my thoughts on anything - photogrpahy or not
It's been nearly two months since my last update - and let me tell you, a lot has changed for me within two months. This refers to my skills within the scope of photography and editing, as well as my life in general. My life has completely changed and is in high gear - college has commenced online. As much as I love staying on the computer, this is awful. The workload and the amount of time I spend studying is so absurdly long that I honestly just lose track of the days. I didn't really have a plan per se, so I ended up just stuck in a cycle of studies and gaming - pretty boring stuff. I wanted to break that cycle, and picked up the camera again this weekend.
So, I planned to go to Burnside Farms, a farm where they have really pretty flowers to take pictures with. Their specialty is the sunflowers, which would've come out fantastic! However, read what I wrote again. Read they keyword, planned. Yes, that is right. We did not end up going to Burnside.
They had closed down due to COVID-19, despite being open for the previous months and being open last week. I love my luck. We ended up going to this place called the Bluebell Trail - it supposedly had pretty blue flowers on the trail. I took a look at the pictures on AllTrails, picked up some Boba, and headed there straight away. The route was pretty confusing, and it did not help when Apple Maps took me to a fenced off area and didn't tell me to take a U-Turn when I missed the correct street. However, surely it would be worth it! Yeah about that...we ended up not even being able to find the trail and being stuck on this muddy path with WHITE shoes. My luck continually runs dry and refuses to replenish. There were mosquitos everywhere - who allowed it to be this hot and muggy in September?
I decided to make the best of the situation, and play along with my surroundings. It was late - around 5pm to 6pm if I remember correctly. The sun was at the position right before a sun would be for a sunset. This would be perfect for some backlit pictures! My camera, the Nikon D3200, struggles constantly with autofocus and I honestly don't trust my own eyes to do manual focus, so the beginning part of the session was very much a chore. Even if I'd get the focus right, I wouldn't know till I loaded it up on my computer since the low-res camera screen would mislead me. Despite this, I pushed on. I think the one indication for improvement was the fact that I was able to take advantage of the shadows and sun as well as I did. Of course, there is always room for improvement and I definitely could've done a lot of things better. However, I'm really proud of how these pictures turned out.
Time was almost up, and we wanted to go home after the bugs did a number on our limbs and faces, but just as we were about to leave, an idea popped in my head. The sun at this point was much lower, so what would happen if I lined up the sun with her head? I quickly lay on my back, and took aim. It looked astonishing - almost like her hair was glowing. I didn't even realize it at the time, but the trees were also in the background, giving the picture an amazing bokeh effect with the best candid poses ever. Those were the pictures I was the most proud of. This session really ended up being practice for me utilizing the environment around me to my advantage rather than changing my camera settings to match the world - after all, I only changed them two or three times. I definitely kept the aperture all the way open for that shot, but had it a little bit more closed for the beginning shots with the trees all around and the subject more far away. ISO was set to 100 so that I wouldn't risk any noise and shutter speed was probably the one I changed the most.
After I got home, I looked at all the pictures and was shocked at how many of them actually turned out good. However, I also noticed that the mosquitos really did a number, and knew that I had to get to work editing. I'm not only proud of how the pictures turned out in the camera, but also how they turned out in Lightroom & Photoshop. This was probably the first time I used Photoshop in conjunction with Lightroom, and it definitely was a life saver. The shot I had gotten lying on my back and was so proud of, was riddled with bug bites. It was such a good picture, yet I wasn't going to let it go unused because of a few bugs. While researching online, I came upon the high-pass filter technique of editing. This essentially smoothens skin, but when you do it, it also looks pretty natural. The skin looks clear, but not smudged or blurry. I also made liberal use of the band-aid looking tool (I think it's called spot removal?). The results were SO good. This was the moment that I knew I truly had improved.