Creating Orbs

Now that spring is just arriving in our area, it might be fun to use some of our favorite flower images and Photoshop to create orbs. First select one of your favorite flower/garden images and crop it into a square with the flower fairly centered.
orb_blog_wNext, convert the image to 8 bits. In Photoshop:  Image > Mode > 8bits

From the filter menu: Go to Distort > Polar Coordinates

When the Polar Coordinates dialogue appears, choose Polar Rectangular as the method, and click OK.

Next from the main Photoshop menu go to Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Vertical

Now go back to Filter Menu:  Go to Distort > Polar Coordinates

This time in the Polar Coordinates dialogue, select Rectangular to Polar as the method, and click ok.

Viola, you have an orb.  Play with different images until you get a feel for which images work best.

Equipment & Settings:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 100-400, F5.6
Gitzo Tripod, Really Right Stuff ball head

Smoky Mountain Photo Tour on the Flipside

Once again we had a great photo workshop in the Great Smoky Mountains. We were blessed with great sunrise/sunset, one of the best wildflower displays ever, and a beautiful foggy morning in Cades Cove.
105859_blog_wOur group was really excited about exploring abstract water images, so I’m sharing one of mine. The trick is learning to see these reflections in shaded areas of the stream. The stream should be in shade while the trees on the far side are still in the sun, thus providing the golden reflection seen in the water. The blue hues come from the sky reflecting in the water. We used longer telephoto lenses to isolate small areas of curling and undulating water patterns. A slow shutter speed is critical to getting the desired motion effect. We used the LCD on the back of the camera to review our results, then lengthen or shorten the exposure to get the desired motion. The best results were between ½ sec and 1/6th sec. depending on the speed of the water.

Equipment & Settings:
Gitzo Tripod
Really Right Stuff ballhead
Canon 5D Mark III camera
Canon 100-400 @ 400mm, F22
ISO 400
½ sec exposure

Hope you enjoy our artistic creations as much as we did.

Adam Jones

Smoky Mountains Photography Workshop

Well its time again to dust off our camera sensors for our annual Smokies spring workshop with good friend and co-leader Donna Eaton. Our workshop is April 17-21.  We like to arrive a few days early to scout locations. This time of year, we always bring plenty of clothing to cover weather extremes. Hats, gloves, and winter coats are often used at Clingmans Dome at sunrise and sunset. Of course we pack sturdy shoes for walking and hiking.
145269_2_blog_wWe visit our favorite streams, waterfalls, and cascades when the light is overcast or raining lightly. When there are scattered clouds or clearing storms we always head up to one of our favorite lookouts hoping for a spectacular interaction of light, clouds, and mountain vistas.

We use all our lenses into the photo shoot: from fisheye lenses for a worms-eye views of the forest, to 400-500mm lenses for wildlife and compressed mountain views. Since it will be spring, we’ll aim our cameras at abundant wildflowers, such as trillium, phlox, and phacelia often covering large areas near the Chimneys Picnic area.

Hope our paths cross in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains N.P.
Adam Jones

Combining Two Images in Photoshop

Soft Focus Technique_blog_w
This image was created last weekend at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA . The goal is to combine two images in Photoshop, creating a soft ethereal feel in the finished image. From a tripod-mounted camera, the first “normal” capture was made at F8 focused sharply on the white dogwood blossoms. The second “blurry” image was made after manually adjusting focus to render the entire scene very blurry. Tip:  shoot the blurry image with the lens wide open. Shooting wide open at 5.6 ensures the amount of blurriness you see in the viewfinder is what you actually record.  Both images are processed identically in Photoshop. Next open both images and drag the blurry image on top of the sharp image while holding down the shift key, and the edges of both images will align perfectly. Then reduce the opacity of the top blurry image until you achieve the desired effect. There is not a right amount here – just whatever you like.  Have fun experimenting this spring!  Flowers, trees, and plants are perfect subjects.

Equipment & Settings:
Canon 5D Mark  III
Canon 100-400 @ F8 and F 5.6
ISO 500