Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Surprised by Joy

I was experimenting with the custom white balance using the Expodisc on my Canon 60D the other day and I forgot to reset it back to Auto.  The next day when I used the 60D on this photo I was pleasantly surprised to see the unusual colors.  So I kept the color the way it is.  I just love it whenever I'll get these joyful "accidents".

#flower, #WhiteBalance

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thoughts on Babes, Cake and Candies (Repost)

Black and white photos tend look timeless in my opinion. As someone commented this is a Kodak moment. Though maybe Fujifilm -- the camera I used to shoot this -- will probably resent the reference to Kodak.

The picture of the two girls could have been taken in the 1950s. Yet they have just been captured last summer. That's 2012 for those of you reading in the future.

I like how their dresses appear 50'ish. Even their hairstyles look retrospective to me. Somebody told me it's called the Betsy Johnson look. Now I know what to tell my hair stylist next time I go for a hair cut.

And the M&Ms. Did you know they were created in the 40s so that the chocolate won't melt? 

The two girls are focusing on something other than the M&Ms -- that is a bit of a mystery because it is out of the frame. What was it?

#BlackandWhite, #children

Friday, October 10, 2014

How I create portraits (part 2)

Here are some examples of the before and after using the technique mentioned in Part 1:

Example A

Example B

Example C


Thursday, October 09, 2014

How I create portraits (part 1)

Here's a glimpse of my workflow:

I shoot everything in RAW and usually bracket my exposure.  Then I import my images in Lightroom 4 (LR4).  Out of the bracketed exposures, I choose one that seems right for me.  Here is a screen shot of the RAW image in LR4:

This was shot with the EF24-70mm f2.8 L ii mounted Canon 5D mk ii.  Focal length 70mm, 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400, no flash fired, aperture priority.  Not an ideal camera to have for portrait but since that was what I carried at that time - it would have to do.  As one can see, there are a lot useless space on the image.  Cropping out those useless pixels would compromise the quality of the image but I didn't have much choice.  (My EF70-200mm f4 would have been a better choice but I left that at home.)

In LR4, I tweaked the image so it looks a bit better:

Exposure +0.45, Contrast +22, Highlights -100, Shadows +80, Whites 0, Black 0, Clarity +18, Vibrance 0, Saturation -3, Tone Curve (TC) Highlights 0, TC Lights +9, TC Darks -6, TC Shadows 0, Split Toning 0, Sharpening 25, Radius 1.0, Detail 100, Noise Reduction 0, Enabled Profile Corrections, Everything else is 0.

Then I export the image to Photoshop CS6.  Here is the image cropped at 4x3 portrait:

Using Silver Efex Pro 2, the image is rendered in black and white:

Then I remove the background using layers.  It is much easier for me to remove the background when the image is already in B&W.

I used Analog Efex Pro to add some grit and dirt:

Viveza for selective dodging and burning:

On a new layer, I then tamed the highlights on the nose and the beard using the brush tool and copying the grey tones that are on the image.

Then I created a vignette using Color Efex Pro 4 and was able to easily remove the name tag with a brush tool.  We are almost there.

Then I darkened the entire image using Viveza but I masked the face so it would not be affected.

I added a film grain using Color Efex Pro 4 to smoothen out the gradation on the background.

The last step is to create a copy using Shift+Alt+Cmd+E on the iMac.  Then I applied the hi pass filter that is built into CS6.  I applied a Radius of 1.8 pixel.

Change the blend mode to Soft Light and reduce opacity to 17%.  Viola!

Hope this helps.  Next time I will write about how I get my signature shoe polish look on the faces of my portraits.  Cheers.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Riva del Garda from a room with a view

Riva del Garda is a small town located in northwestern corner of Lake Garda, which is the largest lake in Italy. 

We were blessed to have a balcony overlooking the scenery.  The weather was near perfect.   

Friday, October 03, 2014

River Verona

Photo © 2014 Rob Castro

This was taken after Rose and I left the The Verona Arena (Arena di Verona), which is Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy built in 30 AD. (I'll see if I have any good shots of the amphitheatre for the next post.) We had to walk back to the cemetery where our coach was parked - probably a good 20 minutes walk - while the rest of our group took the taxi. On the way back, we passed this river. A mix of modern and antiquated architecture and gentrification.