Behind the Lens
For several years I ran a series of columns called Featured Images and Miscellaneous Moments. Their purpose was to provide interesting or otherwise useful information about some of my current photographs.
For one reason or another these were discontinued, but I continue to receive queries about various images published here, and so I now have Behind the Lens as a venue for describing either an interesting shooting situation, or image processing technique associated with a particular shot.
Equestrian Winter Geometry
Sony R1 @ ISO 160
I have driven by this horse farm in the Caledon Hills north of Toronto a dozen or more times over the past few years. It's not really on my way to or from anywhere. In fact it's sort of nowhere. But the geometry of the corral fences has always caught my eye. I've photographed it a few times, but never successfully, because all that the fences had to offer were their geometry. When there are horses grazing on the hill, then you have fences and horses, but it never quite come together in a meaningful way before.
This particular day, with the rolling hill covered in a deep fresh covering of snow, I very much liked what I saw. But as I stood their deciding on how best to frame the shot a horse slowly walked into the upper left of the frame, and that completed the composition that I was looking for.
– February, 2006
Woods and Yellow Jacket
Sony R1 @ ISO 400
1/200 sec – f/4.8 – 72mm (120mm Equiv)
When the weather turns nasty, especially in winter, many photographers retreat indoors. I see it as an opportunity though, and whether in the city or country, I grab a camera, put on my parka, and take a drive. No destination in mind – just looking for whatever might catch my eye.
In this case I drove to a park near the city's waterfront. The snow was wet and therefore sticky, and the wind was blowing strongly off the lake, gluing the snow to just one side of the tree trunks. I was attracted by the strong pattern of the trees as well as the distance-blurring caused by the heavy snow fall.
As I was experimenting with several different framings I saw a dog run though the lower right of frame. A quick glance showed a man in a yellow jacket following, and I reframed so that he would appear in the shot. When reviewing the files I immediately saw that this was the frame that worked best, obviously because of the strong contrasts and juxtaposition.
At first I processed the image as a sepia tone B&W, because I liked that type of tonality for the trees. But of course it lost the yellow of the man's parka, which I really liked. So I created a second layer, converting it to monochrome with a sepia tint using Convert-to-B&W Pro, and then I desaturated the original layer, with the exception of the yellows. Finally, I used the Opacity slider to achieve a blending of the two layers that worked best.
Red Leaves, Black Branches
Red Leaves, Black Branches. Ann Arbor, Michigan. January, 2006
Canon 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS @ ISO 200
A very similar technique to the one used in Woods and Yellow Jacket above, was applied here. I created a Duplicate Layer and converted it to B&W. I then applied a slight Gaussian Blur to the layer (about 30). I then switched to Multiply Mode and blended the layers to taste with the Opacity Slider. Finally I pushed up the Yellow and Red saturation sliders till I got the colour and saturation that I wanted in the leaves.
An interesting side note to this shot was that we were driving back from Chicago to Toronto just after a quite beautiful ice and snow storm the night before. We kept leaving the Interstate from time to time to do some shooting on country roads, but nothing seemed to work. Then in Ann Arbor we stopped to visit a friend for coffee, and this tree was found right in front of his house. Just what I'd been looking for all along.