Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #9

From “The Arrival of Fall” by Lauren Springer in The Writer in the Garden by Jane Garmey:

“Autumn is a time when warm color and rustling sounds resonate throughout the plant world….

“The sun arcs lower in the sky, softening and burnishing the light. All colors seem to emanate an inner warmth as if the heat of the summer were stored within them. The most mundane scenes — an empty concrete basketball court alive with whirling, windblown leaves, a chocolate-brown field spiked with tawny corn stubble — take on the qualities of gold leaf, the light of a Venetian Renaissance painting.

“The lower sun also creates lovely lighting effects…. While in summer it would be suppertime before any similar effect might be possible, now mid- and late afternoon becomes a time for backlit drama. Grass panicles glisten and shimmer when touched by the slanted light; foliage reds and golds are intensified as the sun passes through them; fragile petals resemble halos given this autumnal spotlight.”

This is the ninth post in my autumn series of new photos. Seven previous posts showed images from my visits to Oakland Cemetery, and the galleries on this and the eighth post are from Grant Park.

The photos in this first gallery were taken along Cherokee Avenue. In the last four images, a bright mid-day sun had made its appearance, so these and the remaining photos in this post gave me another opportunity to play in the light, like I like to do, and learn more about dealing with brightly lit landscapes.

On the map of the park above, you can see Zoo Atlanta toward the bottom, and just above that a series of connected walking paths in the center. The photos in this next gallery are from that section. With the first three, the sun was behind me and created a lot of shadows in the scene, with additional shadow from a towering tree whose trunk you can see — especially in the first image — on the left. The orange/red maple at the center of the scene was barely visible (from this shaded point of view) yet its color was so nice I wanted to try and capture it anyway. Here’s what the first image looked like out of the camera:

By patiently manipulating shadows, whites, and highlights in Lightroom a bit at a time, I was able to make the hidden tree at the center the main subject of this image and the next two, and add some color to pop both the leaves on that tree and the carpet of leaves in the foreground.

With the remaining images in this gallery, the sun was facing me from behind the trees, creating nice glowing backlighting, adjusted in Lightroom to eliminate excessive highlights and retain detail and color. When viewing these in a slideshow, select “View Full Size” if you want to see the detail I was able to capture and keep.

I took the photos in this last gallery deeper into the park toward Zoo Atlanta. Here again the sun was nearly directly behind the trees (imagine it just outside the frame, to the left of each scene). Of all the photos from this year’s autumn projects, these were the most challenging to adjust in Lightroom, the challenge stemming from the high contrast between dark shadows and very bright backlighting.

I’ve experimented with different kinds of lighting with many of the photos in this series, but with these I had to take frequent breaks during post-processing because the high brightness and contrast would seem to create afterimages in my eyes as I made adjustments. How weird was that! Still, one of my goals was to work with lighting that was a bit extreme — even if I wasn’t successful — to see what I could come up with. I don’t know what technical “rules” photos like this might violate, but in the end I was reasonably satisfied with the results … so here they are! Once again, try viewing the photos at full size from the slideshow so you can see the level of detail I was able to capture and retain.

The trees in this last gallery above, especially with the backlighting, looked very much like they were decorated with Christmas lights. At least it seemed that way as I wandered among the leaves to get to a good vantage point. A fitting end to this series, I think, as we transition from autumn to winter and the holiday season. Stay tuned for photos of shiny objects and glittery whatnots!

My earlier autumn 2019 photo mash-ups, and a few other posts with new fall color photos, are here:

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #1

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #2

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #3

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #4

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #5

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #6

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #7

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #8

Four Small Signs of Early Fall

More Small Signs of Early Fall

Even More Small Signs of Early Fall

Autumn Tints at Twilight

Burnt Orange and Singed Pumpkin

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

2 Comments

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #8

From “The Arrival of Fall” by Lauren Springer, in The Writer in the Garden by Jane Garmey:

“Autumn is a time when warm color and rustling sounds resonate throughout the plant world….

“In the deciduous woodlands of the East and Midwest, winter spreads down the land from north to south, from highland to lowland, rolling a carpet of foliage color over the landscape before it. The land, so serenely green for all those months, suddenly looks like an infrared photograph….

“On the grasslands of the prairie and plains, the tired gray-green and buff of late summer take on richer amber, sienna and rust tones as the foliage and seedheads of the grasses ripen. Late-blooming wildflowers, predominantly deep golds and purples, attract sleepy butterflies and bees, while more energetic birds frenetically gorge themselves on seeds before the first snow cover blankets the land.”

This is the eighth post in my autumn series of new photos. The previous seven posts showed images from my visits to Oakland Cemetery, and the galleries on this post (and one more, to follow shortly) are from Grant Park. The park is a 131-acre woodland, established in Atlanta in 1883, near the center of the neighborhood by the same name and a short walk from my home.

I took all the photos in these galleries on the last weekday in November, substituting Black Friday for an Orange-Red-Yellow Friday, shortly before the neighborhood trees shed most of their leaves during three days of high winds. This first gallery includes photos from the north side of the park; on the map above, that’s the corner at the top where Sydney Street and Park Avenue meet, near one of the park’s entrances. The homes slightly-visible over the hill and through the trees (in the first four photos) are on Sydney Street; and the roadway showing in the third, fourth, and hidden in the fifth image leads, all mysterious-like, deeper into a park section darkened by massive elm and oak trees (collectively referred to (by some people) as “elk trees“). I composed most of these images to include the street lamps along the roadway, to help emphasize the height of the trees by comparison. The street lamps, I estimate, are 10 to 12 feet tall; the surrounding trees, therefore, are very very much taller.

