Looking through a metal cutout on a treehouse door at an intricately carved post

Looking through a metal cutout on a treehouse door at an intricately carved post

Do you ever take a photo of something and think, “Oh, that’s really, cool!” only to be sorely disappointed when you look at the image on the big screen later?  This happens to me more and more.

I attribute this phenomenon to a combination of 1) improving pickiness and 2) diminishing sight.  I see what the image looks like in my head.  I look at the relatively small screen on my camera or phone and think it looks pretty good.  Then, I get home, look at the same image on my much larger laptop screen with my reading glasses on and think, “Oh, no!”

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This is one of those lessons I learned and unlearned.  After getting home with too many photos where I had missed focus and didn’t realize it, I invested in a loupe that is contained in a rubber “plunger” that goes over the screen on my DSLR.  The loupe magnifies the image and the “plunger” part blocks the sun so I can see the image clearly.


I’d learned to use the loupe religiously.  While I don’t bother taking it with me when I’m shooting birds or other wildlife–by the time I figure out how the image looks, the subject is gone–I’d come to depend on it in most situations.

But shooting with the iPhone erased this lesson.  After all, am I seriously going to walk around with a loupe looking at my iPhone screen after every shot?  Suddenly, I found myself shooting with my DSLR much like I’d shoot with my iPhone–no tripod, casually grabbing shots, and loupe-less.

As a result, I visualized something really cool when I took this shot:

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But, when I looked at it with glasses on, I was sorely disappointed.

This made for a good time with the Aperture curves feature.  I still don’t have the shot I imagined, but I felt free to modify to my heart’s content since I didn’t like the image.  It’s fun to feel like a kid again.

While I wile away the time adjusting photos, Tisen takes cuddling in a blanket to new heights.  When we settle down for the evening, my husband and I each take our place on the sofa in front of the TV.

We sit down and Tisen stands on the floor and stares at us.  We call him up on the sofa and he blinks.  Then, when I pull the blankets out of the closet, as soon as I throw one over my husband, Tisen jumps up on the couch and immediately ducks his head under one edge.  Tonight, Tisen burrows his way under the blanket, up onto my husband’s lap and leaves only his tail end visible.

I cannot resist putting the Camera! app to the test.  Its flash feature allows you to turn the “flash” on so that it stays on while you frame the shot and shoot–really handy when trying to capture my ground-dog burrowing in the dark.

Tisen is in there somewhere--not sure how he's breathing though

Tisen is in there somewhere–not sure how he’s breathing though


Thrown a Curve

Getting crazy with the Aperture curves feature

Getting crazy with the Aperture curves feature

After playing with my Hipstamatic images for the past several days, I finally remembered that I’d taken a few shots with my DSLR the same weekend.  I pulled out the memory card and downloaded the photos.

I seem to have had some difficulty switching from the square frame of Hipstamatic back to the rectangular frame of the DSLR–there were many extraneous things in my DSLR images.

I thought about talking about how the DSLR images were technically better images than the Hipstamatic images, but really, they’re not from an execution point of view.  If you want to compare megapixels and talk about sharpness, well yes, they are.  But, that’s not better execution; that’s better equipment.

A more conservative adjustment

A more conservative adjustment

In any case, instead of trying to prove you can take technically better photos that still don’t look as appealing as what might be considered a flawed photo, I thought I’d try taking one image and doing a lot of different edits with it.  I chose a DSLR image because of the better resolution and because it’s in RAW, both of which help images stand up to more edits.

This is the Hipstamatic image that I spent about 30 seconds creating:



By comparison, this is the original image from my DSLR (no adjustments/edits):

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It’s not quite a fair comparison because of the differences in composition, but it’s the best I can do.

Now, what can you do with a not very exciting image of a treehouse?  Well, Hipstamatic has already done a lot of editing for me.  But I decided to push Aperture a bit to get a better idea of what kinds of things can be achieved in this relatively simple editing tool.

I don’t advise this exercise be started within 2 hours of bed time.  It’s addictive.

This is what happened when I started playing with the separate RGB channels in the curves feature

This is what happened when I started playing with the separate RGB channels in the curves feature

For most of the effects, I used only one adjustment:  curves.  I tweaked a bit in saturation, highlights, and levels.  But I literally spent an hour playing with dragging a curve around into crazy shapes just to see what would happen.

By the way, I didn’t sit down thinking “I think I’ll play with the curves feature tonight.”  This idea all started when I was adjusting an image and I accidentally pulled the curve too far in one direction.  The photo did something interesting and I liked it.

The curves feature is truly like coloring.  Maybe scribbling is more accurate.  Whatever it is, it’s fun.  I don’t often say that about photo editing.

Tisen cuddles Skunk on the sofa after a walk

Tisen cuddles Skunk on the sofa after a walk

Tisen has resurrected Skunk from the bottom of the toy bin lately.  This may be my doing–sometimes when he wants to take Big Dog or Squirrel on a walk (both of which trip him when he carries them), I make a quick substitution.  I think he had forgotten he had Skunk.  I like that the two of them together make a stripe pattern against a swirl pattern, but both in black and white.  Tisen seems to have discovered Skunk also makes a great pillow.