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March ABF One Photo Focus

Here it is, March One Photo Focus with my image in the center of the attention. Please, go to Stacy’s blog Visual Venturing to see 24 amazing entries. It is very nice to see that most of them enjoyed editing this image, although some found it challenging… but I hope no one really had too much trouble.
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I took this picture on a beautiful Sunday morning, October 2006. I was visiting Salzburg and was just about to enter the lovely Mirabel gardens, a very beautiful place, when I spotted this cluster of tables in front of the cafe. The figure holding the plant captured my attention and I snapped it without much thought.
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I knew there would be some great, crazy edits of my image, so I kept it simple. Few basic things, touch of color and a bit of Focal Soften. I was there and I remember how beautiful the day was, so I tried to bring it back from the corners of my memory.

Again, I was the only one who flipped the image. 😀 I did it as an afterthought, I don’t think it improved or took away from the original. The thing I like the most is the autumn feel I brought with the colors.

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Hope you liked all of our versions and if you are interested in participating, you can find all the details on Stacy’s blog.

Have a fabulous weekend! ♥

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March #One Four Challenge – Week 1

I was thisclose to skip March. Well, not the entire month, that would be weird. Just One Four Challenge. My main reason was that I am swamped with work and it is hard to make my rounds and visit all the wonderful people who participate in this challenge. I strongly believe we need to support each other and besides,  I really like most of you. I said, most of you, so hold your horses. 😛

But here I am, Monday night and my fingers are itching. This blog became like an addiction to me, a habit impossible to kick. And I have a schedule. And you don’t mess with the schedule. So, here I am…again. I’ll give my best to visit all of the participants, but let me tell you something: I don’t keep score. I appreciate and enjoy each and every visit, like, comment, but I don’t believe you have to visit me just because I visited you. I just hope you enjoy your blogging experience.

Ok, enough of that… 🙂

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Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle) is a castle in Milan, northern Italy. It was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remains of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Extensively rebuilt by Luca Beltrami in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections.

I took this image last May, when I was visiting Milan. Fontana di Piazza Castello is a nice place to rest for a minute from the crowd and then you walk through the courtyard of Sforza Castle into Parco Sempione, beautiful large area where I spent hours walking with my dog. Italians are so friendly when dogs are concerned, I felt very welcome and comfortable and my Berta enjoyed being a center of attention.

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As you can see, my post-processing was minimal. Just a little bit of cropping, increasing saturation and tinkering with exposure. It seems I always start with minimal changes and go crazy after that. But I do remember that day and the sky was unbelievably blue, so I wanted to get it as close as possible.

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Be sure to check other wonderful participants by visiting Robyn’s blog Captivate Me or checking the tag “onefourchallenge” in your WP Reader.

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February #One Four Challenge – Finale

I just can’t believe how time flies. We are already at the end of February and another One Four Challenge is almost finished. Which means I need to choose a new photo for the month of March. As usual, I have no idea where to go.

At least I knew where I wanted to go for the last edit of this month’s image. I wanted to bring forward what was behind the gates, the bicycles and the plants.

I signed for 30 days Topaz free trial, but since I don’t have PS or LR, I had to access it through IrfanView. It all started promising and I edited the image using Topaz. The result was really great, I used one of the presets and then adjusted colors and exposure. It was all I was looking for. And then it crashed. And crashed. And it had something to do with the fact I own a 100 years old PC.

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The amount of swearing and shouting, frustration and disappointment is not really something I should share with you. 🙂 So, I gave up on that idea and went back to my old editing programs. I tried to recreate what I got in Topaz and came close. Honestly, I have no idea what I was doing, it was too many jumps between GIMP, PicMonkey and PixlrExpress.

I suspect many of you will be drawn to my Week 2 edit, but I like this one the most, because I worked hardest on it and I tried to stay as close to the original as I could. I just wish it was a more clear image, but I knew with the amount of cropping, I would lose that.

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So, that’s it for this month’s edition of One Four Challenge, hosted by Robyn at her blog Captivate Me. Be sure to check other wonderful participants by visiting her blog or checking the tag “onefourchallenge” in your WP Reader.

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Five Stories Through Five Days – Prague (Day III)

This is Day III of the challenge called Five Days of Black&White, where you are chosen by a fellow blogger to post black&white images five days in a row and every day you are to choose another fellow blogger to continue the challenge.

