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Category: photography (Page 2 of 3)

Cà d’Zan Mansion, Sarasota, Florida

Just a photo today. This view of the patio of the Ringling mansion in Sarasota — the building is rather ostentatiously called the Cà d’Zan — was taken looking out through its tinted windows.

This is from a couple of years ago. I happened across it when I was cleaning up an old photo card I haven’t used in, well, a couple of years.


A couple more photos here. Maybe more coming to the same set, if time allows.


What’s going on here?


Maybe by the time this post runs the photo will have been widely printed. If not, you can still try your luck at guessing what this picture — which won the 2008 World Press Photo of the Year contest — represents. Answer after the break …

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Photography the hard way

John Chiara demonstrates his process.


via photodoug


Big columns at the National Building Museum, Washington, DC

building museum columns

Huge, aren’t they? See them at the National Building Museum.

Kind of a random post, but I’m on the road and don’t have a lot of time for internet. Here’s another view of this remarkable building:

national building museum, washington, dc


Photo Wednesday: woodtype figures

woodtype figures

This image of woodtype figures sorts at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, is from Nick Sherman‘s photostream.


Photo Wednesday: abandoned books

abandoned books

This photo of books simply left behind after a St. Louis Public Library move comes from nathansnider’s photostream.


Tilt-shifting the Pioneer Monument

Let’s have a little fun tilt-shifting San Francisco‘s Pioneer Monument. I choose the Pioneer Monument for a couple of reasons: I look down on it out my window at work, and I find it offensive with its glorification of Frisco fat cat robber barons and its demeaning portrayal of Native Americans. Ready? We’ll want to keep the pigeonshit on main figure’s head in focus. Here goes. Wheee!

tilt-shifting san francisco's pioneer monument

Wasn’t that fun? Many people see this effect as creating the illusion of a miniaturized landscape. You can do it, or something very like it, with an extremely expensive camera called a “tilt-shift” (whence the name of the effect). Or you approximate the effect in five or ten minutes of Photoshop.

The technique is described, with a few variations, in many places around the web. You can check it out on your search engine. Or, you can just read on.

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Difficult photo subject

dusk on longoat key

I was struck by a subtle quality of light at dusk on Longboat Key. It’s the kind of effect that is very difficult to get in photos. It was very dark by then, and my Canon A620 isn’t as good at low-light situations as an SLR would be. I shot this at ISO 400, 1/30, 3.5. In Photoshop I lightened it a bit just by moving the center and right levels sliders — I didn’t want to use my regular technique for lightening dark photos, because I wanted to keep the sense of gathering darkness. I also increased the saturation just a little. I think the result is the sort of picture that some people might like while others will just shrug.

My Photoshop default workflow

I process most images that I post to the web in Photoshop, and I have a simple workflow that does what I want with a minimum of fuss. The whole process only takes a minute or two. Allow me to demonstrate.

photoshop default actions

I’ve chosen an image more or less at random (except that it is one that I like, from this photoset). My vantage point was looking down at a river from overhead, with colorful leaves on the right. For the purpose of this demonstration the image has been resized to fit this space (435 pixels wide).

The first thing I do is to open an action I’ve saved under the name “open adjustments.” This opens three adjustment layers: levels, curves, and hue/saturation in that order, which is the order I make the adjustments.

First I look at levels. If they look well balanced I might leave them alone. Often they are weighted to either darks or lights, and I slide the midtone triangle to get a better balance. That often makes the image look worse but it puts it in position for the next adjustment, curves. Usually I find a midpoint that looks good and then generally make an ess-shaped curve in order to get a good range of darks and lights. Finally, I adjust hue/saturation. With my current camera this usually means just increasing the saturation a little bit.

photoshop default actions

Next I open an action I’ve saved under the name “hi-pass sharpen.” This sharpens the image using the duplicate layer – invert – blur – overlay – adjust transparency workflow that I have described previously. I don’t like oversharpening, so my default transparency is a modest 40 percent. It’s important to remember to select the background layer first or you will just be sharpening your hue/saturation adjustment. One nice thing about this way of sharpening is that it is size independent, so I can resize my image and do a save for web to reduce the file size without having to resharpen.

The entire process is done with adjustment layers and is completely nondestructive — no changes are made to the original image. Below the image as it came from the camera is on the left and the adjusted image on the right.

photshop default actions

More fall color

fall color on taughannock falls walk

This photo was taken on the walk to Taughannock Falls near Ulysses, New York, in the Finger Lakes region. For more fall color, see the clickable thumbnails below.

The thumbnails are courtesy of Duane Storey’s Crossroads plug-in. I’m soliciting feedback — does this feature make the page too slow too load?

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about book design.

