Making the moon shine — a photography question

We returned home from a family birthday celebration on Saturday to find the Harvest Moon glowing in the night sky. I got my tri-pod and made every effort to record what I was seeing with my eyes. Like in this picture, I saw the dark silhouette of the trees the moon was rising through and some clouds in the sky.

Yet I also saw the detail on the moon like you can see in this photo. I couldn’t get my camera to record them both at the same time. When I looked it up online, I saw the suggestion that you take two photos and use Photoshop to put the good moon on top of the good landscape.

Let me start by saying that this photo has a lot of things wrong with it, not the least of which is that there are branches across the moon that don’t line up with the trees I captured. So the first step if you’re trying this, is to make sure the moon is not obstructed in any way. If I were really good at Photoshop, I could possibly have corrected that problem, but alas, I’m not.

Anyway, this is the shot I was hoping to get, but not able to. Do you know any other non-Photoshop way of taking a photo like this?

When I woke up at 4:00 a.m., I saw a bright light in the sky flooding in from our bedroom window, which is on the opposite side of our house from where this photo was taken earlier in the evening. The moon had traveled around and was now visible in a different place in the sky. That set me to thinking about the moon going around the earth, and the earth going around on its axis, and then moving around the sun. And how fast all these things are really happening. And what might happen if the motion slowed down. Not something you want to be thinking about awake alone at 4:00 a.m.

Regardless of my lack of Photoshopping skills, and my mind’s tendency to wander, isn’t that a magnificent harvest moon?

Shine on.

Fun with PhotoShop

Now, like Toto, I’m going to expose the man behind the curtain.

While I was earning my English degree a few years back, I took several photography classes. The digital photography class was all about PhotoShop. Here is just a small sampling of the kind of fun I had in that class.

This photo is the original one I shot with my Nikon DS70 through the windshield of our car as we were driving out west. I wanted to clean up the reflection of the dashboard in the window, and lose the mirror and windshield wipers. I also thought the little white sign was distracting.

Here is my final PhotoShop edited version. You might notice I also adjusted the contrast and colors.

You can do a lot for a photo in PhotoShop just by adjusting the contrast and color saturation. This is my original shot of the grand canyon. Majestic, isn’t it?

With a little tweak from Photoshop, this one really comes alive.

This was a nice sunset I shot over the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Here is the same shot with a little boost from PhotoShop.

I know, you might be thinking, as I once did—That’s cheating. If you’re going for the pure art of Ansel Adams photography, you’re probably right. There is a real skill and art to taking a stunning photograph with everything in balance and no tacky white signs poking up. But this is digital art. And most photos you see are altered in some way. But if you’re a journalist, you are not allowed to edit objects in and out of photos. I don’t know what other rules apply there.

Since I’m neither a journalist, or a professional film photographer, I am free to do whatever I like with my photos.

Can you see me in this crowd of press reporters covering the Gorbachev and Reagan meeting in the mid-1980s? I don’t know why I wasn’t smiling like everyone else. (I should credit the original photograph, but as I did this for a class several years ago I don’t remember the source and couldn’t find it today. I hope the copyright police don’t catch up with me.)

Crazy Cardboard Regatta with a Photoshop Blur

The Crazy Cardboard Regatta is back at the Voice of America park this weekend. Contestants build boats out of corrugated cardboard, concrete or cement sealer, and duct tape. Spectators can vote for the People’s Choice Award on Friday night, and then the boats are raced on Saturday. A course is marked off on the lake at the park, and contestants are timed as they paddle their boat, one at a time, around the course.

This boat looks like an aircraft carrier. A lot of people were walking around so I blurred the background to protect their identities (since I didn’t have release forms to publish their photos.) In this photo I used the Photoshop blur tool set at 75 and manually blurred the background.

This boat is called the Nautilus. It has a distinctive shape. For the blur, I did a simple select of the background area and tried a Photoshop shape blur.

Here’s the entry from the Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty. It is actually two boats sitting side-by-side. I selected the shape of the boat with a lasso tool, inverted the selection and applied a radial blur filter with a radius of 10. It looks a little like this serpent was caught in a whirlpool.

This aircraft carrier is embellished with planes. I was told by a passer-by that a part of the deck can be removed to allow the captain to paddle the ship. I was able to crop the people out of this photo except for a random leg here and there. I eliminated those using the Photoshop stamp tool and covered the legs with grass.

Tub Time was designed, built, and will be raced by two young men, according to their mother. How fun would that be? To protect the identities of individuals in this photo, I selected the boat with the polygon selection tool, inverted the selection and then applied a box blur filter at radius 10. I had to separately select the bottom half of the young man in front of the boat and apply the filter.

This one I particularly liked. Last year it was something of an achievement for a boat to just to make it to the finish line without sinking. The creators of this boat had a sense of humor when they named it, “Float S’More.”  Using the Photoshop polygonal selection tool, I selected the boat, inverted the selection and then applied the box blur at radius 10.

