Elf Home, Faery Forest, Ginter Botanical Gardens (Photo Edit)

This one needs a little explaining.

Hidden off the main (paved) paths at Ginter Botanical Gardens is a Faery Forest Trail section populated with countless elf homes like this one (which is put through some filters). I had the camera set up with my long lens for flower shots so I only took a few shots rapidly (covid rules give you two hours to wander the gardens so I had to rush through everything to an extent) and this one was the only one that came out clearly.

There were all kinds of neat oddities to be found there, however. I’m not sure if it was a new section or not but it was a nice, strange realm to enter briefly. It was a bit surreal to be honest.

Witching Wood Shot in Four Steps

So rather than like write creepy Lovecraftian horror scenarios after Photoshopping pet dogs into Eldritch horrors, I have decided to share a gallery that shows one of the Witching Wood shots as it progressed through various filters. Sorry about the creepy post, by the way, I just felt the need to write about extradimensional horror after posting a mutt invoking Cthulhu for some reason. School’s getting to me I think. On to today’s image now in it’s four incarnations.

This is the original exposure, not run through Camera RAW; I shot it years ago with a Nikon D50 before I even knew what the aperture was (it’s a nice composition but for years that was the only thing I knew how to do effectively, I can kinda use a camera’s technical capacities and almost know what I’m doing these days).

This is that original negative after being run through Camera RAW, sort of the underpainting; I made the colors, etc., a little more vivid than true to life in terms of touch-up work because I knew I’d be running it through Nik Collection filters next and I wasn’t going for a true to life shot here. Step two, basically.

This is step 3, or after using Analog Efex to create antique camera filters (I usually like playing with the wet plate one but there’s an array of old camera types and filters you can use and adjust with it). It’s a little darker and more earth-toned, with a blurred and darkened vignette around the edges now. There’s one more step after this, which is also a Nik Collection filter set.

This is the final shot; blurred, darkened, with glowing and light effects, a little muddier yet and moodier. It lacks the jagged edges and sharp/harsh lighting of the previous one, and hopefully that gave it a creepier effect overall. It’s been run through several filters in the Color Efex set.

Overall I have to admit even the basic (totally automated and done by the camera’s computer with the only manual adjustment being the flash disabled- yes, I shot that with a 6 megapixel camera in auto mode and probably used autofocus too- things I don’t do anymore really) exposure unedited is a pretty nice shot of the river and rock face at Natural Bridge VA. And I think all of these stages could stand alone on their own pretty well, even if the initial touch-up is a little too untrue to life for my tastes. But this is basically a very abridged before and after set of shots. I’ll post a slideshow below so you can click/tap and scroll through them in order in the carousel view, then ramble a bit more.

But basically that’s a shot that I honestly overlooked and found while scrolling through my archive, before deciding it had a good set of compositional elements for turning into a kinda moody-gothy-witchy type of photo edit. Basically in Photoshop you get stuck with a set of sliders for these to globally (or if you’re more savvy than I usually am, locally) edit an image; the Witching Wood set’s been made using basically just global applications of the filters and a lot of tweaking things ranging from shadows and highlights to vignette size and shape, degree of blur, type of soft focus, and so on.

What you don’t see here is the time spent tailoring and selecting the filters and all the individual sliders that get adjusted from Camera RAW on through the two Nik Collection filters laid overtop each other; I’m not sure I’m willing to make a video of myself doing one of these in that much detail but I will admit I’ve gotten to where after I’ve come up with some sort of basic recipe I can get one done in a matter of minutes. Mostly that’s from years of playing and experimenting with the program and self-teaching myself uhhh…everything I know about it, to be honest. I do find the process a lot more fun than sometimes even shooting actual photographs for some reason, and I generally speaking run through each image individually and manually from start to beginning even if I’m using the same filter set to get the lighting and everything else where I want it (you can actually save “recipes” and just wash, rinse, and repeat in Photoshop and Lightroom I think, and while I’m using the same filters more or less for a themed gallery, I do tailor each filter’s numerous sliders individually- it kinda feels like I’m cheating if I don’t, and I’m able to make each image shine a lot more this way even if it takes a lot longer than a shortcut would take).

