One Four Challenge – July Week 1

Lake Las Vegas July 3, 2015 1/30 sec, f/22 at 6400 ISO 18mm

Lake Las Vegas
July 3, 2015
1/30 sec, f/22 at 6400 ISO

So, Robyn at Captivate Me has this challenge. The first Sunday of each month starts it anew. You take one of your own photos and, each week, process it differently so that on the fourth week you end up with four different versions. Take a look at all the submissions and join in! Sometimes it’s fun, sometime’s it’s not. Just like life!

The above image was shot at Lake Las Vegas, a luxurious  destination that only lasted about 5 years until the banking debacle and subsequent real estate crash. Now the place is pretty much deserted. The casino and most shops have closed down. This hotel has somehow remained open but is under new ownership.

Taken just at sunset, there was no direct sunlight and I had to fake a few highlights on the building and in the water. The sky was pretty clear at this angle but the clouds you see were taken from another angle that same night and dropped into the sky. I then had to add a red/orange cast to the buildings and water to match the sky. Because it was shot at ISO 6400 there is a lot of noise and I had to adjust Luminance Smoothing in Lightroom to +75.  My transformation:

July One Four Challenge Week 1

July One Four Challenge
Week 1

Please feel free to click on the image above for a larger, more detailed, version. But I guarantee the noise will be very obvious!

July One Photo Focus


Original image courtesy of Robin Kent

Stacy Fischer of Visual Venturing has a challenge that occurs the first Friday of each month. It is called One Photo Focus wherein any one who wants to join in has to work on the same photo as everyone else and see what they come up with. This month the photo has been submitted by Robin Kent of photographybykent. Please consider joining in next month. Just mention it to Stacy in comments on her site and she’ll get you next month’s photo as soon as it is available.

I have an admission for this month’s One Photo Focus. I cheated! Robin, I have the utmost respect for you and your talent. But when I saw this image of yours I came up blank. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. I decided to sleep on it and the next morning woke up with nothing but a terrible taste in my mouth and a need to visit the bathroom.

Yes, I had been drinking the night before!

As for the cheating, I reverted to using a preset in Perfect Effects 9.5.

Yes, I did.

But you know what? It’s so much better than what I could have come up with on my own. Usually, when I use a preset, I will play with it, use it as a starting point until the processing is basically my own and not some stranger’s. Well, that’s what I did here so I don’t really feel too bad about the cheating thing. I still worked just as hard on your image as I have on any of mine so please don’t feel short-changed! And even though it is the Fourth of July weekend, I did not revert to fireworks!

The reveal:

Final Image

OK, so what I did was avoided Lightroom entirely and exported the RAW image directly into Perfect Effects 9.5 I found a preset- after playing with at least 2 dozen- in a sub folder labeled Hipster called “Straight To Heck”, which looked like this:

Straight To Heck

Straight To Heck

This preset was made up of seven layers including the original. So what I did was start from the bottom with the original



and added the second layer, which was a slight Blur:

Layer 2

Layer 2

Layer three added a split tone of yellow for the highlights and orange/red for the shadows:

Layer 3

Layer 3

The fourth layer was a Texture that, if you enlarge the image, you might be able to see. It appears to be some kind of dark screen with very fine lines throughout:

Layer 4

Layer 4

Layer five is the same as a Radial Filter in Lightroom that throws the sides out of focus:

Layer 5

Layer 5

Layer six was a light leak on the lower left and Layer seven was a dark Vignette all around the image- both of which I deleted.  I added a new layer from the Borders subfolder called “35 Contact Sheet”:

Layer 6

Layer 6

Finally I exported into Lightroom to remove the people on the lawn that were still visible and darkened the overall image slightly. And that was that:

Final Image

Final Image

Stacy’s Visual Venturing is more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

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Take Me Away!

Zion in Autumn

Zion in Autumn

I can honestly say that, right now, I’d rather be here. Zion in Autumn. This photo was taken sometime before marriage and I just found it floating across my computer screen as a screen saver. It was taken with a Canon Power Shot A590. It’s as good as anything I’ve taken lately and was processed with a free app. I vaguely remember something called This was way before picmonkey. Maybe even before Lightroom!

Sunday Spont – Rancho Chloride


(Please click on the image to see a much bigger version. OK, maybe only a little bigger. But it IS better. I promise!)

So this was one of our Sunday spont trips. But it might have been a Saturday instead of a Sunday. And it might not have been totally spont. Spontaneous. My wife Lynn always has wanted to visit Chloride AZ ever since we first passed it going to Sedona AZ, one of my favorite places in the whole world! (True, I have not raveled all over the whole world but, when I do, I am positive Sedona will still be in the top ten! Anyway….)

There is nothing much in Chloride, which used to be a mining town. We read that there are about 250 residents still living there, which does not qualify it as a ghost town. But we did manage to get a few photos out of the trip. Good in my opinion, at least.  This is one of them.

Oh, and the clouds? All real!

Why I do What I do!

Most have been accepting, some have even been complimentary, of my need to enhance these clear blue skies of the southwest. My wife has recently taken the credit for opening up my eyes, helping me to see the beauty of a cloud littered sky. To keep the peace I have deleted any images of such skies prior to our having met and married.

Gotta keep the peace.

As for a visual presentation of why I do what I do, below is a shot of a mountain top in Zion National Park during golden hour one fine late autumn afternoon.


Below is how I saw it!


‘Nuff said?

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 Over on Facebook, Terri  Buckner says of someone else’s work (not mine) that “…I generally don’t like heavily photoshopped shots. For me, photography is a documentary art and too much editing overshadows the reality.”  Well, we would have to first argue her terms and I doubt I have the intellectual prowess to do so. But in their own ways, didn’t cinematography and even painting begin as documentary arts? Did they not evolve into  fine arts? Did Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, ever worry about overshadowing the reality? For that matter, did Adams, Cartier-Bresson, Arbus, ever get into the darkroom and simply develop their images without dodging and or burning? Maybe Ben or Joe or Cybele can argue these points one way or the other better than me.

My head is hurting now. 

One Four Challenge – June Week 4

Original Bus

Original Bus

After my confession that I was bored with this image, many commented that I was a wuss. OK, not really. But they did suggest I step out of my comfort zone occasionally, try something creative rather than recycle old presets or filters.Yes, they really did say that! And me? I took it to heart! Sort of. There is as much difference as possible in this week’s processing, I think, as Lightroom will allow as I have not yet delved into Photoshop, which I have acquired as part of the Lightroom CC package. Heck, I haven’t even looked at the intro to the Cloud.

Allow me to show you a brief retrospective of the month of June. To date:

So, without further ado:

Week 4-4

Week 4

I can hear you all clamoring to know what I have done. Well, hell if I know. Actually, I do but it didn’t quite turn out as I had expected. I wanted to create a dream-like image, those hot, lazy days of summer. There are four gradiant filters used rather than a split tone. They are orange, purple, blue, and then one of green. They all seem to effect different ares of the image differently. Then there is a brush throughout to throw a haze over areas. In the original image there was only a dirt field beyond the trees. I colored a section blue to mimic a lake or pond where the school kids are traveling to. I then cropped at a ration of 2.35 to 1, which is the ratio used for movies shot in Cinemascope!

As always, the One Four Challenge is hosted by Robyn of Captivate Me. Please stop by to see the rules if you want to join in, and to view all the other fun submissions. That is, assuming you found any fun in mine,