So my Arcanum Sphere 2 cohort has become obsessed with (or possessed by) this fun twirl technique in Photoshop. I finally got around to joining in the fun today. I wanted to pick something both colorful and spiritual, so I chose this photo from the Tibetan sand mandala process I witnessed in the spring. I followed the examples from Alicia D’Amico’s twirling tutorial (see the end of the post for the video).
After doing the basic work of the tutorial, I played with some lighting, saturation, and contrast issues in Viveza by NiK Software and then made some color adjustments in Lightroom.
The resulting pattern reminds me of both a lotus flower and the acorn. Additionally, the sweeping lines of color from the corners reminded me of the process of mandala destruction as the monks brush the sand towards the center of the image.
After playing with the saturation slider, I also wanted to try a monochrome image. I decided to do a split-tone version of the same image in MacPhun’s Tonality Pro. This gave me a totally different feeling, with more appreciation for the lines, structure, and appearance of light and shadow in the image.
On our first trip in the camper to Edisto Beach, SC, Michelle mentioned going to Botany Bay Plantation. I knew I had heard that name somewhere before, and I kept racking my brain to figure it out. Turns out, that SS Botany Bay is the name of Kahn’s ship in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (and later in Star Trek: Into Darkness). Of course that name came from the original Botany Bay in Australia, which was a penal colony. After discovering the geeky nature of my recollection, I repeatedly quoted this line from Pavel Chekov when he discovers the identity of the mysterious marooned ship.
When Michelle showed me pictures of the old trees on the beach, I couldn’t wait to get there to capture the sunrise. Of course, the weather didn’t cooperate very well … or maybe it did. A dense layer of fog blanketed the sun. This gave a certain mystical and lonely quality to the shots that I had not anticipated, but that I thoroughly enjoyed. The fog was like a giant softbox, giving even lighting over the trees and lightly shrouding the other objects in a distance. This really helped me isolate my subjects and also gave me an interesting canvas in the background to use various processing techniques and textures. I processed all of the following shots with a combination of MacPhun’s Tonality Pro and Karen Hutton‘s and Tanya Wallis’ forthcoming texture pack.
We have several more images from the Botany Bay Plantation shoot on the way, but I am grouping them in different blog posts. The area has so many types of landscapes: bogs, marshes, ponds, streams, dense forest, farmland, and beaches. It really was a great place to practice a variety of landscape and nature shots.
This was one of my telephoto images with the a6000. I used a basic black and white conversion in Tonality Pro and added the Bursty Blur texture from the texture pack. Print Available.
i had some fun with the wide angle distortion on this one! I liked the effect that the Sandy Cool texture had on it. It seemed to fit the beach theme. Print Available.
I went for a Ceti Alpha 5 look to this one, with the reddish goodness. To add texture, I used “Face it – Scratched” from the texture pack. Print Available.
Since I saw the name “Alien Skin Burn” in the texture pack, I’ve always wanted to use it. It seemed to fit the mood of this photo well. Print Available.
After the split tone processing in Tonality Pro, I added the “Cold Skin” texture to this photo. It enhanced the blue tones and added a cool vignette. Print Available.
One of my favorite split-tone presets in Tonality Pro is “Blue Morning.” Split-toning involves taking a black and white image and adding two different tints to the shadows and the highlights. In this case, the shadows get a blue tint, and the highlights get a golden tint. I decided not to use a texture on this one because I liked the contrast between the textured ocean and the smooth sky. Print Available.
Maybe it’s because I was born in Arizona or spent half of my childhood in El Paso. Or maybe it’s because I spent the other half of my childhood imagining I was Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. Whatever the case, I love desolate desert landscapes. We spent half of our Thanksgiving holiday in a desolate landscape photographer’s dreamland: Joshua Tree National Park. And, yes, we listened to U2 on our way there. As one friend told me, that’s not cliché. It’s classic. Here are some of our favorite images from our first day at the park. We focused the first part of our visit on the Joshua trees and the rock formations. We’ll post some images later in the week of the Cholla Cactus Garden and the Cottonwood Oasis.
This seemed like a wise old Joshua Tree. I had fun combining different effects from various plugins for a more artistic approach. Print Available.
We got a little starburst happy on this trip. Michelle caught this great one in the middle of a well developed Joshua Tree. We had fun processing this as a split tone in MacPhun‘s Tonality Pro. Print Available.
Speaking of starbursts, it’s not all about the trees at Joshua Tree. There’s lots of rocky fun, too! I liked how the solar flare worked into the green spots on this one.
Michelle loves to photograph textures and shapes, and this shot definitely demonstrates that. Again, we used MacPhun’s Tonality Pro for some purply monochrome action on this one. Print available.
Michelle also has a thing for paths. Apparently when the Joshua Trees get too top-heavy, they fall over in the desert wind. In fact, the famous Joshua Tree from the U2 album cover fell down in 2000. We had some fun with textures and sepia in MacPun on this one.
The landscapes at the Joshua Tree National Park are so diverse. I loved having the chance here to get a Joshua Tree with the mountains in the background. Coming soon: the Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood Oasis.