I am tempted to do some tutorials at some point but that really is dependent on me getting my butt off the computer and into the medical coding textbook that’s trying to make me legitimately lose my mind here. Hopefully I’ll have some new stuff done over the weekend. Anyway, just thought it’d be neat to share the editing process at least in part for one of the shots.

Beautiful Accident (Old Egret Shot)

This is an old favorite shot of mine, redone in Color Efex Pro (Nik Collection, as usual).

I totally did this by accident just now, it saved the filters from the shot I did before (which looked nothing like this one, had a snowy egret and a lot of green plant life) and I barely had to tweak a thing. It always feels like cheating when that happens, but sometimes a set of filters works really well together on a totally random unrelated shot. Sometimes that happens in Photoshop, a happy accident. Anyway enjoy the shot, dumb luck on my part but I think it’s gorgeous.

New Photos, Fatigue, Updates…

Hey, so long story short, I did post about a recent manic episode. The usual happened; they put me in a hospital for a while and I’m on new meds and as of today I’m almost too tired to function at all, not entirely from, but partially from, said medications.

So that’s gonna put a damper on new posting I have a feeling, or at least new photography. Today I’ve been awake three hours and I’m like probably barely awake enough to safely drive after a cup of coffee and half a pot of tea. What I’ve decided to do is just work on sorting out fatigue between now and when the pandemic is (sort of, for the West at least) over and enough of the population is vaccinated for a return to normality (if that’s ever coming back). I may well not take the camera out for a long while. What I will do instead is get through my archive backlog, and fill up the galleries. I’m debating setting up a smugmug site or etsy site for selling prints in the meantime as well; we’ll see what happens. I’m not super enthused to be setting the camera aside for a few months (I’ll probably be vaccinated sooner than most of the population thanks to pre-existing health conditions) but maybe it’s best if I get all my work to date uploaded, protected, and for sale somehow or other.

I have, as of yesterday, uploaded two new images (two versions of each, one for the Forest Photography gallery and one for The Elven Wood gallery of each); they’re in the gallery below.

I’m going to get back into writing which just makes more sense for social distancing (I’m hoping creative expression, done regularly like I used to, will help a bit with energy, but that’s not totally likely); I used to do a fair bit of essays, poetry, and short fiction (as well as the odd novel that wasn’t worth publishing) so maybe that sort of thing will start to show up on the other site before long.

Either way I’m suspending regular posting on both sites but things will be updated piecemeal. I’ll try and make a note after any major updates.

Other than that I’m hopefully going to be doing some healthcare education type stuff to break into that field and out of disability; prior to being disabled I was always more creatively productive when I had regular work and structure but what with fatigue who knows what’s happening. I do plan on getting a little more well rounded with photography via an intensive course somewhere down the road but I’m not sure when that’ll happen. For what it’s worth, it may amuse some of you to know I’m a natural light photographer in a bad way- I barely know how to use the flash (generally speaking, I don’t…ever). As a self-taught photographer, I am really rough around the edges even if some of my stuff is really good.

I’ll post updates as any of the above changes, or I feel I’m healthy enough to commit to regular posting once more.

Hope you have a good day however you’re doing, and I’ll try and visit your blogs as well in time I’m just really tanked out energy-wise today, it seems to get slowly worse with every passing today and it’s a new low today.

Weekly Update, 1/31/21

So far, most of what I’ve done and uploaded has been more of The Witching Wood. The most recent five, done today, are in the gallery below; it’s at 60 shots now, so view the gallery to see all of them if you’re curious.

I’m going to continue to add to it as I go along, but I also intend to get back into traditional photography and touchup work (like, say, a regular forest photography gallery expanded heavily).

Other than that, Imbolc is right around the corner on February 2nd if you celebrate that, so enjoy Brighid’s day (or enjoy Candlemas if you’re Christian and prefer to think of the Goddess as a saint).

Here’s the shots, and have a wonderful week.

A Little Mania and An Edit

So above is an art for art’s sake photo edit of RVA’s Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. Sorry, it’s downright gothic looking, but that’s my style. Analog Efex and Color Efex and camera RAW editor for the effects.

I had a manic episode about a week ago and just got out of the hospital but I am perfectly fine as of now.

I am debating throwing a single photo a few days a week so stay tuned if you’re interested in that. I cannot seem to keep to a posting schedule no matter how hard I try. Sorry, sorry. Anyway all’s well now.