So very random to publish something about Oklahoma City on Valentine’s Day, but that’s what I feel like today. A little thought about traveling. Most of people dream to travel to well-known, famous destinations, and that’s fine, but let’s not forget what’s closer and most accessible to us. My American friends don’t really understand why would we want to visit Oklahoma City, but may I say, why not? I for one had a pleasant surprise. Some are asking the wrong question: was it nice, did you like it? It’s not about liking it or not, it is about discovering things you haven’t seen or experienced before. This is where the pleasure of travel comes from. In Oklahoma City we had one of the most interesting hotels experiences, at 21C Hotels, we discovered Dale Chihuli’s stunning glass work at the Oklahoma Museum of Art, we learnt some about of the history of the city, we had some amazing food experiences, we met local people, we’ve seen some very interesting architecture. So traveling to Oklahoma City was a pleasant and enriching experience :).
I mean, photographically. Both the country I live in (US), and the country I was born in (Romania) are going through tension and difficult times, so you can imagine there is already too much politics in my life. This blog belongs to my photographic journey alone, and I wanted to share my experience as a photographer at the Women’s March in Dallas.
I left with by Fujifilm X-T1 and two lenses: xf35mm 1.4 (50mm in full frame) and xf14mm 2.8. (21mm in full frame), plus my Fujifilm x100S (23mm 1.8, which is 35mm in full frame). Changing lenses for me is a pain, because I tend to be sloppy with technology, but I can’t work with zoom lenses. That being said, I started with the 35mm (50mm) attached, because it is a new lens and I was quite excited to try it out at an event. I didn’t feel I could capture the energy of the protest with that lens. I changed to the wide angle and took some captures before the group started marching. These are some of my favorite images.
When we started marching, I changed back to the 35mm (50mm), with the thought I’ll try to make some portraits. I ended up with some good captures, but I don’t feel about these images as strong as I feel about the wide angle ones.
The lesson I learnt from this experience is that for me, a wide angle is the perfect lens for situations with large groups of people, where I need to convey tension, energy, action. Maybe 14mm is too wide, and I guess the xf16mm would had been the perfect lens here (this will probably be my next purchase). For documentary purposes, the 35mm (50mm) served me well, but I find the images flat and boring.
X100s (23/35mm) was ok, but still not wide enough. Better than the 35/50mm, but I didn’t get to use it that much.
What do you think? Which set do you prefer from above, and what do you use for similar situations?
I just came back from watching LaLa Land and I just want to say:
Here’s to the ones who dream, as foolish as they might seem!
My entry for Ambience, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about presets in the past, but recently I’ve been approached by Sleeklens and asked to try their Lightroom portrait workflow and give an honest review. No other conditions. Take them, try them and let the world know what you think.
So I’ll get straight to the point. I was really curious to try them, because from my past experience, presets are a hit or a miss. There is maybe this preconception that presets will turn a bad photo into a good one, but I found out that’s not really true. If you have really bad lighting no bad picture will magically transform in a piece of art. I also used to think that using presets is some kind of cheating, taking the short road and pretending you know something you actually have no idea about. From where I stand, a self-thought photographer and Lightroom user, presets have helped me understand how Lightroom works. Every time I would use a new preset and like the results, I would check to see what were the changes made to the image. With time I learnt I can obtain a certain look in Lightroom without using presets, but I also came to realize that editing in Lightroom can take 80% of the time you dedicate to photography. So yes, I welcome presets for the time they save me and sometimes for the amazing results I can get by using them.
I shoot RAW, so my starting point is pretty much an image that even though it has good lighting and composition, looks BLEAH. And in most of the cases, I am looking for contrast, rich colors and depth – which are easy to apply to non-person images, but tricky to do it with portraits. I’m also looking for one-click fixes, otherwise I don’t see the point of presets. So I gave Sleekness a try. Here it is what I found out.
I like this picture of my friend Adrianna – who is a Top Gun fan (if you haven’t figure that out already) – but I felt the white balance was off, a bit too cold for my taste, the skin looked unnatural. I have to say I applied some minor changes to the image on the left (just some tiny local fixes). The right image is just one click away: I applied the Sleeklens – Base Edit 2 workflow and I’m really happy with the result – I love how it changed the white balance and the color of the skin and still looks so natural.
Then I went a bit father and applied the Black Dreamy Vignette + the High Contrast Polish preset and I’m happy with the result. I have to say that when I edited this photo some time ago, it took me some time playing in Lightroom until I found a look I liked. So big help from Sleeklens here.
This I started with one click: I applied the Sunset Portrait 2, but then I got some highlight clippings on her shoulder and face and some loss of detail in the shadow areas. I had to fix those manually, with a brush. So this is a point I would like to highlight. Be careful here, especially if you want to print. A clipped area (loss of all detail) means no pixels. I’m not going to pretend I understand how all works, but I know there are presets that will never give you clippings, so you don’t have to worry. All in all I love the final result.
Something similar. I like how the High Key Sunset preset enhances the colors and adds a fresh look to the image. I had to work a little bit on highlights and shadows here too, as her skin on arms and legs was getting too bright and I was loosing detail in the dress. But I like the happy crisp look of the image, and I think it suits her personality really well.
I applied the Deep Portrait preset to the below image and I am happy with the result. I wanted a little bit of warmth and depth added to this image, but after I applied the preset the plant in the foreground became kind of yellowish, so I applied a local brush and changed the temperature. Also recovered some small shadow areas in the background.
I really like this one. I wanted an old film like look, with rich, warm but slightly desaturated tones and Sunset Portrait 2 did the work. Again, I had to locally recover detail from highlights and shadows, but that just took 30 seconds.
And one last one, as I wanted to try one of their monochrome presets. This is Duo, and I like the airy, creamy look, and the fact that added some detail to the hair which I really wanted. This is really just the result of one click.
My conclusions? I think is safe to say presets are worth the investment. Not only they save time, but they give us more creative freedom and in my case at least, they teach me a lot about Lightroom. They also help me figure out, in time, what are the looks I prefer and I maybe figure out my unique style.
There are few things I personally don’t like when it comes to most of presets bundles in general, and Sleeklens is no exception here. I find that many of the presets are so exaggerated that either they will never be used, either they will be wrongly used by beginners (I’ve seen this so many times). Personally I prefer a small bundle with no more than 5, 6 excellent presets, but I guess big numbers sell better. That being said, their price for the bundle is really reasonable and it’s worth having so much to experience with and make your own decision about what you will use on a regular basis and what not.
The two things that would really convince me to get the bundle are the Base Edit 2 (how easy it was to get that natural skin tone!) and the presets that add warmth without making the skin orange (which I encountered in many presets I used in the past).
This is where you can get the Sleeklens Workflow for Portraits bundle, for just 39$: LINK. And there is much more than just portraits workflows and Lightroom. Check for yourself, I’ve noticed they have some pretty great discounts too.
More details about their photo editing service: Professional Photo Editing Service
Additional presets for Lightroom: All Lightroom Presets
I hope this was useful. Cheers 🙂
This post is inspired by a concern a photographer posted on a photography group I belong to, and it is actually a concern we all have, at one point or another, no matter what kind of creative work we do. We look at our work and we think is “BLEAH” (to quote the photographer in question) and we look at others’ work and we think is great. I don’t think there is a need to say it, this approach kills creativity and passion. This is a message I will pass on from wiser people: It is ok to critique your work, actually necessary to be able to improve, but it is not ok to judge it. Be compassionate towards yourself and your work. Do your best to be a better photographer than a day, a week or a year ago, find artists that inspire you, even try to emulate their work, but don’t compare yourself to others. We are all at different stages of our journeys, and we are all different, and no journey will be the same. Love your work, appreciate the effort you put in to create it, and try to improve it every day. The rest will come.
In other news, it snowed in Dallas yesterday, and it was my first snow since I moved to Dallas (last year didn’t snow). It was also the coldest day I’ve experienced in a while (-5 Celsius) and I have to say that was exhausting. I can’t help wondering how I managed to survive all those Romanian winters 😀
It’s been some time since I’ve participated in a WordPress photo challenge, but for this one I immediately had the image that said resilience in mind. I recently I traveled to New Orleans for the first time, and although I usually don’t take up-front photos of landmark buildings, there was something about the St. Louis Cathedral that inspired me to make this classic composition. I didn’t know all the facts at the moment I took the shot or when I edited it, it’s only when I posted the image on Instagram that I did a research. St. Louis Cathedral is a the oldest cathedral in the United States (church until 1794, in the actual state since 1850). Located in the French Quarter, the cathedral sits next to Jackson Square and faces the Mississippi River. It was bombed in 1909, visited by John Paul II in 1987 and its organ (and some other parts of the building) were severely damaged during the Hurricane Katrina. It is also thought the building is haunted. Taking about resilience?