Cornell color

I’ve been on the road in PA and NY. Will return tomorrow. We’ll file this post under “photography.” It’s an image of a lake on the Cornell campus in Ithaca. The composition uses the principal of thirds, and the exposure is balanced for the trees.

The fall color seemed weird since the temperature was over 80. To local connoisseurs of fall color this is hardly a spectacular season, but coming from the San Francisco Bay Area I find it pretty extraordinary just the same.

Portuguese libraries, photographed by Candida Höfer

library in coimbra, purtugal

Candida Höfer‘s photographs of Portuguese libraries, now on display at the Sonnabend Gallery, 536 West 22nd Street in NYC, presents libraries as places of opulence. In these settings the books, clearly precious objects, convey an almost religious authority.

Shown is Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra VI 2006.

Via If:Book.

Eugene de Salignac, photographer of NYC

photography by eugene de salignac

David Pescovitz of Boing Boing calls our attention to an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit consists of early twentieth century photos by Eugene de Salignac documenting the rise of the modern city. Salignac had been forgotten until New York City Municipal Archives senior photographer Michael Lorenzini recognized the artistry of the photos and catalogued his work. The image above shows painters on the Brooklyn Bridge, 1914. The exhibit will be on view from May 4 through Oct 28.

Little Planets

little planets: an experiment in photography

Quoting from the site:

A peculiar sort of remapping for spherical panoramas that makes everything look like an illustration out of The Little Prince.

Basically, to make these, you have to make an equirectangular first. Your best resources for learning how are panomundo and panoguide. It’s not easy and is rarely cheap.

From there, you remap the equirectangular in one of two ways. You can resize it to a square and convert from Cartesian to polar coordinates (you can even get away with non-360 panos) or you can do a Stereographic remapping using the open-source Hugin, the GIMP Mathmap plugin, or the Photoshop shareware plugin, Flexify, then crop.

The Photoshop Wizardry of Al Qaeda

al qaeda image manipulation

A new program reveals manipulation in still photos and videos. It shows Al Qaeda images have been heavily manipulated. Story via Wired.

Red Hat Ladies

red hat society ladies

These ladies were having a great time at the Getty Center. They thought it was a hoot that I wanted to take their picture.

More L.A. photos: At Buried Mirror I’ve posted a couple of pictures of the wonderfully kitsch facade of the Mayan Theater.

The Observatory at Chichen Itza

el caracol, the observatory at chichen itza

I’m having some trouble getting my Maya materials online because there are so many of them, and there’s just so little time. So, we’ll do this one building at a time. This is “El Caracol” (“the snail,” so called in Spanish for its winding internal staircase), which is called “The Observatory” in English.

It’s not hard to see how it gets that name, because it looks a lot like a modern observatory. It’s quite unusual for a Maya building, with its round dome placed on a square base. Slits in the dome allowed viewing the sky at the cardinal and subcardinal directions. Certainly the movements of celestial objects were important to the Maya, and their astronomical reckoning was quite advanced (witness their highly accurate calendar). But I’m not sure that we can say definitively how this building was used in its particulars. As with all Maya sites, a great deal of fancy has come to surround the ruins, making it difficult to separate fancy from fact.

The earliest parts of the Observatory were probably constructed in the ninth century. The building underwent several modifications over the succeeding centuries.

Click the small image in the post to see several more images of the Observatory.


Over at Frisco Vista I’ve posted a photo of a windmill in Golden Gate Park and, for comparison, one in Bruges, Belgium.

Well, I guess I’m on a windmill kick. (After all Cervantes and I share a birthday . . . the day, not the year, smart ass!) So here’s a picture of the inside of one of the Bruges windmills:

bruge windmill workings

Puerto Morelos

puerto morelosMuch of the Maya Riviera, stretching from Cancun south beyond Playa del Carmen, is a bit of a horror show, full of giant resorts and traffic jams, and crawling with loud, lobster-red gringos. Puerto Morelos (“la joya del Caribe” — the jewel of the Caribbean), however, though just 25 kilometers or so south of Cancun, still retains — for the moment — much of its flavor as a sleepy fishing village. I’ve posted a few lazy photos on my flickr site.

The Cult of the Talking Cross

the spring of the talking crossI’m starting to put up some images from my recent trip to the Yucatan. As part of the project I’m revamping the Maya World section of my site (making it a little more autonomous, on the theory that people who are interested in the Maya aren’t necessarily equally interested in typography or publishing or gardening in the Bay Area or others of my hobby horses). Anyway, the image at left is a picture of the little spring that sustained the rebel community of the Talking Cross, the Maya band that nearly drove the non-Maya from the peninsula during the Caste War in the second half of the 19th century. (The spring is located in present-day Felipe Carrillo Puerto.) The image is part of a page I’ve put up on the Cult of the Talking Cross (the Talking Cross revolt figures in the novel that I’m currently completing).

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