Saturday, July 31, 2010

Photo Challenge - Your Personal Challenge

Our current challenge is something different - challenge yourself to try something new! Here's how it's worded in the Challenge Blog (click this banner to visit the challenge):

"Michael Staley said it perfectly.....'There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.'

This next challenge will be ANYTHING that you want it to be, but it must be something new to you. I have decided to work on a few different types of photography this summer. I am concentrating on HDR & digital Infrared photography. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. You use bracketing on your camera & Photomatix to transform your images into HDR. Visit Trey Ratcliff @ Stuck In Customs & scroll down to his video at Google."

Now to MY personal challenge: I went to an evening presentation of "Two Shots of Creativity" in mid-June. The presenters were Jane Conner-Ziser and Jack Davis. Jane's creative ideas centered around portraiture, which isn't my "thing", but Jack's creativity centered around the amazing new features in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) 6 (which comes with Photoshop CS5 and was pre-ordered and installed on my computers as soon as it was available!). I've been using Photoshop since Version 7.0...over 7 years...and have used ACR exhaustively...but always just to make adjustments prior to working on my images in Photoshop. SO--my personal challenge was (and still is) to learn more about this great tool and to use it to its fullest.

My finished image is below:

Jack's lessons included teaching what he called the "4-Step Tango", first steps when working in ACR, to set the tones and color. He also showed us how to create a faux HDR look. The most enlightening part of his instructions, for me at least, was how he used Presets...and how to create your own. I'm sure most people have no presets in their ACR tabs...I know I didn't until I downloaded his. He also showed us how to use the Targeted Adjustment Tool (5th tool from the right on the top of the ACR dialog). Another great tip was how to take snapshots of your work as you progress...and these stay with the file, so you don't lose your snapshots when you save and close the image.

I can't go into detail about what I did here or what I learned from Jack, but I highly recommend, to anyone interested, that you search on the internet for 'camera raw 6 tutorials' and/or purchase Jack's new DVD (available at

Just to show how far the finished image traveled from the original, here's the photo I started with:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blogger Community Challenge - Flowers

Marie changed things up for the current challenge...Here's what she wrote: "There will be two challenges this week that will be posted....THIS one will only last a week & the following week you will have the opportunity to vote on your favorite image. This week's, challenge is "Flowers". You can do a flower garden, a macro, landscape image with flowers. It can be any kind of photo as long as it has a flower in it.Post your images on your Blog. Come back here & click on the blue button below & follow the easy instructions. This challenge starts today & ends on Monday, June 21, the voting starts on the 21st, ends on the Monday the 28th."

(Click on the banner below to visit the Challenge Blog and see the other images)

My flower image was shot in April at the Willow Wood Arboretum in Morris County, NJ. That park is a real treasure and I STILL haven't finished culling the bad ones and processing the keepers, but I loved this Golden Poppy:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Blogger's Community Photo Challenge - COLOR

This month's subject is color...but NOT just color. We want to see you create something special color-wise. Something your camera did not see. Something you saw in the photo and created in post processing.

The following image was shot in a series of ballet classes that my granddaughters attend. This is my youngest granddaughter and I absolutely loved the pose but wanted to do something more with the photo. Hope you like what I did in post processing. :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

April Challenge - Window/Windows

This month's photo challenge is "WINDOWS"....or "Window". The main focus is "window". You can use your imagination & be creative. You can use the window as a framing tool, but it must have a window in it. You can have one window, or many windows, but remember the focus is on windows.
Starts today & ends April 15th.

Click on the banner above to check out the other images and to join the fun!

This photo is a reflection of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse--one of my favorite places to photograph. The building where the window is located is across a parking lot and, as you can see, is really in need of repair.

I thought I'd post my photo early for this challenge to make up for the lateness of my last one. LOL

March Challenge - TREE

This month's challenge is TREE or TREES, whether it is one unique tree or a small grouping, find an image that includes trees. The tree or trees should be the main subject. You can post more than one photo on your blog, but when you come back to this blog select your favorite to post on our new system.

The Challenge starts Feb.15th & ends on March 15th. Post your image on your blog & come back here & try out new system. Click on the blue button, at the bottom of the post & follow the simple directions. Click on the banner above to check out the other entries.

This image is one of my favorites was shot in Newport, Rhode Island, at the Doris Duke estate, Rough Point.
I know this is really REALLY late...actually it's borderline TOO late...but I wanted to get this in. I've been swamped and sick, so this challenge has been placed on the back burner. I hope to be much better in the future, folks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Community Photo Challenge - Transportation

The subject of this month's challenge is...
Marie states, on the Challenge Blog: Our photo challenge this month is TRANSPORTATION. You can use cars, trucks, trains, planes, even motorcycles! Some kind of transportation with or without people. You can be creative, you can use Photoshop or a paint programs. It starts today & ends Feb. 15. Post it on your blog, come back here I leave your link. Remember to visit everyone's entry to see what they contributed.
My entry is titled: Your Ride Awaits
...not that I'd actually ride in either of these trucks. Found them at a flea market/auction along a country road. I've passed this location hundreds of times in my life, but never actually got out with a camera. Not sure why I waited, but it's definitely worth stopping. I got a lot of great photos that day...but this is one of my favorites.

The style of this image is HDR or High Dynamic Range. It's created by taking three exposures of the same scene (on a tripod) and then combining them as a single HDR image (using either Photoshop or Photomatix) and then applying some tone mapping (again using either the Photomatix plugin in Photoshop or the standalone Photomatix Pro program). I love creating these and hope you all like this, too.
To further clarify, Photomatix is a program created by and available at It's not very expensive (under $100 with a discount me for that code) and totally worth the price.