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Just a Little Bit!

It’s Friday! And among many good things that Fridays usually bring, one is the AfterBeforeFriday Forum, hosted by our dear Stacy Fischer on her blog Visual Venturing.

I promised myself I’d be good this week, trying to keep my imagination in my little box. I  wanted to show that I can take images that don’t need a heavy hand in post-processing.

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No cropping, imagine that! I really took my time to take this photo, trying to get the symmetry. But me being me, I forgot to bring down the ISO, so it turned out too bright. I slightly adjusted brightness and contrast, just to make it a little bit sharper. And that was all. You see, miracles do happen.

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P.S. I just couldn’t resist, so I created another after, with a little sparkle of drama. I cropped the original ever so slightly, to make it more tight and then I went wild. Just a little bit. o_O

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The image was taken last May in Milan, Italy. If you didn’t guess already, it is the famous Duomo di Milano, the fifth largest cathedral in the world and the largest in Italy.

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That’s it for this week, enjoy your weekend.

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Only Window Shopping

This lovely display caught my eye last spring when I was visiting my family in Milan, Italy. My cousin and I were out and about, me snapping with my camera, he glued to his smart phone.

Then I spotted them…my two loves…shoes and chocolate, hand in hand! How dare they provoke me like that? It was so hard to peel myself from there, but I managed somehow.

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The image looks lovely in color, but this b&w version has a wonderful vintage look. For some reason it reminds me of Roman Holiday, although I am a far cry from Audrey Hepburn. But I do have a new haircut. 🙂

My image is a part of Monochrome Madness Challenge, hosted by Leanne on her blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY. If you want to join us in our weekly fun, you’ll find all the necessary details there too.

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December #One Four Challenge – Step III

Hello, you wonderful people. Just one more week and the Christmas will be at our doorstep. A well-deserved break from all the stress and craziness.

Week 3 in December One Four Challenge feels like a half-step towards Week 4. I wanted to achieve an old, vintage look, a departure from the festive and vibrant colors in my first two weeks.

For this week’s post-processing I used only FotoSketcher. Few weeks ago I turned one of my images into a vintage photo and it worked so nicely. The only problem was that it turned into a monochrome and I wanted to have some color in this image, it looked rather bland in b&w.

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Week 3

I was looking around the FotoSketcher and spotted a feature – merge the original image with the result. There are scales to be adjusted, a lot of hit and miss was going on, but I finally got what I wanted.

This is my image for Week 3. I love the colors and the vintage look, I just couldn’t figure out the composition. This image doesn’t speak to me, there is no story lurking from the dark corner. I worked for too long and realized I was stuck. So, I decided to leave it like this and try to work on all my ideas next week.

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So, onward to the next week. Right now I am thinking of using Week 3 as a starting point, but will probably change my mind 735 times. 😀

For all the details on this One Four Challenge be kind and visit Robyn’s blog Captivate Me.

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‘Tis the Season

The 2014. is coming to its end and all I can wish for the next year is to be just as good as this one was to me. Nice and easy, slow and steady…unless I decide to be wild and reckless. 🙂 Otherwise, just leave me be.

Here it is, my second to last 2014 After Before Friday, with my little snowman. This is my Christmas Wreath, hanging on my front doors.

Funny story: I had an old Christmas Wreath that I made by myself years ago. Last year I thought it was a time to change it, so I bought a beautiful, big wreath with frost and little red berries all over it. What I realized too late was that it was too heavy, so it ended up to be a centerpiece for my dinning table. And the centerpiece with the addition of one little snowman ended up hanging on my front doors. Ok, maybe this is not a very funny story. :/

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The only interesting thing I did was using Focal B&W effect, which gave me nice fadeout from the center of the image. I hoped this would work well with the frosty vignette, achieving a soft transition from a very colorful little snowman to that frosty edge. Nothing spectacular, but it was a helpful experiment for future ideas. In past I had trouble with that frosty vignette, it just didn’t look good on any image, I am glad I figured out how it can work.

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So, one more AfterBeforeFriday left. Then it is time for a little holiday hiatus. Prepare yourselves to be dazzled by our 2015 edition, full of new surprises, names, challenges and most of all, lots of fun.

If you want more info about the ABF Forum and how to participate in all the fun, hop to Stacy’s blog Visual Venturing

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My Way

I had a revelation last night. An epiphany. A divine intervention of a kind. Ok, nothing that dramatic. But I like how it sounds, serious and deep.

