It was a bit of a wet day today so I thought I would pass the time trying out some photo painting to create a watercolour effect with some of my images. I did a bit of research over the past couple of days and there are lots of ways of doing this, some more complex than others. Today I discovered this guy (Seven Styles) who has produced a Photoshop Action file that randomly convertes your image into a watercolour. It takes a bit of adjustment afterwards to get it the way you want it but it is certainly effective. The top image is of a small square in Saumur where we had a coffee and ice cream a couple of summers ago. I have always wanted to paint this kind of scene in watercolour, so I thought I would try it out digitally. I like the effect although it is a bit of a cheat I guess.
The following are a few more examples from my experimentation this afternoon and evening. As always, feedback is welcome.
Over the past week or two I have been very focused on tidying out my Lightroom Catalog, or should I say catalogs. Over the years since I started using Lightroom I had managed to create a complete buarach of copies of images. I began the process by consolidating all my images into one single catalog, containing over 21,000 images, many of which were duplicates. I gradually worked through them all and now have just over 4,000 left. It took a great deal of courage to finally press the delete button and remove the discarded images once and for all. No doubt I will discover that I have lost a few by mistake but I feel strangely elated at having completed the task.
One interesting aspect of going through all your old images is that you see how you have progressed in terms of post-processing of the RAW images. In some cases I know I could do much better now, but many still stand up to scrutiny I think. As a result though, I decided to take ten of my favourite images and try an alternative approach to their processing. I chose to experiment with a more desaturated look. I feel that too often one gets subconciously into a habit of over processing and creating highly saturated and contrasty images. While this can add drama and punch to your work, it can also become a bit predictable. Anyway, here are the results of my little experiment and I would welcome feedback via the comments option below.
This eveniing's walk yielded some lovely flowers and amazing light in the trees at Lochalsh Woodland Park. The above shot is of some beautiful umbellifers in the deep shade of a conifer stand. The minute I saw this scene I new it would look good in black & white with a beautiful range of tonality. The colour version is lovely, but the overall green hue tends to detract from the whites of the flower heads.
The next shot is of the fantastic buttercup meadow where the grass has yet to be cut, one of the benefits of the pandemic. Buttercups are often overlooked as flowers but they bring a wonderful golden colour to the grassy areas when left to flower.
The next shot was an attempt to capture the glorious light shining through the trees. I often find this challenging to photograph as the scene is very contrasty, between the brightest areas, usually the sky, and the darkest shadowy parts and the tree stems. This one worked pretty well I think. I reduced the clarity a little in Lightroom to soften the glow a little, more in keeping with the atmosphere at the time.
The last shot is of a Northern Marsh Orchid. I had literally just finished saying "I am surprised there are no orchids here" when I spotted this specimen. This is one of around 11 or 12 species of orchid found on the Balmacara Estate.
Another beautiful sunny day here today and I popped out to try some shots with my 70-200mm lens on my cropped sensor camera. This provides a 1.6x additional zoom as the lens is designed for a full frame camera, thus 200mm equates to 320mm when used with this camera.
This first image, in the Sunken garden at Lochalsh Woodland Walks, was taken to try and capture the broader perspective while at the same time retainng shallow depth of field. It worked reasonably well, but the contrast between the flowers and the background was not as great as I had hoped, so I applied a bit of desaturation to the whole image while retaining a bit more colour and clarity in the flowers and foreground stems.
The following image is of the same clump of dandelions but from closer-in capturing greater detail. In this case, I feel the flowers stand out much better. The central flowers are pretty sharp, despite being blown around in the breeze a bit, so I dropped the clarity on the image producing a nice soft feel.
I had a wonderful walk round the Duirinish-Drumbuie-Port an Eorna loop this afternoon and took all my DSLR kit. In the end I only used the one lens, my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, which is possibly my favourite lens, apart from being a pretty heavy combination with the 5D Mark II. As a result most of my shots ended up being of wild flowers. I might have been wiser to have swapped the lens for my Sigma 105mm macro but was just enjoying the walk and not particularly focused on my photography.
The above shot was taken in Port an Eorna (Barleyport). I really like these wild roses and they make wonderful photgraphic subjects. The rest were taken along the route and represent only a few of the wild flowers in these fantastic croft grasslands. In another few weeks the meadows should be in full bloom, so another trip will be required then.
This final image is of an abandoned croft house in Port an Eorna. I have taken quite a few shots of this old house, and today the light was quite good, although the gable was a little in the shade. The result was quite a contrasty image and I opted to de-saturate some of the intense colours and leave the building almost monochrome, making the whole seem a little more gloomy and atmospheric.
I popped out for a slightly wet walk through the local woods with the dog this morning and took along my DSLR camera fitted with my Sigma macro lens for a change. I don't do enough close-up and macro photography and it is something I always enjoy, but have usually acheived very mixed results. For these five photographs I opted for some post-processing in Nik Collection's Silver Efex Pro 2 to produce a selectively desaturated effect. The basic images were fine but lacked punch and a sense of the dull, overcast atmosphere. The first is of an oak leaf with raindrop remnants, illustrating perfectly the wet conditions these trees have to endure in the west Highlands of Scotland. The other shots were all treated in the same manner and I like them as a small collection.
I am an amateur photographer who is also a Chartered Geographer with his own part-time consultancy business and I work as an estate manager for a national conservation charity in Scotland. I am based in Lochalsh, Wester Ross, Scotland, just next to the Isle of Skye.
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