Sunday, June 24, 2012

pointing to the coming rains

Last night, at a friend's house in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains, on the eastern edge of Tucson,
the sunset lit up the cloudy sky to the east--bringing out my iphone...
[Below each snapseeded image you'll see the 'before' shot.]

 ...a saguaro 'crowned' with its fruit, pointing to the promise of the coming monsoon rains:
For the above shot, used the "ambiance" tool within the "tune image" filter,
a bit of  "drama"...For all of the pictures, I cropped them into squares,
influenced, I guess, by the format of 'instagram' and the old 'holga' cameras...

Most of the holes in saguaros are birdhouses excavated by Gila woodpeckers.
The crimson fruit are gathered and made into wine by the native Tohono O'odham people for their "singing down the rain" ceremonies...
For this one, I zoomed in on the rainbow and mid-section of the saguaro,
and then a bit of the 'selective adjust' tool to brighten the cactus itself.

The rainbow was up in the 'virga'--desert rain that evaporates before it ever reaches the ground; that's just how dry the air is before the monsoon season really gets under way...
For the final picture, I used the "straighten" tool...
The building is not a house--it's a stable;
horses livin' in style in the desert...

Today or tomorrow, the rain should finally reach the ground...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"early blooms" and 'updated' Peruvian scenes

...always a fun surprise to see a photo published in the morning paper:

(taken with my iPhone after a run in Sabino Canyon;
used snapseed to 'brighten' the flowers a bit,
and then slight 'tilt-shifting' to blur the top of the cactus)

A couple of weeks ago, I 'rehabilitated' some old snapshots of Switzerland;
 this week I did the same for some photos from a trip to Perú.

On the flight down to South America, our camera got left on the plane! Of all places to be--Perú!--with NO camera!? So we had to buy a camera down there--I still wasn't ready yet to make the switch to digital, which would have been prohibitively expensive anyway, given our travel budget...So we got a point-and-shoot film camera and made do.

Thinking back, it was like having a 'toy camera' of sorts...and so I went for the 'toy camera' effect when editing these 'transplanted' shots with snapseed--using plenty of vignetting and tilt/shifting or 'center-focusing.'

The 'campiña' (countryside) outside of Arequipa,
(Perú's second-largest city, about 8000 feet up on an Andean plateau
in the south of the country)
with the El Misti volcano looming above
pre-Inca terraces still being farmed:
 One of the baroque 'sillar' (white volcanic stone) courtyards
built during the colonial era in Arequipa:

The next four photos are also from Arequipa. In 1580, just four decades after the Spanish founded the city, the Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena was established. Wealthy families paid lavish dowries in order for their daughters to become nuns here. (The existence of servants' and slaves' quarters, along with the nuns' lodging, testifies to the curious luxury that accompanied the isolation here.) A veritable city-within-a-city, this complex has been open to the public since the 1970's.

Now, down to the arid coast around Lima. The capital itself is dotted with excavations of pre-columbian cultures, but in Pachacámac, about 18 miles/30 km SE of the city, the ruins literally spill out of the sandy hills above the ocean. I visited mid-week--there seemed to be more archaeologists than tourists. Temples and tombs cause archaeologists to continually push back the date for the origins of civilization in this part of South America.  Pachacámac is one of the easiest-to-get-to pre-Inca locations to visit and learn more about these societies. On a quiet mid-week visit, it's sobering to wander the ruins of was once a vibrant complex...

 ...and below is the 'pre-Snapseed' snapshot; using a 'gentle touch' with one of the 'drama' filters brings out the texture of the sand, and then vignetting draws your eye toward the zig-zagging passageway...

a girl and her sheep,
on the Altiplano on the way to the Cañon del Colca:

mid-morning in
Machu Picchú:

Friday, June 15, 2012

from a pro: "my new favorite camera"

For today, a link to a mini-photo-essay:
"My New Favorite Camera" by Hopper Stone.

In it you can see and read why this professional photographer enjoys NOT using his 'real' cameras and why he likes editing with snapseed...

(Here's an example of his 'snapseeded' work.)

In his words, here are the 'pros of snapseed:'

1)  Non-destructive editing. You can make as many versions of a photo as you’d like and your original is always intact.

2)  Lots of the great Nik features we know and love: Structure, sharpening, Viveza-like adjustments or Color Efex Pro-like adjustments, Great Black and White conversion, control points (Yes, control points).

3)  Just as Nik introduced us to the concept of Structure, they’ve got a new one called Ambience (under “Tune Image”). Just as with structure, it’s really hard to describe, but it’s truly groundbreaking and will more than likely enter the general photography vocabulary very soon.

4)  Snapseed is perfect for both normal adjustment of your photos to just make them look nicer and for making vintage postcards, washed out color effects, textures…fun stuff.

5)  It’s stable. Rock solid stable. Plays nice with your OS. Doesn’t crash.

6)  All the fun of instagram/hipstamatic but with your input and creative vision…not the code monkey who wrote the app.

7)  5 bucks from the Apple app store.

And here's a link to the photographer's website.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Around the World in Color"--stargazers above the city of angels

Afar, the travel magazine, has posted this on its facebook page:

These happen to be my photos...and the first one circled--of the Astronomers' monument in Griffith Park in the hills above Los Angeles--is a snapseeded shot:

--a little bit of the 'drama' and 'center focus' filters for this shot.

'rehabilitated' from years ago: snapshots of Switzerland

Back in the mostly pre-digital-camera-era of the late 1990's, I went to Switzerland--twice: once for a summer-study-abroad between my junior and senior years in college, and then a few years later, during the year I lived in Paris. With a cheap point-and-shoot and/or a disposable panorama camera, I attempted to capture the almost impossibly scenic Alpine landscapes...

A few years ago, during a couple of days when I was home-from-work, sick, I scanned those snapshots into the computer, and the past few days I've been 'snapseeding' them--it's amazing how over- or under-exposed scenes from a point-and-shoot film camera years ago can be 'rehabilitated.' So, these are some snapshots that have been 'transplanted' and 'snapseeded.' Maybe you have some photos sitting in a box or stuck in an album that you've always wanted to tweak...Snapseed is ideal...

It's a village, it's a castle, it's a cheese--Gruyères!

Well above the tree-line, at the Julierpass--bovine encounter:

Mount Pilatus, the Kappellbrücke and its 14th-century Wasserturm: picture-postcard Lucerne:

 The lakefront in Neuchâtel, where I spent most of that study-abroad summer:
Taken with the disposable panorama-camera--
the Jungfrau massif: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks 
in the Berner Oberland, from the Schilthorn:

Looking down from the cable-car gondola going up the Schilthorn: 

  ...while hiking down the Schilthorn back to Mürren and the Lauterbrunnen Valley:
...another view of the glaciated Eiger and the Mönch peaks:

...on the lake, near Lucerne: 

...Alphorn players rehearsing on a Sunday morning in the Roman theater in Martigny:

from the Château de Tourbillon, looking over Sion
in the Rhône valley:
...and another view from the Château de Tourbillon, over to the Valère castle/basilica: 

High above Sion, the Lac des Dix, with its glacial 'flour'-color:
...and the tremendous dam that holds those waters back,
one of the largest and highest in Europe (larger than the Great Pyramid, incidentally):

sunflowers in a window in Zürich:

...and hiking the Heidiland Trial in spring near Maienfeld:

With the numerous filters available in snapseed, you can easily re-focus, blur, bring out color, lighten shadow, crop, frame--the editing possibilities are intuitive and almost endless...
Correcting even images that were originally non-digital--have fun!