In fact, the opposite occurred. For the last few days I was searching my very modest folder “My Pictures” for this week’s entry in Monochrome Madness. Isn’t it funny,  how many rainy days we had this years, the year I finally started to learn and explore the world of photography. So, instead of walking out and about and taking images, I am forced to recycle my old images.

On top of that, for unknown reasons even to me, I decided to post Christmas-related images this month. Why would things be easy when they can be oh so complicated? I have maybe 10-15 Christmas images in my collection and from those 10 not one is of a good quality. But things like that can’t stop me, hence the title “My Way”.

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So, here is my image from 2007, the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. I took this image as we were leaving, my last glimpse of this beautiful place, rich in history and art. If you ever visit Vienna, don’t miss this place, its interior is vastly superior to Versailles.

I don’t really know if anyone is interested in my post-processing choices, cause there is nothing much to learn. Ok, maybe one interesting thing is how I cropped the image to panorama and I think it works great with the layout of the building. I implemented so many different things, textures, effects, vignettes, layers…but I just couldn’t get what I wanted. As a last resort, I used FotoSketcher and played with textures, giving it a harsh canvas look. It seems that worked, because somehow it tamed that slightly overblown sky and accentuated the focal point of the Palace.

When I finished, I stepped back and observed for a minute. Doubts swirled around, my little imaginary companions argued, I asked myself: Isn’t this a little too close to what I did the last week? Am I using too many tricks to hide the poor quality of my images? Are my images boring? Same old, same old?

That’s where that epiphany from the intro came into  play. I don’t care!!! I like it and I think it looks great. I enjoyed the process and managed to turn a bland image into a story. I always look for the story in my images. There is a ball in this one…and I am in a horse-drawn carriage, wearing a beautiful gown…and I am going to dance till the morning…I’ll seduce the secretary of state and steal some top secrets, me being a spy.

So, that is my story. I am leaving you now, chasing my next adventure. Hope you will find your own.

Be sure to check other fabulous entries on Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY.

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December #One Four Challenge – Step II

Here we are , Step II of December OneFourChallenge. My Week 2 is looking very different from my Week 1, but I promise you both came from the same image. That’s why I chose it, I hoped it would give me the chance to really step out and away from the usual stuff.

My first step was to crop the image and it took me some time to come up with the composition that works. I needed one special ornament that I would make stand out and that Santa was just what I was looking for. Then I clicked on that pesky Orton effect. I don’t know if my infatuation with Orton will ever end, but it seems every time I use it, works perfectly for that image.

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I used Focal Soften and adjusted the radius to cover only that ornament, so everything else would be a little bit blurred. After adjusting exposure and saturation, I applied a soft vignette, just enough to add a little bit of magic and bring those glowing ornaments step closer.

The post-processing was done in PicMonkey and a little bit of healing in PixlrExpress. I like how this image turned out, all the steps I took gave me that soft glowing feeling, like the ornaments were lighted from the inside. I really can’t wait to show you the original, it will be interesting to read your comments.

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I hope you’ll continue to follow the adventures of all participants in this fun challenge. All you have to do is search for the tag – OneFourChallenge. And if you’d like to join the crazy ride, just check all the details on Robyn’s blog Captivate Me.

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Freak Factor

First Friday of the month. This is the last Friday we are doing a regular AfterBeforeFriday Forum. Starting January, every first Friday of the month we will be featuring a single image edited by all participants.

If you want more info about the ABF Forum and how to participate in all the fun, hop to Stacy’s blog Visual Venturing

I was looking through the images for this weeks’ entry and stumbled upon this one. It just screamed at me: “Pick me! Pick me!” I don’t know why I always pick a challenging image of a poor quality, I swear I am not into all that S&M stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😀

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Anyhow, I started with no idea what to do and somehow ended with this Freaky Christmas Card. I mean, look at them. That is one freaky family. Mother with alien eyes, a slightly tipsy Father, that kid is on some bad weed and don’t even let me started on two Grandpas with their sicko faces. The only normal person is that poor little girl, which just accentuates the freaky factor of others.
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This image was taken years ago on Vienna’s Christmas Market, in a children’s part of the market. Freaky, right? I don’t know about you, but I think they are awesome. 😀

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Have a nice weekend, go out and enjoy Christmas decorations and seasonal festivities. And don’t spend too much money on gifts, it’s all about love and family and friendship.

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Christmas Lights

This is week 40 of Monochrome Madness, I’ve been doing this for 33 weeks. 33 different monochrome images, my experiments in the world of post-processing and general taste. Some turned out to be success, some were not. I learned a lot and still, I know nothing.

