background removal tool! You wouldn't believe how easy it was. With one click, the background was completely removed, leaving only bits here and there in the foreground to clean up. Took about 10 minutes altogether. I saved the resulting image as a transparent .png file.

With her right boot buried in snow, I knew I had to find another snow scene to place her in.

The snow covered background was shot about 5 years ago after a particularly heavy snowfall in our New Mexico high desert. I had a dozen or so images to choose from, many of them already shot in black and white. This image seemed the most complimentary. 

Opening the image in Luminar Neo, it was a simple matter of  applying edits to make it appear like a film image, and adjust some of the background to better match the layer I was going to add.  With that, I brought in the girl, situated her appropriately (in retrospect, I think she might be just a smidge large in the frame, but maybe only noticeable by me), and made a few final adjustments to unify the two elements, decided to throw in a frame, and called it a night.

And that's the "secret" of "Two Winter Scenes". But it's not the secret referred to in this post's title. Nope. There's another secret. A Luminar Neo  Secret Sale!.   From now until 8AM ET, January 30, you can get Luminar Neo Pro Subscription or Lifetime license for 20% off! You won't find this sale on the Skylum website. Only here. And that's not the only savings. As ridiculous as it may sound, you can also save another 10% AND $10 at checkout when you use the discount codes "DanGauss" and   "PHOTODAN".   To access the special pricing, click on the "Secret Sale" link above, or click the ad at the top of the sidebar.

What are you waiting for? The clock's ticking!

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Happy (Belated) New Year!

Immature Bald Eagle  ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site 

This young bird may be experiencing its first new year.  Shot this at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge on Christmas Day, a trip we've been making nearly every Christmas for the last 6 or 7 years. "The Bosque" is one of America's great wildlife refuges, and should not be missed.

You would think, looking at this image, that I was either very close, or I have one of those massive multi-thousand dollar telephoto lenses. Neither is the case. My lens of choice (currently) for wildlife images such as this is the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f2.8 R LM OIS WR (a mouthful, right), coupled with the Fujifilm 2x teleconverter. The 35mm equivalent of this setup would be 150-450mm. Decently long, but not enough to get in close to this eagle. Here's the original, uncropped and unedited image (about 50-60 yards away):

©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

So... how did I get a nice close (and sharp) image? Well, if you've been coming around here long enough you won't be surprised when I tell you it was in the "digital darkroom" with  Luminar Neo!, and its group of Extensions. (Especially SupersharpAI and UpscaleAI). If you own, or have a subscription to Luminar Neo and you want to try out any of the extensions for free, just click on any of those last 3 affiliate links. To purchase Luminar Neo, click on the first link. And don't forget: if you decide to purchase anything at the Luminar site, use the code: PHOTODAN  for 10% off of your purchase!

I'll be back soon, with more cool content about photography, photo editing, activewear clothing, your feet, and some exciting new medical news. Hang in there.