I was very humbled by the fact that I received two requests for this challenge, both from bloggers I admire and respect very much, Robyn from Captivate Me and Ben from Aperature64.

Ever in a pursuit to tell a different story, I decided to share not only the photos, but also little parts of my life, my little love stories.

Prague

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My love affair with Prague started 25 years ago, when I first visited this magical city. The City of Thousand Spires and countless intriguing stories about its history, it captured my heart from the start.

I would walk for hours, visiting every park, church, museum I could find. Or just sit near Karl’s Bridge, watching people walk by.

I have a special place that I visit every time, Královska zahrada (Royal Garden) in the Hradčany district. There is a bench with a lovely view of St. Vitus’s Cathedral and the Castle’s walls and bastions. It is always quiet there, secluded from the tourists. I sit on that bench, under the umbrage of ancient trees and collect all the little pieces of my soul that somehow got scatter around.

It’s been years since I last visited Prague. My beloved aunt lived and died in that beautiful city and it’s been forever marked by that loss.  But, maybe it is time for me to visit my secret spot and collect the pieces of my soul once more.

Today I nominate Priceless Joy from Beautiful Words and I am adding a twist to this challenge. Post five days in a row b&w or color images through which you will tell a story. It doesn’t matter what the story is, just that there is a story behind every image. It can be one sentence, a dribble from your life, a fiction, a poem, long, short, interconnected through all five days or every day a new story.

This is NOT a ‘have to’ and you can choose not to play along if you’d rather not or do it later if it doesn’t fit your current schedule.. it’s completely up to you.

If you choose to play along – you post a photo for five consecutive days from when you start and each day nominate another photographer to enter the challenge. Or you can add your own twist and let this challenge grow.

Tomorrow comes another image with another love story…hope you’ll enjoy it.

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February #One Four Challenge – Week 3

After last week’s soft and magical edit, I needed something completely different. I cropped it differently, flipped it, removed the color, replaced softness with this worn out, bleak look. It has a vintage look, like an old photo from your grandfathers photo album. It is funny how the gates look like a crochet my grandma used to make, they stand out against the washed out background.

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Most of the work was done in PicMonkey, the usual stuff – straightening the image, cropping, adjusting exposure and turning it into a black&white image. But the final touch of vintage was done through FotoSketcher, by turning it into a vintage photo and then merging it with the original.

I have no idea where to go from here and I know this week will fly by in a blink of an eye. I just hope my wheels of imagination start turning on time.

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As always, if you want to see other participant’s edits,just type in your Reader “onefourchallenge” tag and visit Robyn’s blog Captivate Me.

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Hidden Treasure

Friday is upon us and we are back to our regular ABF, where we edit our own images.

I have this passion for taking photos of strange things, like iron gates or street lamps, always looking around for some hidden treasure other people overlook. I found this little hidden gem in a park in Salzburg. The original looks so worn out, dirty and sad, that I had to play around and make it more like I remember it.
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Really minimal effort here, just a touch here and there, a little bit of adjusting the exposure and saturation, a little bit of healing and brushing that lamp, slapping some Orton on it and that was it. Everything was done with the help of PicMonkey, my trusted sidekick. 🙂

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Next week we are presenting our next One Photo Focus image for March, which happens to be my image. Be sure to check other participants in this craziness called AfterBeforeFriday on Stacy’s blog Visual Venturing.

So, that’s it on this week’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!

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February #One Four Challenge – Week 2

Here comes Week 2 of February One Four Challenge and by now most of you either participate or know about it. It is a very fun challenge where we process one image in four different ways over four weeks.

Couple of weeks ago I edited one of my old images for another challenge AfterBeforeFriday and in my wanderings I created something that could be used as a cover image for a children’s book. You can see that image on the right of this post, it is February’s Photo of the Month. For this week I decided to go the same, crazy road.

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Editing was very simple, a little bit of cropping and adjusting the angle, turning all the original yellow into lilac and as a final touch adding a space effect that gave me this magical “twinkle, twinkle little star” feeling. I used PixlrExpress and PicMonkey free online editing programs.

I should really write some crazy, fantasy adventure for kids and illustrate it with my own work. 😀

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As always, if you want to see other participant’s edits,just type in your Reader “onefourchallenge” tag and visit Robyn’s blog Captivate Me.

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February #One Four Challenge – Week 1

Here we are, at the beginning of a new month, which means we are at the beginning of the February One Four Challenge. Hosted by one and only Robyn from Captivate me, this challenge is about processing 1 image in 4 different ways over 4 weeks. Meaning every Monday you get to see something new from our kitchen.

