Ben's Photo Blog

Photos from my various adventures

Posts Tagged ‘Edits’

Out of the Darkness

Posted by Ben on April 5, 2010

This past Saturday, I had originally planned to go hiking with some friends.  Unfortunately, plans ended up falling through and we had to cancel the hike.  Instead, I decided to go for another drive through the back roads of Virginia.  This time I went north and east instead of south and west.  I did not do quite as good of a job of picking paved roads to drive on as I have in the past, but I had a good time.  As I was driving down state road 621, I passed by a small pond to the right of the road with an old mill building right beside the mill.  I didn’t notice the hole in the wall with the exposed gears until it was too late to stop.  Luckily, I was able to find a place a little ways down the road to pull in and turn around.  I found a grassy patch on the side of the road just barely big enough for me to pull off into and park.  You can clearly see where the old water wheel would have been.  I thought the gears inside the building were really cool, though I wasn’t able to get a picture that showed them in good detail without completely washing out the exterior, especially the rocks…or so I thought.

Later, when I made it back to the dorm, after some pretty rough roads up near Mountain Lake, I was playing around with this shot in Photoshop, looking at all of the “artistic” filters available.  As I was working my way through them, this one really stood out:

This is the “Bas Relief” filter.  While it is definitely a cool effect, what really caught my eye was that it picked up the smaller gear inside the building, as well as some of the woodwork back there.  It meant that it actually captured the smaller gear in the shot, you just couldn’t see it in the final version.  This gave me the idea to play with the “Shadows/Highlights” options for the original.  Sure enough, the recommended settings in Photoshop brought out that gear from the shadows.  The image definitely picks up somewhat of an unrealistic look to it, but I think it’s pretty cool.



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Posted by Ben on August 9, 2009


This is another picture from Switzerland, this time from Castello di Montebello in Bellinzona.  Our class that day was taken on a lawn inside the castle looking down over the rest of the city.  We then had a lot of time to explore the remains of the castle on our own.  This was taken from the base of one of the corner towers in the remaining fortifications.

I thought it would be neat to try to get a shot of the sun between the crenelations of the tower.  I like the way the shot turned out.  A step or two farther forward would have blocked out the sun and given me a nice silhouette of the top of the tower, but I like the effect of the sun shining through.  I did, unfortunately, get a bit of a lens flare, but it doesn’t look too bad, and I like the colors that it adds to the picture.  I also like the bright white clouds against the blue sky.

While I didn’t have any real complaints about the way this picture turned out, I thought I’d try my hand at editing it just a little to see what I could do.


I reduced the exposure a little, almost completely getting rid of the detail on the front of the tower, giving it that nice silhouette appearance.  I also bumped up the saturation on the picture, making the sky a little darker blue and making the colors of the lens flare a little more vibrant.  While I do like the way this came out, there’s something about it, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, that makes it look really unnatural.  It might just be the bright purple streak at the end of the flare.  I tried editing it out, but the tools on the online photoshop are not quite precise enough to get it looking right.

On an unrelated note, I ordered a new camera this weekend since my time with the Canon Rebel recently came to an end.  I ended up choosing the relatively new Canon Powershot SX 10 IS.  While it won’t take quite as good pictures as the Rebel, it has several advantages.  It has a really nifty LCD display that pulls out from the camera and rotates around, making it easier to get shots from weird angles.  It has a 20x optical zoom as opposed to 3x on the Rebel  (35 mm equivalent focal lengths of 28 to 560 mm as opposed to 18 to 55 mm on the Rebel).  It’s also several hundred dollars cheaper than the Rebel, which, as a college student, is a big deal.  I’m looking forward to playing around with it here at home and when I go back to school in a little over a week.


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A Small Reminder

Posted by Ben on August 6, 2009


This picture also comes from our last day in Riva San Vitale.  After our last lesson of the day, Jessica and I walked up the road a short way to the local cemetery.  As I mentioned from my narrative post from the trip, this cemetery was considerably different than your typical American one.  The plots in the cemetery, marked by fairly ornate and intricate stones and carvings often spanned over a hundred years and had many members of the same family.  I was especially touched by this one.  The expression on the face and the detail of the clothing are both amazing.  The figure itself was not very large, only a couple of inches tall.  The colors of the flower against the figure also stuck out at me and grabbed my attention.

I decided to play around with this image a little as well.


Luckily the Canon was powerful enough to let me crop the image down to this size and still maintain a good resolution.  You can make out a lot more detail in the figure here.  You can clearly see the strands of hair and the eyes that were so carefully made.  I also tweaked a few exposure settings slightly to give the figure more of a bronze color and to bring out the bright colors of the flower, which I think turned out pretty well.


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Garden Shadows

Posted by Ben on August 5, 2009


This shot comes from the garden outside Virginia Tech’s Villa Maderni in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland.  We had a little bit of free time on our last day there between breakfast and our morning lecture, so I decided to go out into the gardens to take some pictures.  This was taken from atop a small hill actually overlooking the main gardens.  You can make out a little bit of the Villa in the top left corner of the picture.  Thankfully, we had beautiful, sunny weather almost the entire time we stayed in Switzerland.

The colors in this picture came out wonderfully.  The leaves of the tree in the foreground (and I have no idea what kind it is) are a nice bright red and the other trees are a good shade of green.  The grass is a little faded, but not too bad.  I think the red tree in the foreground, and its trunk as well serve as a nice frame for the image and also provide some nice contrasting color to the predominant greens.  One of my favorite things about this picture is the shadows cast by the row of trees.  The fairly early morning sun gives them nice long shadows.  The perspective distorts the shadows somewhat as they don’t quite appear parallel here, at least in the center of the image.  I like that you can see the corner of the Villa on the left side and the church across the street on the right.  They do make the picture a little more crowded though.

I don’t have much experience with photo editing software, and all but one (can you figure out which it is?) of the pictures on my blog are in their original form.  Recently though, I’ve been experimenting with some of the tools on  It’s not nearly as powerful as the standalone version of photoshop, but is fun to play with.  Below is my modest attempt at “enhancing” this picture.  I’ve cropped it a little to add to the framing effect of the red tree and tweaked the colors slightly.  Let me know what you think.  I may try to do this more often, pairing an original shot with a slightly modified version.



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