I took this series in the section that runs along Cherokee Avenue; on the left side of the map, you can see where Cherokee traces the entire east side of the park. Orange and red leaves were still abundant, even as you can see there’s a thick ground-cover of those already shed.

Further along the Cherokee Avenue side of the park, near an entrance at Georgia Avenue, I found these bright yellow surprises. Most trees with yellow leaves, having turned several weeks earlier, were bare by the end of November, but the one in the first three images “stole the show” framed as it was near the entrance. The last three images show a different tree nearby; still turning from green to orange and yellow.

Since we’re approaching the Christmas holiday, I imagine you’ve probably been wondering where Christmas gnomes come from. I know I have.

Mystery solved. I found this gnome nursery at the bottom of a hill underneath a giant pine tree, where pointy gnome heads were starting to emerge from this thick bed of pine needles. One baby gnome did pop out and scurry up the trunk of a tree; I got a shot but then I accidentally deleted it during post-processing. Sorry about that; you’ll just have to trust me. 🙂

My previous autumn 2019 photo mash-ups, and a few other posts with new fall color photos, are here:

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #1

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #2

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #3

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #4

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #5

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #6

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #7

Four Small Signs of Early Fall

More Small Signs of Early Fall

Even More Small Signs of Early Fall

Autumn Tints at Twilight

Burnt Orange and Singed Pumpkin

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

3 Comments

Before and After: Bradford Pear, Blooming in Black and White

From Black & White Photography: The Timeless Art of Monochrome by Michael Freeman:

At the risk of oversimplifying, subtracting colour from imagery allows the other graphic elements and dynamics to increase in importance….

Colour is so integral to our experience of the world, and of imagery, that most people (and most photographers) do not separate it in their mind’s eye from everything else that is going on. In order to understand what happens when we take it away and work in monochrome, we need to know how it fits in to the total range of image qualities; also, how it differs from the other elements in its effect. [Colour] elicits subjective and emotional responses in a way that other image qualities do not…. The subjective response to colour is powerful and pervasive, and as a result, takes over viewer response to many photographs. If the colour component in an image is strong, rich, unusual, or simply noticeable, there is a good chance that it will swamp the attention….

And because colour triggers emotional responses, there is also usually an unquestioned assumption that it works on a scale of beauty, or at least attractiveness. To say “what a spectacular sunset”, or “look at how blue the water is”, or “that gray really sets off the pink”, or any of the many other common value judgments on colour, is to acknowledge that the effect of colour can be likeable — and for most people should be likeable. This gut reaction to colour is by far the most common, and in this way it stands apart from the other formal graphic elements….

There are a number of ways of subdividing the graphic components of an image, but the most generally accepted are: point, line, shape, texture, and colour. In the way that these are used and interact, there is contrast, balance, and dynamics (or vectors). Subtracting colour enhances those remaining. In practice, this means that the components and qualities most affected are the graphic ones of shape, the graphic structure of the image, and the gradation along the gray tonal scale, as well as the three-dimensional ones of volume and texture.

One Wordless Wednesday back in January, I processed and posted a series of color photos of a vintage camera; then a couple of days later, converted the images to black and white and wrote about the workflow I used. That was my first attempt at color to black-and-white conversion with Lightroom or the Nik Collection, and it was fairly easy to get the results I wanted since the color images leaned toward monochrome and the primary subject was mostly black and silver.

After posting some photos of a Bradford Pear blooming in front of my house on last week’s Wordless Wednesday, I wondered how those multi-colored images would look if I turned them into black-and-white. The budding blooms are a key image element and they vary from light green to bright white, depending on how much the blooms had opened. I wanted to see if I could create black-and-white versions that emphasized the opening blossoms, reducing — but not eliminating — background elements that provided additional context (spring!) to the images. My goal was to elevate the quality of the photos by making the blooms, regardless of whether they were opened or not, “pop” out of the image in shiny bright white.

All of my adjustments to create these images were completed in Lightroom; this time, I didn’t use any Nik Collection filters at all. I’ve been trying to better understand where the two tools overlap, when to choose one over the other, and when to use both. For these images, I converted to black and white in Lightroom — which created the flat-looking versions you can see in the middle column of the second gallery below — then made basic image adjustments (to exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks) to emphasize the blossoms and fade the backgrounds. I then worked through the individual color channels in Lightroom’s Black and White Mix panel to balance the blacks, grays, and whites in each image, mostly by adjusting green, yellow, and red channels to create that balance.

I also applied quite a bit of sharpening to the images, which, surprisingly, didn’t create any apparent distortion but helped bring out the textures, patterns, and highlights of the individual blooms — probably because the sharpening tool mainly had whites and light grays to work with. As a final step I experimented with split-toning — a Lightroom tool I haven’t used very much but want to learn more about. For these photos, I used split-toning to shift gray in the shadows from a warm to slightly cooler color, which provided the silver-white brightness I was looking for when I started this workflow.

Select the first image to view larger versions; then, if you are interested, take a look at the second gallery showing the transitions.

Below are three steps in the transition of these photos from color to black and white. The first column shows the processed color image from my original blog post; the second column shows the color image after conversion to black and white but with no other adjustments; and the last column shows the final version, with adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites and blacks, the individual color channels, sharpening, and split-toning.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

6 Comments