This week I tried to get the old photo look once more. But this time, I wanted it to really look old and worn, like it was found discarded in a bottom drawer of an old desk. After my usual adjustments (cropping, exposure, effects, a light vignette), I ended the post-processing in PhotoSketcher and used a “vintage photo” effect.

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I am not really sure about this one, so I am sending it out into the world, maybe someone will like it more than I do.

If you want to see some great and inspiring monochrome images, be sure to hop over to Leanne Cole’s blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY.

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December #One Four Challenge – Step I

Welcome, welcome!!!

First day of the last month of the year, first Monday, first week in a new One Four Challenge, courtesy of Robyn from Captivate Me. The idea is to take one of our own images and process it four different ways – sharing it over four weeks on our own blogs – one image per week. If you would like to join in the fun, please hop to her blog and read some more info.

Last month I revealed the original from the beginning. This month I will take a different approach, because my idea is to really make every step unique and as far removed from original as possible. I don’t know if I’ll succeed in my intentions, but it will certainly not be for lack of trying.

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I don’t know if you get yourselves in trouble too often, but it seems I just look to make things harder for myself. I was bent to have a Christmas image as this month’s subject of my crazy experiments, but I don’t have a lot of “christmasy” images in my collection. I was playing with few and decided on this one from my trip to Vienna in 2007. I was so fascinated by the variety of decorations, I spent my time going around their famous Christmas Market and snapping pictures.

I could beat myself with a stick for the lack of quality. But if I did that for every poor image I ever took, I would end up in hospital. 😛 As my grandma and all grandmas around the world used to say – No crying over the spilt milk.

My post-processing choices are by now well-known and too boring to repeat over and over again. I am really trying to stay away from Orton, but every time I use it, I just can’t go back. One thing I used for the first time was adding the snow. There is a section in PicMonkey with different Themes, one of those is Winterland. There I found some snow just lying around and thought to myself: Why not?

Please, shower me with your love and admiration and I will smoother you with tons of “christmasy” stuff. 😀

EDIT:
My best friend just called me and demanded I remove the snow: “I don’t like it! Remove it, it looks so fake.” Oh my, she nearly gave me a heart-attack, but I am sticking with it.

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Night And Day You Are The One…

…Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me or far
It’s no matter, darling, where you are
I think of you day and night

ABF Forum is on a holiday break. But that doesn’t mean I am. So, while our American and Canadian friends are feasting and spending time with their loved ones, I am typing this post while I am still working. But it’s Friday afternoon, a new weekend is almost here, so I am allowed to cut  corners.

I discovered a new feature in PicMonkey, nice transparent layers that you can add to the background of your images. Some features are free, for some you need to pay . I needed the one that was not free. 😛

Before

Before

If I remember correctly, I visited Paris in the fall of 2000. We had such a lousy weather, cloudy, hot, high humidity. So I ended up with collection of really poor images. We were shooting with analog Minolta and I remembered it was a good quality camera.

Two of the images I already worked with and posted on my blog. One was for the ABF Forum, Bassin d’Apollon in Versailles. It was at the beginning of my editing journey and from today’s perspective, it was a poor editing job. The other was Gargoyle on top of the Notre Dame, which I submitted for this week’s Monochrome Madness.

All of the images are scanned paper photographs, that is visible in the bottom right corner of the image above, you can see some lines there, paper texture.

After

After

My first idea was to replace the sky. I tried to do it in GIMP and I figured it out. But the problem was there were too many “white” parts in the tower grid and in the trees. I remembered something from the PicMonkey, so I opened the image there. Under the textures I located “Clouds” and used a regular blue one. It was a perfect fit. But, clouds cost money. And I am not interested in upgrading PicMonkey. So, the next best (free) thing was “Space” texture. It was not a perfect fit, but I liked it.

It took some additional work in adjusting exposure and color, using several different layers, but in the end I got what I wanted.

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I hope you like my little experiment, maybe this will inspire some of you to try PicMonkey, it is really a cute little program,

Next week ABF is back in its usual form, participants submitting their individual after/before images.

But next year brings some changes. As some of you noticed, we had a fun little experiment few weeks ago, when all the participants edited one single image. We had so much fun,  we decided to do that once a month. So, starting January 9th next year, first Friday of the month will be reserved for that special event – one image for all participants to play with.

If you want to join us, keep an eye for our posts in the weeks to come, we will supply you with all the info you need.

On Monday another challenge starts – December One Four Challenge. I think you noticed how much fun I had with November One Four Challenge, so expect some fun and crazy Christmas things to come.

Enjoy your weekend! ♥