Adding a border to an image

Horse chestnut, monochrome, Autumn, Fall
  • Make a copy of the background layer “CTRL + J”
  • Image>Resize>Canvas Size
  • Set your border width & height preferences (2cm is a good starting point)
  • Ensure “Relative” is ticked
  • Make sure the”Anchor” window has 8 arrows pointing in all directions
  • Select your colour
  • Click “OK”
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Painting bananas

Painted banana, selective colour, fun, fruit, monochrome

Apparently, according to various internet sources I’ve read, selective colour images are one of the most hated photo editing techniques known to man. They’re tacky. They’re a cliche. They’re amateurish & not something “real” photographers would stoop to. Who cares! Rules are made to be broken & although I know posting this is probably going to polarize both my readers, people’s opinions are just that, opinions. So why not give it a go yourself?

This was a very simple shot to set up. However, I did give a little thought to the types of fruit I was going to include in the bowl. Knowing the majority of the image would be in black & white I wanted to include some texture, hence the avocado & kiwi. Even the citrus fruits were placed on top with the smoother skinned apples at the bottom.

Daytime low key photographs

My previous attempts at low key images had either been taken on a darkened theatre stage or, long after the sun had dipped below the horizon. Both situations providing an almost pitch black environment making it relatively easy for me to create the desired lighting effect. This time I was shooting around 1 o’clock on a bright summer’s day & so I needed to re-think my methods.

I selected ISO 100 & set the shutter speed to 1/200 which is my maximum flash sync speed. With the speedlight turned off (mounted on a stand & firing through a white flash umbrella), I took a shot with aperture f/11. However, the resulting image wasn’t completely black. I couldn’t increase my shutter speed to make the image darker because I was already at my maximum sync speed, so I would have to reduce the aperture size (f/16 did the trick). Now I could take shots knowing the only thing illuminating the object, in this case a cymbal, was the light from my flash.

Once I had the the image loaded onto my computer the only things to do were a black & white conversion, apply minimal sharpening & that was it. Well, that was going to be it but as I continued to play around with the image I discovered I really liked this pin hole camera style effect achieved by adding a vignette.

Week 36

Settings: Stock photo

Set up. I took two stock images from the internet & blended them together using the brush tool with varying degrees of opacity.

Opinion. My initial goal was to create an image for mental block. I thought a solid brick wall blended into the forehead would be a good representation. I’m not sure the final result is as effective as I’d like but it was good blending practise for me.

Week 31

Gasp, layers, photo manipulation, weird, cool, monochrome

Settings: f/5, 1/60 second, ISO 400, 39mm focal length

Set up. Camera on a tripod in front of my new favourite backdrop, the chalk wall! There are many tutorials & probably many different ways to accomplish this relatively simple result on the web. I used the video from Ticknor Photography (thanks Rob).

Opinion. This is actually my first ever selfie! So I thought it only fitting to create something a little different. More Photoshop skill than photography knowledge it was easy to do (with a little help from my new friend on You Tube of course).

Week 25

Low key double bass, monochrome, music, art

Settings: f/8, 1/200 second, ISO 100, 44mm focal length

Set up. Choose a reasonably sized, poorly lit room. Don’t worry too much about clutter in the background as hopefully this won’t appear in the final shot. In manual mode set a low ISO (100 is ideal) & the shutter speed to the maximum flash sync speed (in my case 1/200 second). Begin with a wide aperture & take a test shot (without the flash). The result should be a completely black image (if you use the histogram there should be just a couple of pixels pushed up against the far left edge). If not, narrow the aperture & try again. It goes without saying to shoot in RAW too (to help with adjustments later if needed).

Set the external flash to one side of the item being photographed & take a photo. If the background is being illuminated you can either, bring the subject further away from the backdrop or, move the flash closer to the subject but reduce the power so it doesn’t reach the background.

Opinion. I’ve always liked looking at other photographer’s low-key portraits. There’s something about the element of mystery in the parts of the image you can’t see that appeals to me. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good monochrome shot. So this was a fun little project. The time I spent messing with the flash settings & positioning though meant I was glad to be taking photos of an inanimate object as few people would have had the patience to stick with me! In the end I was quite happy with the results. As for post production work, a black & white conversion, a few touches of “burn” to darken certain areas & finally, a slight sharpen was all it took.

Week 23

Settings: f/2.8, 1/250 second, ISO 100, 50mm prime

Set up. Find a dandelion seedhead (you may need to remove some clutter to improve the composition).

Opinion. Inspired by a post about dandelions by Pear & Bulb last month, I wanted to attempt the black & white image they’d taken. I took it hand-held before converting the image to black & white in Elements. Finally, I added a slight vignette.