Here’s look at Broadway in downtown Fargo from a few weeks ago. It’s a long exposure, of course.
Lately, I’ve been having a lot of photographic fun playing around with what I can do by “pushing” things on black and white photos. By “pushing,” I mean not worrying about keeping the image true to reality, but thinking more in terms of what (hopefully) interesting effects I can produce by making extreme changes to contrast, shadows, highlights, saturation/desaturation of different spectrum ranges, and the clarity tool. Here are examples of that technique. And here’s another.
Below is yet another example of this technique. I did the editing for this photo (and most, if not all, of the editing on the photos in the above-mentioned posts in Photoshop Lightroom.) Note a couple of things. You can click on it for a larger view. One is the blackness of the sky. The original image actually has a blue sky. But by fiddling with it, the sky blacked out nicely. But, what I like best about this photo are the patterns created by the reflections as well as the transparent effect that the reflections have on the look of the overall building. It looks like you can see into it. The original image is below so you can compare it to the final product. You can click on the original for a larger view as well. Fun stuff! If you enjoyed this image, you can see more of my pics here.
Here’s a really quick photo blog post. I snagged this image as the sun was setting Friday (05.10.13) in rural Cass County. That little birdie was nice enough to occupy that branch for me. Adds a little subtle detail. Click to see a larger version of this image. If you enjoy this image, feel free to check out more of my pics here.
Using tag words on your blog posts is a quick and easy way to “group” your posts and create links to those groups of posts.
“How?” you ask? I’ll use my own “Everything Else” blog as an example (that’s right … the one you’re looking at right now). Now, I love photography, and one of the things I do on my blog (besides create blog tutorials) is post photos that I’ve taken. Usually, when I post a photo/photos, I also like to include a link that says something like, “If you enjoyed these photos, feel free to check out more of my images here.” And if you click on the blue “check out more of my images here” part of that statement, it will take you to this URL: http://shane.areavoices.com/tag/shanepics/, which is a list or “stream” of photo posts that I’ve created.
Pretty cool, I think. And it’s super easy to do. Each time I write a post about my photography, I add the term “shanepics” to that post in the “tags” box. To do this, just enter the tag word you want to use and click the “Add” button. You can attach as may tag words as you want to a blog post. (see the image below)
Since my photo posts are all tagged with the “shanepics” tag, they’re all neatly organized into a “feed’ or “stream” or list at http://shane.areavoices.com/tag/shanepics. You can see that all my posts that are tagged “shanepics” are at this URL. All you need to do to make this link work for your own page is to replace “shane” with the name of your blog and replace “shanepics” with your own tag words.
Pretty cool, huh? That’s also the technique I used to create the “Shane’s pictures” link at the top of my blog (see the image below). If you want to know how to get a link like that in the menu at the top of your own blog, here’s a tutorial on “menus.”
And that’s not all you can do with the tag stream function. You can also create tag streams that use more than one tag word. For example, Let’s say I wanted a stream of all the blog posts I’ve created related to my photography or the music beat that I used to cover. The following address will link to posts that are tagged either shanepics” or “music”: http://shane.areavoices.com/tag/shanepics,music/ (Note the comma in between the tag words).
Or, suppose I want create a link that contains only blog posts that contain both black-and-white photos and landscape photos. I have a “bw” tag for my posts that contain the former and a “landscape” tag for my posts that contain the latter. I can include both of those words in the web address and insert a “+” sign between them (instead of a comma), and it will give me a “tag stream” that contains only posts that are tagged with both of those terms: http://shane.areavoices.com/tag/landscape+bw/.
Here is another example of a different approach I’m currently taking to processing some of my images. This high-contrast, stylized, black-and-white look isn’t right for every image, of course, but I think it works nicely for some. I took this image in Hammond, Wisc. Here are some other examples of this approach if you’d like to see more. And here is a link to a number of my photo posts of various types (and quality ).
Hot on the heels of my recent blog post about using the text widget, I bring you a little tutorial on how to add a little bling to your Areavoices blog with a “menu.”
Note: I’ll be using the default “Twenty Eleven” theme for this tutorial. Other themes will handle menus differently.
There are a couple of ways to create a menu across the top in “Twenty Eleven.” The simplest is to just create “Pages” in the pages menu. Under “Pages” select “Add New.” (See image below; click for a larger view.)
For each page you create, the system will place an item under the header. As you can see in the pic of our Extreme Weather Blog below, the system has added links to the “about” page and the “Submit your own photo or video” page (plus the standard “home” link).
But maybe you (like me) want to do more with your menu than just link to pages you’ve created. Maybe you want to link to The Forum’s updates page or something else. That’s pretty easy to do by creating a “menu.” Here’s how:
Start by selecting “Menus” under the “Appearance” heading. (See below).
Enter a name for the menu and click “Save Menu.” (see pic below)
Now you’re ready to start adding stuff to your menu. Enter links that you want to have appear in your menu in the “Custom Links” box and/or select pages you’ve created from the “Pages” box. (See below)
Once you’ve added some items, you can grab them and move them around to the order you want. (See below)
Click the “Save the Menu” button. Then go to the “Theme Locations” box and use the dropdown menu to select the menu you’ve created and click “Save.” (see below).
Upon initially reflecting on photography, it’s easy to think of it as a very realistic portrayal of reality. You see something, you fire your camera and you’ve got what you saw. But that notion isn’t as true as it first seems. Photography takes a three-dimensional world and compresses it into two dimensions while freezing a single moment out of a time continuum that is perceptually moving. Black-and-white photography takes it another step by simplifying a world of color into shades of gray. That’s a lot of distortion and we haven’t even gotten to dark room manipulation and Photoshop techniques.