Ever the lazy one, I picked out my February image this Sunday. And I think I picked out a great image to play with. By the week 3, I’ll probably think I was crazy, cause I’ll be out of ideas. Same happens every month, but I manage to pull it off, mostly because of your comments and suggestions.

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I took numerous photos of inner-court gates in Milan last year, most of them still waiting in my folder “Milan Gates”. I was planning to show them all, because there are so many amazing iron gates, but changed my mind. Since I hope I’ll go back there this May, I’ll try to take the same images, to see if I learned anything in the last year.

My editing choices were simple, cropped to get the symmetry, straightened it a bit, played with exposure and saturation and added the vignette to draw your eye to the middle of the image. The idea behind this edit was to get a feeling you were looking through the peephole into a secret passageway.

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I know this is a simple editing job, but I already have some interesting ideas. Looking forward to what future brings. (Hmmm, I wonder if there is a way to introduce the aliens into this image? 😛 )

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As always, if you want to see other participant’s edits,just type in your Reader “onefourchallenge” tag and visit Robyn’s blog Captivate Me.

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Fly Me To The Moon

I tried to contain my imagination last week and now this happened. I fear what would happen if I contained it for a longer period of time. 😛 I can’t help it, it seems my philosophy is if you are going in, go all the way.

When choosing an image for the ABF Forum, I browse through my folders in search of something that speaks to me. This week I stumbled upon this little discarded thing in my Salzburg folder. I visited Salzburg few times and really enjoyed my time there. There are so many interesting and wonderful things to photograph, so it makes me that more sad to see how I managed to take so many low quality images.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor this one I refuse to accept the blame, because it was taken at the twilight (I hesitate to use that word ever since those horrible books/movies 😛 ) and back then I had no idea what ISO was. Ok, I know it is my fault, but I was an ignorant fool. These days I am not ignorant, the other thing still lingers around.

Enough of my meaningless blubber, I know you are dying to find out how I achieved this spectacular after image.

I have the strangest working process, with no starting point or idea what to do. So, I imported the image into PicMonkey and fooled around for a bit, with no satisfying result. When that happens, I start clicking on random things, before all hope is lost. This time I clicked on the “Space” effect and kaboom! The idea of some crazy fantasy space exploration in a horse carriage came to my mind and the real work could finally start.

First thing – GIMP. I don’t like it, I don’t understand it. But that doesn’t mean I wont use it. Removing parts of the image worked great. After that, my darling PicMonkey took the center stage and we went on our usual ride. After I cropped the image, I dealt with the colors. Sliding the saturation bar to the max made the colors really shine, but messed with the sky, which  I managed to hide with the “Space” effect.

In the end I discovered how dense I am, again. I just figured it out, I can change the color of the vignette. Eureka! ( 🙄 ) So, I went for a purplishblue vignette and there it was. My final After.
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I don’t know about you, but I think this would be a perfect children’s’ book cover. Now, I just need to write it. 😛

Next Friday we are having another OnePhotoFocus, where all participants edit one and the same image. I know this info puts you on the edge of your seats, but be patient. In the meantime, you can always check my posts, regular schedule is Monday to Friday, weekends are reserved for my beauty sleep.

Now, go…check out all the fabulous peeps on Mrs.Fabulous blog Visual Venturing.

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Folds of Stone

Another Wednesday comes knocking on our doors, meaning it’s time for another Monochrome Madness. This week I went back several years, when I visited Salzburg. It is the fourth-largest city in Austria, internationally renowned for its baroque architecture, with one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. It is also the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Salzburg Cathedral is the seventeenth-century Baroque cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Salzburg , dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. Founded by Saint Rupert in 774 on the remnants of a Roman town, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1181 after a fire. In the seventeenth century, the cathedral was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style under Prince-Bishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau to its present appearance. Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which Mozart was baptized.

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In front of the Salzburg Cathedral is located the statue of the Apostle Paul holding a sword, sculpted in 1697. by Bernhard Michael Mandl. I am always impressed by the talent and the patience of the sculptors. I can’t imagine how difficult was to create those fabric folds and the beard in such a beautiful detail.

Please be so kind and visit Leanne Cole’s blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY. You will find many more beautiful monochrome entries there and all the necessary details if you are interested in joining this interesting challenge.