Tag Archives: Wien

27 – Before They Leave Us

I saw these leaves today in the morning, obviously newly torn by the wind from some tree nearby, and immediately liked the still fresh colors that nicely contrasted with the the dull gray of the pavement. I took them, arranged them to my liking and later, in Photoshop, tried to increase color variety and contrast in the leaves, while at the same time keeping the pavement dull.

This is really an application where Lab color mode shines. All parts of the leaves are yellow as opposed to blue, thus the “Blend if” slider for channel “b” in the blending options almost perfectly isolates the leaves. I still needed some detail work in the mask, but that was much less than I would have needed without blending options. Nice.

26 – Where Do the Children Play?

This is a playground on Spittelberg in Vienna’s 7th district. The sculpture in the foreground may be something by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, as it looks startlingly like his architecture.

It’s been quite a while that I needed so much time to prepare a photo in Photoshop. I had two (and maybe half) candidates for the IOTD. I decided to use this one, mostly because it was technically challenging. At first I tried to go for color, finally I settled with high-contrast B&W. The challenge was to come up with high contrast and rich tonality, keeping noise low and being true to the original atmosphere as I remember it.

25 – Under the Canopy

I admit, it gets tedious coming up with a good image a day, mostly because the days get shorter and when I am at work I have not much more than half an hour at noon.

In the morning, on my way to work, the light is quite good, but due to the angle of the sun it is almost only at the roofs. Not much good when you walk around with an ultra-wide angle lens. Well, I’ll switch to the Nikon 18-200 tomorrow and try my luck with the tele range.

In the evening I am mostly too late to catch any sun at all, maybe I should try for some night shots again. As soon as I find some time I’ll have an evening trip to Donaukanal, a canal that loops from the Danube right into the heart of the city and back out to the river. In past centuries it was used for transport of goods, now it is the departing place for tourist boats and overall a lively part of Vienna with many restaurants and cafés nearby.

This particular tree stands in Lenaugasse, just 100 meters from where I work. I was out there at noon and, though this is not much more than a quite acceptable shot, it at least meets the definition of what at the moment I call an “Image of the Day”: it is from today. Well, probably I’ll have to weaken the definition, but we will see.

Technically this is 10mm as always the last days. The were two high-contrast areas in the canopy that bothered me a bit, so I took them out by blending in a sky blue solid color layer sampled from the image itself. There is still a major hole in the canopy and for a short while I had contemplated surgery, but in the end I have decided against it. It would have been tedious and, all in all, I think there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a tree looking like a tree, is it?

24 – Concentration

Photographically (and only that) this was a lousy day. I had considered choosing an image from the archives, but, in reality, that’s not what this blog is all about, and I really do it only if there is no other choice. Quite uninspired I made some experiments and suddenly there was this: a globe of light dancing on a pattern of concentric rings, altogether vaguely reminding me of Saturn.

Or is it a spiral? Hey, it is, otherwise the parts of my kitchen lamp would immediately crush to the ground, wouldn’t they?

21 – A Jazzy/Gritt/Down-n-Dirty Motorcycle

This one is for Ted Byrne who generously sponsored the title, and for boneywhitefoot, who is a connoisseur when it comes to hot, old iron. Thanks, guys.

The image is from yesterday evening. Today, Friday, is my travel day and you can hardly expect a good image from me on Fridays.

Anyway. I came by this motorcycle while on my way home. I had taken a somewhat unusual route, and there it was in all its beauty. I had the Nikon 18-200 on the camera and didn’t want to change, so I made one lame exposure and went along. Seeing the image at home on screen made me weep – regardless of the cold I had to go out again, this time with the Sigma 10-20. I shot a series of about 10 images and went home, only to find out that I was an idiot: I had forgotten to remove a green plastic bottle under the front tyre, that ruined almost every shot. Thus I went out again. This image is from that third series.

20 – First Snow, No Cheating

November could not have come with more cruel precision. Yesterday rain, today snow. Tomorrow?

I have hardly treated this image in Photoshop. Honestly, I tried. For instance there is this cable. I really wanted it to finish in the corner. No problem, rotating and scaling the image up did the trick, but somehow it did not work for me. I felt like cheating.