That said, for whatever reason, I typically like for my photos to have a documentary framework. Perhaps it’s partially related to the fact that I’m a journalist by trade. We fancy ourselves people of fact, truth-tellers. Even if I’m capturing images that I’d consider more “artistic” as opposed to photojournalistic, I typically sort of like for my pictures to be grounded in reality. I like to work within something like traditional photographic boundaries and capture “what’s really there.”
But recently, I’ve thrown off those constraints a bit to play around with what you can do by manipulating different characteristics of black and white photos, such as contrast, highlights/shadows and color regions. I’ve also been pushing the clarity tool. I’ve included four examples of this approach below. Most if not all of the processing was done with Adobe Lightroom. Here we go (click on the images for a larger view.)…
We’ll start with the most recognizable icon in Fargo, the Fargo Theatre sign. The image is high contrast, with bright brights against hard darks.
This second photo is an image I took at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo in 2012. The effects really made the sky pop. Of course, it’s a long exposure taken at night. Actually, all of these images are taken at night.
Another very recognizable image from downtown Fargo, the Hotel Donaldson sign. Even after it converts the image to black and white, Lightroom still keeps all the color information, which allows you to control the character of the image, by changing how the colors are portrayed. One of the ways I blackened the sky in this image is by turning the blue saturation way down.
Finally, here’s a little image of a classic American dairy bar with a familiar name, the Tastee-Freez. This one’s actually across the river in Moorhead.
If you enjoyed these images, feel free to check out more of my photos.
The text widget is a really great tool for customizing your Areavoices blog because it can take HTML code. “Oh, goodie,” you say sarcastically, “I do love HTML.”
But HTML isn’t as complicated as it might initially seem. And, with just a few simple codes, you can get some nifty-looking stuff. For example, here’s a screenshot of an item on my own blog. (Click on the image for a larger view.)
The highlighted section was created with the “text” widget. Here’s how I did it. (Oh, quick note, different themes may allow different widgets so I don’t know that this is possible in all themes, but it works in the default “Twenty Eleven” theme).
First, you click on “Widget” in the “Appearance” menu. Then, drag the box labeled “text” over to the box labeled “main sidebar.” (See below – Click image for a larger view.)
The “About Shane” part is just the text I typed into the text box label. All the rest of it is created by entering text and HTML into the “text” area. Here’s the code for what you’re seeing:
- The picture of me and my family - “<img src=”http://shane.areavoices.com/files/2013/04/fam-little.jpg” alt=”Me and my crew”>”
- The intro paragraph is like this. No coding necessary - “Hi, I’m Shane Mercer. I’m the community content coordinator at The Forum, the daily newspaper in Fargo-Moorhead. Being the CCC sorta makes me the blog guy around here. Here are some facts about me:”
- This is the bullet list: ”<ul>” start the list. “<li>” marks each bullet point; “</ul>” closes the list. So here’s how it looks:
<li>I grew up in Tennessee
<li>I’m married to Amy; we have three kids
<li>I love BBQ (And I don’t mean mean Sloppy Joes)
<li>I play a Taylor guitar
<li>I shoot a Nikon camera
<li>My dad is a missionary to Peru…
- This is the link at the bottom - ”<a href=” means you’re inserting a link. Here’s the syntax for the link”Wanna <a href=”http://shane.areavoices.com/about-shane/”>know more</a>?”
And there’s tons more you can do with it. Links to favorite sites, photos of your cat, clickable thingies that can make that email box pop up!
Okay, so was that helpful or just really, really confusing? Maybe it sounds cool, but you don’t think you could ever pull it off. Don’t worry; we can do it! I’m here to help. Call me!
You can get more blog help here.
This is the place where I would put the explanation about what ties these photos all together – if I had such an explanation, which I don’t. But they are all photos that I like for really different reasons. Hey, maybe that’s their unifying characteristic! Full circle, baby!
Well, here we go…
1. I start out with a portrait of my own little boy, Will. Man, he’s cute. I think he takes after his dad
2. You know a few weeks ago when I kept posting images from that foggy morning (like here and here), and then I posted another photo and wrote: “Here’s a final photo from my little photo excursion Saturday morning in rural Clay County, Minn. (I say, “final,” but, you know, if I find another that I like enough, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll post it.).) Well, I did find another from that foggy morning, and here it is. The fog just made every single thing beautiful. It was like shooting fish in a barrel … just close your eyes, point the camera and it turns out pretty.
3. I took more liberties with this image than I typically do with a photo. Generally, I like for my photos to have a documentary aspect to them. But on this one, I just kind of cut loose with the post-process settings and went for an effect. I almost view it as an photo illustration or piece of graphic art. I mean, it’s sort of a caricature of the sign. Maybe not something I’d use in the newspaper, but might make a nice poster.
4. This is a scene form the back door stoop of an “adult” store that’s just south of The Forum. I pass it on my way to or from my car sometimes. It can get pretty grody back there.
Let me know what you think. If you like these images, feel free to check out more of my photographs here.
I like strange photos … you know, within reason. Lately I’ve been playing around with photographing window reflections. One of the things that makes it fun is that you get this weird blending of the objects reflected in the window with the scene behind the window. Here’s an example. Here’s another. And below is another, this one in black and white.
One thing that makes this one a little different is that (at least I think it was on this particular photo) I popped a flash/strobe through a window in the building and illuminated the inside more.
For those interested in the nerd numbers, here you go: Aperture=f/9; shutter speed=6 seconds; ISO200; fixed 35 mm Nikkor lens on my little, old Nikon D60; flash was an old Sunpak that I used to use with my FE2 (Don’t use it on my digital camera, but it works for stuff like this.) See more of my pics here.