This is a spontaneous post, I didn’t have any intention to write it out, but I kept thinking what I want for my photography journey in 2017 and I think writing it down might help sealing the deal. 🙂 So, before I start, Happy New Year everyone, I am thankful for the inspiration this community has provided me in the past almost three years and even if now I have a brand new website I’ll keep my photographic journey documented here where it started.
So, briefly, what do I wish to do in 2017 regarding my photography?
There are many more little things I’m thinking about, but this is the big picture.
2017 is the year of DREAMING BIG!
I’d love to hear your thoughts, advices, or your own resolutions. 🙂
Lately I’be been absent from this blog, but not without a good reason. Since then I finally launched my website, I ordered my business cards and started a new blogging section on the new website. I’ve also been busy with uploading images for stock photography and I’m happy to say I have a great approval rate – better than I actually expected. I have no idea if I will be able to continue to blog here or not. I guess I’ll just leave things grow organically and will figure it out on the way. I’ll continue to follow my reader feed though to see what you guys are up to.
Now, I would like to share some links with you if you are curious about my new online presence (they are in fact all links to different sections of the website, so once you get there you can see everything):
At the moment I am testing a Fujinon 60mm macro 2.4 lens I borrowed from a friend, and although these are not macro pictures, I wanted to share them just because I love the autumn mood and the colors 🙂
See you soon friends, have a beautiful holiday season. ❤
I’ve been waiting for a Halloween photo challenge to share this photo and I feel Transmogrify is perfect. Wide angle lenses are not usually used in portraits, not in ones where the subject is so close anyway, but any now and then they make the perfect tool to turn a normal image into something quite extraordinary and blown out of proportions. Perfect for a Halloween portrait I would say 🙂
Ines Monnet and I ‘met’ here, in the blogosphere, a few months ago, and we clicked. At the time we had similar concerns (and I think we still have) but somehow it helped both of us to talk to each other and get an outsider opinion. We also decided we want to do a collaborative project, and the theme was a flower portrait, but as we found out it’s not that easy to pick and find a common ‘subject’ when one lives in Texas and the other in Switzerland. We decided on a white rose, just because we thought that must be something easy to find in both places, well… it was not. In the end, funnily enough, we chose something that has ‘rose’ in the name, but couldn’t be more different as a subject: rosehip.
Although in Dallas we have no sign of winter (it’s still in the 80s – 90s or 30s in Celsius), I’m still excited about winter coming so this bloom inspired me winter. I researched this winter’s interior design colors and what I found was right up my alley: deep, dark, rich colors (blues, greens, reds, oranges) strong contrasts of complimentary shades (just searched this on Pinterest).
Because there was no way I would have such a backdrop at home, I just focused on getting the right light on the rosehips, as far away from my walls as possible, so the background is smooth (I added a photo of the setup at the end of this post). I shot with my Fujifilm x-T1, and the fx56mm 1.4 lens (equivalent of 85mm), at 5.6. To change the background color I applied a cross-process in Lightroom and minor adjustments, and then moved to Photoshop to add some texture, contrast and brightness. At my suggestion, we agreed on making a triptych, but here I am cheating a little bit, as I could’t make up my mind on which three images to choose. If I have to frame these, I would rather do it vertically, on a narrow wall. I feel like because of the bottle neck, they won’t go well together on an horizontal plan.
I can’t wait to see what Ines has done with our assignment, it was so fun to do a collaboration – it really pushed me a bit harder than if I was doing this by myself. To be honest, I would had never chosen rosehip as a subject to begin with. 🙂
Later edit: Check out Ines’ part of the project: Triptych | A collab photo project. I am smiling now, because I just realized we picked two different plants, with a similar look :)))). But I am loving it. I think is all part of the experience and I like we kept the element of surprise.
And the setup: my mini natural light studio at home 🙂
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