Saturday, May 15, 2010

32 minutes at the aquarium

On our way home from renewing our driver's licenses yesterday we made a quick stop at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The light was overcast, which was perfect for photographing the puffins. Alas, it turned rather sunny right after I took this shot, so we moved inside to check out the sea nettles. It was an intimate setting -- just us and about 1,500 schoolchildren -- my idea of hell. But not as hellacious as my new driver's license photo, which Chris says makes me look like an escapee from a mental institution. Heavy sigh. ©Carol Leigh


Diane Miller said...

Great use of the two kids! And wonderful sharpness and detail in the jellies. Is the light as low there as in Monterey? I'd give anything for another couple of stops there. Even with the 5D Mk II, high ISO just isn't pretty.

Don't feel bad about the photo. Mine shows someone who wouldn't have sense enough to escape.

Carol Leigh said...

Thanks, Diane. The jellies photo is a combination of Photoshop chicanery and my own stupidity. I had just been photographing the puffins, where, because their faces are so white and their bodies and the water are so dark, I had my exposure compensation dial set for one stop underexposed. Once inside to photograph the jellies, I set my exposure compensation dial back to "0." However, if one doesn't have one's camera FULLY on, the exposure compensation dial doesn't work. (Shooting with a Canon 50D.) So although I THOUGHT my dial was fine, it was still underexposing by a stop.

My ISO was set to 640. My settings were 1/25 second at f/4. I try to wait for the jellies to take a "breath," that little pause where they're relatively stationary before they pulsate again. With three of them, that was tough.

So I have a shot that's SORT of in focus. I bring it into Photoshop and use Topaz Adjust "paint" to soften everything. That makes the water look great. But the jellies look awful. So I use a layer mask and "paint away" the Topaz filter effect from the jelly bodies and tentacles. Because they're now against very smooth-looking (and relatively noise-free) water, the contrast makes them APPEAR sharper.

I am SURE there are better ways of doing this, but it's how I did it here. For instance, maybe applying Topaz Adjust to bring out details in the jellies. Then using Topaz Adjust to blur the water. Then "painting back" the details via a layer mask. I think, actually, I tried that first but didn't like the look.

Way too much info ... sorry. But that's how we escaped wackos are. -- Carol Leigh

Diane Miller said...

So many ways to skin a cat. Wonder about blurring the blue channel... The newest CRaw (CS5 only)is supposed to have a big improvement in noise reduction. Haven't tried it yet - the public beta came just out a few days ago. Clarity and Topaz could be awesome for the jellies.

Carol Leigh said...

See? That's why I sometimes think of myself as a fraud when I teach my photomontage class -- "blurring the blue channel"? -- you know MUCH more about Photoshop than I.

Ha! Not that you're gonna get a refund for the class! :-)

--Carol Leigh