This was the first boat we saw. If you look closely, you can see I need a little practice with my polygonal selection tool. I inverted the selection and applied a lens blur, radius 54 to the background. This boat looks a lot smaller in this photo than it is in real life. It can easily accommodate two adults side-by-side. My youngest son looked at this and said, “Have you ever heard of tilt-shift photography?” Apparently, it’s photography that uses blurring to give the optical illusion of items in the photo appearing much smaller, or toy-like. You can read more about tilt-shift photography and see examples here. I think this is pretty interesting and may have to try my hand at it.

This is the entry by the police wives. Like the photo above, the car looks much smaller, miniature really. I selected the top background using the polygonal selection tool and applied a box blur filter with a radius of 50.

This was one of the simpler, and smaller entries that we saw, although like the others, it would easily hold two people. Like the last one, I selected the background and applied a box blur filter with radius 50.

This large and unwieldy boat  may be lucky to make it around the first bend in the course. I applied a Gaussian blur at a radius of 5.

A sailor with a sense of humor will undoubtedly pilot the “Knucklehead.” I’ll bet he or she gets a fair share of laughs. The blur is done with a box blur filter at 25.

The boats are racing  in 88 degree weather as I sit here writing in my comfortable air-conditioned study. I wanted to go. I think it would have been worth a good laugh. Maybe next year. Maybe we’ll have a boat next year, if I can convince my husband to paddle it.

Or not.

Maybe I can talk my son into it. . .


Team Prevent Alzheimer’s:   Suggestions for prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Physical Exercise — This morning I tried to walk around the lake at VOA park again and my bum leg gave out. I probably only made it about half a mile. So I came home and pedaled on my recumbent bike for 30 minutes. Yesterday I was largely sedentary, so I really wanted to get some exercise today.

Eating Healthy — I did not  buy a funnel cake at the VOA park last night, even though they are one of my most favorite treats. I got a creamy whip ice milk instead. I ordered a plain dish of it and not  a sundae. Small, baby steps.

Mental Exercise — Today, as evidence by the above post, I have been working with Photoshop and learning about the different methods of blurring and blurring tools.

Let me know how you’re doing.

Genealogy and Photoshop

I know I’ve complained about modern technology a bit, but I love what I can do with a computer, a scanner, photographs and Adobe Photoshop. All I need is a photograph. It can be old and discolored, or spotted, even torn. If I have enough skill (which I’m not saying I do), I can transform even a small photograph into a beautiful image and make copies for friends and relatives. Amazing.

When I took a class in Digital Photography from the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio several years ago, we did a collage project. One of my interests, or hobbies is genealogy (even thought I haven’t blogged much about it as of yet). So I did a genealogy collage of my Mom’s ancestors.

Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote

I’m not a talented artist by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, but I had fun doing this. I put the photos of my mom’s parents and siblings in the bottom right corner. The large notebook paper behind these photos is a page from The Life of Anna Adams Lemmon — as I Remember It. This is a short autobiography that my grandmother wrote in the 1990s. I’ve shared an excerpt in an earlier tribute post I did for Grandma. My mom is the oldest child in the family group shots.

The bottom left corner contains the photographs of Grandma’s parents, Harrison Myron Adams and Katherine Roecker, and her siblings on the farm where she grew up. I had to edit or “fix” most of the older photos.

The small lined and dated papers are entries in Harrison’s journal where he kept track of his farm expenses and profits from the early to mid 1900s. These were a lot of fun to read through. I also included a scrap of paper that contained Harrison’s signature.

As you continue up the left side of the page you see photographs of Harrison and Katherine as they aged and with grandchildren (my mom and her sister) in the smaller photo and great-grandchildren (my two older sisters) with my mom and grandma in the four-generation photo at the top. My dad was always big on shooting four-generation photos.

On the upper right are photographs of my grandfather’s mother (Mary Etta Lemmon) and another four-generation photo with my sister, mom, grandfather and great-grandmother. All these people have fascinating stories, as I’m sure your ancestors do as well.

Underneath it all is a photo of one of a million doilies my grandmother crocheted.

Without my computer, scanner and Photoshop, I could have made a collage, but I would have either had to ruin single heirloom copies of photographs by cutting and pasting them, or had to get copies made at a photo store. Without Photoshop, the pictures, in some cases, would have been dark, scratched and torn. I would have been limited by the size of photographs I had to work with.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy hands-on cut and paste projects. Dad and I are currently (and quite slowly) working on a photo scrapbook. We’ve done pages of his parents and early childhood, the houses he lived in as a child, and his siblings. The next pages we will do will be about the time he spent in the army in Germany. I printed out copies of scanned photos to use. I read somewhere that this was a good project for someone with Alzheimers because you can use the book to help them remember if they start to forget. So far it seems like Dad remembers who we all are, and who the people in the photographs are. He’s not very good at hand-writing anymore, though. So that’s been something of a challenge.

I guess in some ways I follow in my dad’s footsteps. When my son, daughter-in-law and grandson came to visit in April, I made sure we got a four-generation photograph. Maybe it will show up in somebody’s digital (or even more high-tech) collage someday.

Mom, Me, Dad, Michael and Luke - April 2011 — Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote