I’ve been trying to do more abstract images as well as more black and white. After getting my coffee this morning I was driving though farm country and saw a fire in the parking lot of an Amish tourist site and pulled in.
I watched the dancing flames and then started taking photos, waiting for the decisive moment. A farmer came over and asked if he could help me. Usually I answer that with “Are you a Psychiatrist?” but I didn’t want to be rude.
I told him I was trying out a new camera rather than explain the concept of abstract photography to him and he just looked at me. “Kinda strange isn’t it,” I said. “Yes it is” was his reply and he walked away towards his children of the corn.
It might be art, but in this case it’s a photo of a sunflower that just opened up today. I used the crosshatch filter in Photoshop adjusting the stroke length, sharpness and strength.
There are dozens of filters to choose from, each with several different options and you can add other effects in literally thousands of different ways, maybe even hundreds of thousands.
People say that you can learn Photoshop in 50-100 hours, but it really takes years to get anywhere close to mastering it. It would probably be faster to learn to paint with oil on canvas, but it would definitely not be easier.
“The greatest risk to man is not that he aims too high and misses, but that he aims too low and hits.” Michaelangelo
Fun Fact: Excusado is a famous photograph by Edward Weston taken with a large-format camera in 1925. For two weeks Weston photographed and studied the toilet in his house near Mexico City from different angles.
It has been on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland and The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
When I was a kid I had a lemonade stand, but here in Lancaster County the Amish kids set up a stand selling horseshoes. I see them occasionally on the back roads but most of the time the shoes are just painted or rusty.
This entrepreneur goes a few steps further to attract the tourist crowd. He offers horseshoes with a picture for $3.50, with a flower for $2.00, plain for $1.50 or rusty for a buck. This one has a picture, it’s painted and has flowers so its a bargain at any price.
The pictures are mostly of horses but some have scenes like covered bridges or life on the farm. I can’t imagine where they get the images because they don’t have cameras, cell phones, computers or printers. I guess they cut them out of a secret magazine that only the Amish subscribe to.
These horseshoes may or may not be lucky for you, but with the thousands of tourists that crave unique souvenirs these kids can afford to buy a brand new scooter or whatever Amish kids spend their money on. I think the horses should get a cut but maybe they’re happy just to get a new pair of shoes.
Lightroom presets may not save you but they might be able to save you some time in post processing. Even if you don’t like the effect you can learn how it was created by looking at the applied settings, then just reset and start over.
The above photo is a RAW file converted using B&W Sombre Street, which is one in a set of twelve free presets called Street-Photography by Contrastly. Another set of presets I’ve found useful are offered by ON1.
Between the two there are ten free sets contain well over 150 different presets as well as free brushes for making local adjustments. Installing and removing them is as easy as shooting a bald eagle at the Conowingo Dam with a $12,000 600mm lens, maybe even easier.
All presets work with Adobe Lightroom 4, 5, 6, and CC. I downloaded mine a long time ago for Lightroom 3, so if you need that just do a quick search for older versions. Don’t forget to apply sharpening and noise reduction to your photos, they leave that up to you.
This photo is far from perfect but it took me ten seconds using the preset versus at least ten minutes to convert to black and white manually. Other than recovering some blown highlights you would never notice the difference at this size anyway.
Remember, you can’t save a bad photo; you can only convince yourself that it’s not a bad photo.
Note: Thomas is not in this facility to get clean and sober, he’s just having a bath. I feel it’s important to point this out for those who think that all trains come from the wrong side of the tracks.