Archive for the 'Before and After' Category

Just Can’t Get Enough

Sunset at Clifton Fourth Beach

 

Sunset at Clifton Fourth Beach, South Africa

These are the same rocks at Clifton Fourth Beach in Cape Town that I photographed last week, and probably the same birds roosting on the rocks. I love this place. It’s about a five minute drive from home, so it’s one of the easiest places for me to get to with my camera and tripod. And in winter when it’s too cold for the hordes of beach goers, there’s parking almost right here. When the sunset looks good and time is running out, like this evening about two weeks ago, this is the place I head for. I’m fascinated by the rocks in the scene. I find them very pleasing and am still searching for the best way to use them in a composition. Expect many more shots from here as I try and figure it out!

 

Before and After

Such is the joy of filters that I haven’t had to process this photograph much at all. I used a 2 or 3 stop grad neutral density filter to balance the exposure between the sky and the sea. I forget which one. Then I took a few bracketed shots for the parts of the scene where the lighting was tricky. After that it was mostly about bringing light and detail back into the silhouetted rocks, and emphasising the colours already in the image.

Sunset at Clifton Fourth Beach (before)Sunset at Clifton Fourth Beach

Kogel Bay at Dusk

Kogelbaai at Sunset

 

View of Kogel Bay at Dusk

After spending a relaxing day out at Rooi Els, a coastal village just beyond the corner of the mountain in the distance, we stopped at the very picturesque Kogel Bay for a sunset photo opportunity.

Kogel Bay has sadly been in the news recently for the tragic great white shark attack on bodyboarder, David Lilienfeld.

I’ve been curious for a while about how Kogel Bay got its name. Kogel is Dutch for bullets and musket balls and things like that. It’s been suggested that the early Dutch settlers at the Cape thought that the round boulders common on this stretch of coastline resembled cannon balls, hence the name Kogel Bay. I even read a description that suggested that the round boulders rolling around in the waves sound like cannon balls loose on the deck of a pitching ship, but I didn’t find any noisy boulders like that on the day I went.

Nor any sharks fortunately.

 

Before and After

No Photomatix was used in the making of this image. But even so this is sort of, but not quite, an HDR. I took two exposures, one for the sky and one for the rocks, and blended them by hand. This effectively expands the tonal range of the image like HDR does, but in a far more subtle and controlled way than Photomatix.

After that I used some selective contrast, saturation and sharpening to make the image pop.

 

Kogelbaai at Sunset (before)Kogelbaai at Sunset

AfrikaBurn 2012

Art Installation at AfrikaBurn 2012

 

I’ve just come back from a couple of days spent out in the remote desert of the Tankwa Karoo, about five hours drive from Cape Town. Every year an amazing art and music festival is held here, and there is always amazingly photogenic weirdness to be seen. The event is called AfrikaBurn, and it’s in its sixth year. It’s the Africa regional event of the Burning Man festival held every year at Black Rock City in Nevada in the US.

It’s a far smaller event, attracting about 5,000 participants to the 50,000 at the US event, but it’s very satisfying to attend. You are expected to take everything you need for yourself: food, water, shelter. There is nothing for sale, and a gifting economy is in effect. Virtually everyone is in costume, you’ll see more sequins, velvet, and mirror balls than you’ve ever seen before. There is also a huge amount of off-the-wall art, and you can spend days exploring it all.

This particular installation reminded me of the surrealist Rene Magritte’s use of umbrellas. I’ve pored over the event brochure, and I can’t really tell whose work it is.

Edit: The installation was put together by a group of friends and architecture students at the University of the Free State and is called Death from Above. See the comments section for more details, and a heart-rending counterclaim.

 

Before and After

I tried to make this image a conventional bracketed HDR, but the umbrellas were mounted on rather wobbly sticks. Even though the wind was blowing very gently, they were all bobbing around quite a bit, and there was just no way I could align the bracketed images. So I gave up and tone-mapped a single image in Photomatix. It worked pretty well all the same, and sorted out the alignment issues. After that I adjusted the tonal ranges using luminance masks, which I’ve spoken about in previous posts. Finally I selectively boosted the contrast and saturation of the image. I think it worked out well.

 

Art Installation at AfrikaBurn 2012 (before)Art Installation at AfrikaBurn 2012

Table Mountain

Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand

 

Table Mountain as seen from Bloubergstand, Cape Town

I’ve had a great photographic weekend on a seascape photographic course with the very talented Hougaard Malan. Two solid days of shooting and processing. Magic!

This is the first image that’s resulted. I don’t think the weather was perfect for this shot, but it turned out pretty well all the same.

If you live on some other planet, this is Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, It’s also where I live. If you look very carefully you can see my house, somewhere along the back edge of the city against the mountain, in the gap between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, which is the pointy peak on the right. See, I’m waving!

 

Before and After

There’s no HDR in this image, and nothing terribly complicated in the processing. Just some contrast, saturation and sharpening … but a little goes a long way. The only trick was to use a neutral density filter to slow down the shutter speed to about a second to blur the waves.

Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand (before)Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

Pamukkale, Turkey

 

This is Pamukkale in Turkey. Its name translates evocatively into Cotton Castle, which reminds me of the Big Rock Candy Mountain of the depression era song, though unfortunately a lot less sweet. It was Easter yesterday, and my brain is still in sweet mode. Yum.

But back to Pamukkale. It’s called Cotton Castle because it’s covered from top to bottom in white travertine, deposited here over thousands of years by the action of hot springs. The travertine forms naturally into cascading terraces and pools. The effect is very strange, very beautiful, and very dazzling without sunglasses.

The mineral rich waters have had the reputation since ancient times of possessing healing properties. A spa was built here sometime in the 200s BC to take advantage of these properties, and the city of Heirapolis grew up around the spa. It was a popular place for the sick and for retiring to. Today the ruins are still visible on top of Pamukkale (you can see some in the background), and are currently being excavated. In a country that possesses far more than its fair share of ruined Roman and Greek cities, it’s not the most spectacular of ruins, and is easily eclipsed by the incredible travertine formations.

People still come here in their droves as tourists, and it’s now a World Heritage Site. You can see the floods of tourists arriving in the disance, all barefoot to minimise damage to the travertine, and carrying their shoes in their hands. We got up very early and managed to just beat the crowds to the pools and to get relatively people-free photographs. Most of the pools are off-limits to protect them, but swimming is allowed in a few of them. The pools are actually quite shallow and slippery, so people paddle tentatively in rolled up pants more than swim. When we were here, a lot of people found it appropriate to strip down to bikinis and pose in exaggerated Zoolander poses for their photos to be taken, with complete seriousness and lack of irony. It made for great peoplewatching!

 

Before and After

This is an interesting shot for this blog, because it’s not really an HDR shot in the usual sense. I’ve combined two shots instead of the usual three, one taken at 0 exposure compensation and one at -2 underexposed. Instead of Photomatix HDR software, I then combined the two shots by hand in Photoshop. I ended up using mostly the -2 shot, but bringing in the highlights from the 0 shot to give a larger range of tones and more contrast to the final image.

Pamukkale, Turkey (before)Pamukkale, Turkey



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