Photo experiment – day 9 of 31

Today’s experiment is not exactly photography – this image is produced by scanning.

What I learned:

  • getting all the dust off the scanner is critical, and frustrating
  • composing isn’t easy, since you see the composition from the back side
  • I couldn’t get one of those super-high-res scans due to my scanner’s limits – so this was at 600ppx (while my scanner goes up to 2400ppx, it won’t handle the resulting scan size – so the 2400ppx scans are only possible if you are scanning something that is just an inch or two across).

Definitely something to try again – probably with multiple scans so that the layering and composition can be more sophisticated.

Photo experiment – day 8 of 31

Today I tried a fisheye lens – so it didn’t take much effort (although I did find out that one can create a lot of boring images with a fisheye before finding some subject matter that works). I don’t have a fisheye lens for my DSLR, so this is using the olloclip fisheye on the Iphone.

It does create an interesting illusion – this photo is exactly the same width and height, but that is not how it looks.

Photo experiment – day 7 of 31

Today’s experiment is focus stacking.

I took 12 images of this flower, with a 60mm macro lens about 15 inches away.  With the lens set on manual focus, I moved the focus of the lens slightly between each photo.  Then I stacked the photos in Photoshop, and used the auto-blend layer stack option.

The result is pretty good.  What could make the result better:

  • more patience on my part
  • an automated way of changing the manual focus – there is equipment for this.  I just tried to manually turn the lens a small amount between each photo
  • a steady tripod – mine is the $20 tripod version, so is not rock-solid within and between shots
  • probably a different scene or getting closer to benefit the full use of the macro lens would be a more interesting shot
  • Photoshop’s autoblend action creates a different layer mask for each layer in the focus stack, so it would be possible to adjust any of these masks to refine the results.  I kind of liked the way the automation created sharp focus in the gray background at the bottom, but not at the top, so I left that alone.

Photo experiment – day 6 of 31

Today’s experiment is lightpainting.

This image was shot in a dark room, using a flashlight that had multicolor light.  For a few seconds, the scene was lit by the blue light from the flashlight, then with a quick burst of white light directed toward the middle of the scene.  I held the flashlight in one hand and a camera release with the camera on bulb mode in the other hand.

What I found was that it took a lot of tries to get something that was lit enough but not too much.  The main issue was that the flashlight beam was large in relation to the scene.  Next time I try this, I will either use a larger scene or modify the flashlight so that the beam is smaller, so that the light can be more selectively applied across just certain parts of the scene.


Photo experiment – day 4 of 31

Today I created a waterdroplet effect, using the Iphone app Marblecam.


This app is really easy to use, but it took me a lot of trial and error to get a decent image.  You can control the size of the droplet, and the placement on the page, but not what it reflects and what it leaves in the background.   So it first takes getting the right sort of image, and then trying various crops of it so that Marble Cam picks up an area of the image that not only looks interesting, but is well-placed in relation to the background.  I’ve seen great waterdroplet shots – mine I think is pretty and interesting but doesn’t approach that level.

Photo experiment – day 3 of 31

Today’s experiment was to take an ordinary daytime photo and turn it into nighttime.

The result:

And here is the image I started with:


First, I used the Midnight filter in Color Efex Pro to turn it into a dark scene.  This filter not only darkens the photo, but can add a bit of blur to it so that it does not look daytime-sharp.

Then I wanted to create lights in the lampposts.  The lamp on the far left was in an awkward place and didn’t add anything to the picture, so I cropped it out.  This left only the one lamppost.  I tried to use Topaz Star Effects but quickly realized that it doesn’t create effects unless it has a light point to work with.  So in Photoshop, I painted a small white blob where the lightbulb would be, and then went back into Topaz Star Effects.  I had to experiment with this a couple of times before it didn’t look totally fake.  And the light created by Star Effects goes in all directions, so I ended up masking and cloning out the light that went above the lamppost.  Overall, I was about 50% satisfied with the result – Star Effects works great when there are points of light to start with, but my painted-on white blob was not a good starting place (also, if I started with a yellow blob, Star Effects doesn’t recognize it, so I had to use a white blob).

The final steps were to darken the sky more, using Viveza, and then to increase the contrast slightly in Lightroom.

Overall, I think the result is decent but not great.

Photo experiment – day 2 of 31

For today’s experiment, I decided to create an extreme high-key photo, starting with a normally-exposed photo, and using Photoshop and Color Efex Pro.


It didn’t take long to figure out the sort of photos that look good in high key (or, especially, the ones that look bad – there were some I tried that were great subject matter for high-key if they had originally been planned that way, but the backgrounds ruined the shots for high key).

Here is the original


You can see that I cropped the photo for the high-key version.  One of the reasons was the arm in the photo – under the high-key treatment, it completely disappeared and so the area under the sleeve was empty and looked awkward.  So one thing I learned is that areas work well where there is something that remains as an edge under high-key – like the headgear surrounding her face, which provides clear separation from the background.


[Model courtesy of the Westcott photo-shoot booth at Photoshop World]

Photo experiment – day 1/31

Given that it is the doldrums of August, I thought I’d try a new photo experiment each day of the month – trying a new technique, plugin, subject, app, or something else I haven’t tried before.

Today’s experiment is the Flood plugin.

The Flood plugin is from Flaming Pear, with a free trial version.  It’s really easy to use.  At its most basic, all you have to do is to drag the horizon line up to the point where you want the water’s edge.  There are lots of other options and refinements possible.

As you can see, it creates realistic water and reflections.   The photo is one I took 3 years ago, when I was just starting out with photography, using a point-and-shoot.  So even starting with a not-very-high quality jpeg, this plugin seems to work very well.  Although, of course, there aren’t that many occasions where this plugin could be used without being a gimmick.

For reference, here is the original photo.