Funny, isn’t it? I don’t feel that way when it comes to color correction, I have no problem cloning something out, I see Photoshop with all its possibilities as part of my workflow, but rotating to let a line finish in the corner should be not OK?

Maybe it is, because those lines have become something of a trademark for me, and because producing them in-camera is real work. It is hard to do it, it feels good after I’ve done it. In Photoshop it is so incredibly easy, but, of course, it gives no satisfaction at all.

In a way all this is against my firm conviction that art is the product, not the process, but convictions are one thing, feelings are another. Maybe there is not always a last word to be spoken …

What this is? It’s a windshield reflecting a house, with snowflakes on it, focused on the reflection.

18 – From the Garbage Can

Today at noon I went back to the park with the playground, mainly to get a perfect variant of an image I had already tried yesterday, and later at the way back to work I made some images of a red Ducati motorcycle, one of them quite good. After these about 30 minutes I was confident to have at least two or three good candidates, all of them in vivid colors.

I was wrong. In the evening, on my way home, I came by Gutenberggasse in Vienna’s 7th district. On the corner there was an open garbage can, one of the sort that are mounted on lamp posts. Normally they have a cover on top with only a small opening, but this one had the lid raised. I don’t know why, but somehow this attracted me, maybe because it looked different in a way. I put the camera on the garbage can, set the Sigma 10-20/4-5.6 to 10mm/f.8, held my breath and clicked. It took two exposures to get a sharp one.

According to the terminology of yesterday, this is again a (3), a weird perspective. What makes the image for me are the curves of the garbage can and its lid.

17 – Not in Color

I had three short sessions today, one on my way to work, one at noon in a park with attached playground and one on my way home. I think I’m getting the hang of this ultra-wide business now.

Basically you can use these lenses for three purposes:

  1. getting more into the frame
  2. gaining an extra foreground
  3. creating weird perspectives

(1) is the straight-forward and somewhat naïve approach, (2) is the orthodox way and (3) can be interesting, creative or plain rubbish, whatever applies.

“14 – Yesterday is Here” was (1), “15 – Morning on the Mountain” in a way was (2) and this is definitely (3)!

This is the first B&W image here. I shot the image on my way home, the sky was not yet fully dark, the street lights had this strong orange tinge, and although orange vs blue makes for nice color depth, the color version did not work. The orange was too muddy brown, the blue too dark, thus I decided for high contrast B&W.

Technically this is the image with Photoshop’s automatic white balance, a color mixer of mostly green and blue applied, a levels adjustment layer for darkening the midtones and two curves for modelling contrast. No masks involved. Sharpening at the end.

Of course one curves layer would have sufficed, but this is my way of working. I prefer small changes, one step after the other, sometimes going back and adapting one of the curves, sometimes toning the effect of a layer down with the opacity slider, sometimes using masks or blending options to restrict the effect to certain areas.

I had no tripod, thus I rested the camera on the railing directly behind the bicycle and hoped that I could hold it steady for 2.5 seconds. A side effect of the way I held the camera was, that I could not see through the viewfinder. It took me five or six exposures to get what I was up to, mostly because I wanted some lines to finish themselves exactly in the corners.

11 – Crossing Time

It was a drab day in Vienna. Normally this does not prevent me from taking photographs, though it probably makes finding motives a bit harder. Not so today. I had no time at all, thus here we go with one from the archives. This is a door in Seidengasse, in Vienna’s 7th district, that’s where I live.

The atmosphere is a perfect match for today’s overall feeling. I have taken the image on October, 5th. I used the Sigma 30/1.4 wide open. I really love this lens as it is a “standard lens” on the D200, and it forces me to try harder on composition. Many of the images I take with this lens have somewhat strange angles and strong lines that frequently originate in corners. Actually the style I have at the moment in general, even with the Nikon 18-200 zoom, is strongly influenced by my working style with this lens. The images of the day numbers 8 and 10 are good examples.

What fascinates me in this image is the combination of Art Déco ornaments and Christian connotation. In fact it looks like a cross looming large above me, but at the same time, with the face at the center, it has a strangely heathen aspect. Along with the angle this makes for a disturbing quality.