Before and After

Like Ansel Adams, I enjoy transforming what the camera sees into what I see.

John Steiner is a "retired educator with interests in photography, aviation, technology, hiking and travelling." While I am not a retired educator and I don’t travel as often as I want to, I also have interests in photography,aviation and hiking. For this week’s Lens Artists Challenge, John has asked us to showcase some of our photographs "Before and After" they were post-processed.

For today’s challenge, please feature three or four images in your gallery that you tweaked for whatever reason as well as the original image straight out of the camera. The edits don’t have to be massive, maybe just cropping to remove unwanted items or reformatting the image size. Or perhaps you made significant edits to create what I like to call an altered reality where you removed or replaced components in the image, changed the color or tone, or otherwise created an entirely different look to the image.John Steiner

I had been to Ellis Island, twice, once with Shaan and once more with Kiran, chaperoning her 5th Grade class on a school trip in 2012. I was a "class Dad", a rare honour! We both learned a lot about early immigrants to the USA. It was not a pleasant experience for most immigrants. The experience was quite the opposite of the popular understanding of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, part of a poem "The New Colossus" written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus to raise funds for the statue. The short version is.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

The poem was written a year after the passage of the first Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese laborers from legally immigrating to the United States. In 1882 the Immigration Act was passed, which the Associated Press explains "required new arrivals to show they had the means to survive in what then was a nation without safety nets, a rule that has remained on the books ever since."

The poem is really meant for the disease free immigrant who had money for the boat ride, and and education and useable skills; those who would not become a burden on American society. The rest were either sent back or jump overboard and swam for the New Jersey shore. Some made, many did not.

Bhavna had never visited Ellis Island so in August of that same year I took a day off from work and planned the trip. The day started with rain but we hoped the weather in Jersey City would be better. But it rained the entire boat ride from Liberty State Park. Our tour included a stop at Liberty Island, but the heavy rain kept us on the boat.

On the boat ride back to Liberty State Park I looked back at the Statue Of Liberty. It was raining but the clouds parted just enough to let through a sliver of light. I fired off a few shots. The original shot is quite drab.

Statue Of Liberty in the rain. The sky is full of clouds. The clouds are moody and dark.
The Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New Jersey · 15 August 2012 · Nikon D40 · AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6

I imagined what it may have been for immigrants arriving in New Jersey from Europe after spending months at sea, crowded inside the cargo area or cabin of a ship. I wanted the image to have more drama and impact. I worked the sliders in Adobe Lightroom, focusing on the details of the falling rain. I created two virtual copies, adjusting the exposure +1 and -1 merging the three copies into a "fake" HDR image and changing the white balance to add more warmth to the image before a final crop.

Statue Of Liberty in the rain. The sky is full of clouds. The clouds are moody and dark.
The Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New Jersey · 15 August 2012 · Nikon D40 · AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G

The snow had been falling for about 30 minutes and I could see it was the kind of snow that would stick around for awhile. Salisbury Road had not yet seen a snow plough. An email from my employer that morning let staff know that the company would have a delayed opening. Oddly, despite the amount of snow that was falling the Montgomery Township School District didn’t announce a closing but kids had a delayed start to the school day. Straight out of the camera, this image is quite dull.

Not a Snow Day, Salisbury Road, Montgomery Township · 26 January 2011 · Nikon D40 · AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

I had thought of using black and white but after playing with the sliders in Adobe Lightroom I realised that I could do more. I created two virtual copies, adjusting the exposure +1 and -1 and merging the three copies into a "fake" HDR image. I then adjusted the sliders some more. The sticks set up to help the snow plough find the edges of the sidewalk were distracting so I spent a lot of time and effort removing them in Adobe Photoshop. I then cropped in.

Not a Snow Day, Salisbury Road, Montgomery Township · 26 January 2011 · Nikon D40 · AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

Photographing Warblers can be quite challenging. The small migratory birds like to stay high up in the trees. Even when they come down low, they tend to sit on a branch for the most fleeting of moments. This Cerulean Warbler was challenging to photograph. It always seemed to land in the thick of the leaves and stems. Of the dozen or more frames I captured, this is the best photograph of the set.

Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea) · 13 May 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

I found the branches above the head too distracting. After some minor edits and one subject masking edit in Adobe Lightroom to adjust the highlights and accentuate the blue, I pulled the image into Adobe Photoshop. The Generative AI tool has become my default tool for removing "distractions" from images. I used the new Generative AI tool to remove the distracting branches.

Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea) · 13 May 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR


Sunday, August 1, 2021

I discovered a new iPhone photography app called FIMO via the CameraGoCamera blog. FIMO is a vintage camera app that allows users to add retro filters to their pictures. FIMO tries to simulate the look of analogue film stock, including famous classics such as Kodachrome 64, Portra 160NC and Tri-X. Many apps mimic the look of analogue film stock, but FIMO has a few unique features.

The FIMO film simulations add scratches, dust, frame shakes, and other old defects one might find on an old film print. What's unique is how it simulates the process of loading and unloading a roll of film. There's a cool animation when you open the film door to swap out film rolls. Some of the films are free to, but others require an in-app purchase after shooting three frames. Rolls of film sell for about $0.99, although some rolls sell for $1.99.

I don't have any postcards to share. I was never into postcards. . I don't think it's a good idea to write personal thoughts on the back of a generic photograph that anyone in the post office can read. If someone were to send me a postcard (and no one I know send postcards to anyone), I would most likely look at it briefly before tossing it in the trash.

Bhavna wife thinks this is a negative way to look at postcards. She thinks postcards are a way of saying, "I'm in this lovely place and I thought of you". I don't see it this way. In any case, she neither sends nor keeps photographs either.

So for the challenge, I will share a single photograph that I think one might find on a postcard. This photograph has no meaning to me. I have to wonder why I even have it.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

I have also tried many film simulation recipes from Ritchie Roesch and Jamie Chance to create in-camera JPEGs. But recently, I have been skipping the JPEGs altogether as I prefer to work on the RAW image files. I may apply a film preset or profile in Adobe Lightroom, tweak the sliders to my liking or pull the image into Luminar AI. I am usually happier with the result.

Back Catalogue

Back Catalogue. What is old becomes anew!

Frank chose the phrase "back catalogue"1 for the weekly photo challenge. Frank, thank you for this!! Until my eye-sight returns to normal, I can’t drive, which means my photographic opportunities are limited to my home or to wherever I can safely walk. I submitted nothing for the last two challenges. My Adobe Lightroom Classic catalogue has two decades worth of digital photographs. I was sure I could find a picture to share “as is” or to re-interpret. The challenge with this challenge was deciding how far back in the catalogue to go, what to choose, and why?

After thirty minutes of skimming my catalogue, I chose this image of the Statue of Liberty from 15th August 2012. Bhavna, the kids and I took a day off in the middle of the week to visit Ellis Island. We had hoped to avoid the tourist crowds. We need not have feared, though, as it started to drizzle when we got to Liberty State Park, New Jersey. We were undeterred and toured Ellis Island, enjoying the indoor exhibits. We thought that maybe the rain would let up by the time we finished touring the facility so that we could visit the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, New Jersey.

But as we excited, it was still raining, and since none of us wanted to walk around in the rain, we waited for the return ferry to Liberty State Park. As our boat crossed the water, the sun attempted to force itself through the rain clouds. I pulled out my Nikon D40 and snapped this shot.

I used Google Colour EFX Pro to add some "grunge".

22 June 2013 – Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark – Nikon D5100 + 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18 mm @ 18mm, 20s at f/16, ISO 100 – DxO Silver Efex Pro 2

The second image is from a June 2013 field trip to Grand Central Terminal on Park Avenue at 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York. My friend and instructor, the Princeton based photographer Alan Kesselhaut , organised the field trip, obtaining tripod permits for the well-trodden Main Concourse so that we would not be chased away by transit police. At the time of our visit, Grand Central Terminal was celebrating 100 years of continuous operation, making this field trip significant. The window was darkened in certain spots to create the number "100".

Interesting side note, there is an Apple Store in the space at the top of the staircase just below the large window.

The image was originally a colour HDR photography. For this version of the picture, I applied one of the B&W presets from DxO Silver Efex Pro 2.

24 May 2013 – John Haines Hall, Princeton University – Nikon D5100 + 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 32 mm @ f/4.8, ISO 100

The third image is from the Spring of 2013. I was recently released from my employer of ten years and was a week away from starting as a consultant for a client in Trenton. I was bored at home, so I grabbed my camera and tripod and took a drive into Princeton on what was a fresh, crisp sunny day. I walked around Princeton University noticing that most of the co-eds had gone home for the summer break, but the campus still had some signs of life. It was late Spring, and many of the trees on campus were green with fresh young leaves. The ivy was crawling everywhere. The trees and the Ivy and the bicycles in front of John Haines Hall were full of bright colour.

I took several shots and combine then in Photomatix Pro for an HDR effect. I may have pushed things a bit too far with the saturation and vibrancy settings. I'm not sure what happened, but I can't find the original images from which I made the HDR.

  1. I have corrected Frank's spelling of the word catalogue.