Surface Reflections

One thing I’ve found that makes photographs more interesting is using a surface reflection of your subject. It could be trees reflecting in a lake, or still life like the photos below.

Apples & Oranges - EOS 50D

Apples & Oranges – EOS 50D


March of the Almonds - EOS 10D

March of the Almonds – EOS 10D

The fruit was photographed on a glass coffee table, and the nuts were on a granite kitchen counter.  All you need a smooth surface and at least some light coming from behind you or to the sides to “front light” your subject.

Also notice that the fruit photo has a darker background because the only light was a lamp in the room to my left side. The nuts had bright window light behind me, as well as reflected window light off the fridge and kitchen cabinets in the background.

This particular type of photo benefits from a wide aperture setting. A blurred background gives it more impact by making the subject stand out. The apple and orange were shot with a 28mm f/2.8 at f/3.2, and the nuts were done using a 50mm f/1.8 at f/1.8.

I used prime lenses, so my flexibility in distancing myself from the subject was limited, but with a zoom lens, you can experiment with backing away and zooming in on the subject to see how it affects your depth of field, in addition to aperture settings. Usually, as you get physically closer to the subject, the depth of field gets more shallow, like these pictures where I was just a few inches away.

Hopefully this will give you some inspiration for rainy day, indoor photography!


Duplicating Canon’s “Color Accent” Effect

I shot this picture of a rose back in 2006 with a Canon Powershot S3 IS.  It was one of those point-and-shoots they call a “super zoom” because it had a very wide range of focal lengths. It looked like a little mini-SLR. Anyway, a lot of Canon cameras have a special scene mode called “Color Accent” which turns the picture black and white except of one color. One cool feature is that you can adjust the sensitivity, or color range, while looking at the preview on the screen.

Color Accent Rose - Powershot S3 IS

Color Accent Rose – Powershot S3 IS

This has always been one of my favorite photos from that little P&S camera, and I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to learn how to edit a color image file to get the same effect. Six years later, I finally decided to dig in and start Googling to see how the experts would do it.

The most common way I found was using adjustment masks in Photoshop. But erasing the parts of the black and white adjustment that I wanted to be color gave me a hard edge. Even with a soft-edged brush, it still wasn’t the effect I wanted.

Then I saw somebody using a color selection tool in Photoshop to select a range of color. For example: dark pink to light red. I can’t afford Photoshop, but I have Pixelmator and discovered that the “Select Color” option did the same thing. Once the parts you want to keep color are selected, invert the selection and desaturate.  That’s it! Easy!

I took this with my EOS 10D in 2004 (before I became RAW-enlightened), but the original JPEG file was a good exposure and didn’t need major adjustments.

Daisy - EOS 10D

Daisy – EOS 10D


Daisy - Orange Only

Daisy – Orange Only


Daisy - Yellow Only

Daisy – Yellow Only

Plug-in image editing software

Last year, trying to save money, I bought a used dSLR. It developed a series of problems over the course of the year until it wouldn’t even turn on. I’ve had several other Canon cameras (which I purchased new) and never had any issues at all, even after 10+ years, so I suspect this one was abused.

I sold it for parts and replaced it with a new EOS 7D. So I am excited and leaning very heavily into the photography side of my hobbies right now. I am feeling a bit overloaded with information, learning a new piece of gear along with learning more about post processing. Right now I am playing around with some plug-ins for Apple Aperture (or Photoshop, or Lightroom, if you prefer).

Olympia Brewery

Olympia Brewery

This is a picture I took, and then used a plug-in to edit inside of Aperture. The advantage to this is that you can save the finished product easily into your Aperture library and make additional adjustments to it using Aperture itself. The plug-in allows you to do things with your photos that you wouldn’t be able to do with a simple photo editor like Aperture and Lightroom.

Each photographer has their own style, and I tend to like sharp, contrasty photos which have bold colors. I noticed this affects the looks I like to see when I am post processing, so I am trying to vary the style and trying to create different looks.



For example, the above photo has an unsaturated, softer look than how I usually edit.  It also has a painting effect applied, and I usually prefer more true-to-life and realistic. The goal is that I want to explore more possibilities and become a more versatile photographer and artist.

Capital Lake

Capital Lake

This photo is more like my typical style. Bright and saturated colors with sharp details, but I used a plug-in preset to add effects which give the photo a more “processed” look than the simple enhancing adjustments I normally do.

Golden Panes

Golden Panes

This photo combines two things that seem to make for interesting photos: a repeating pattern and reflections. Another plug-in preset helped to give the photo a different look.

Spring Grass, Winter Trees

Spring Grass, Winter Trees

I am still getting the hang of this, but I do like painting style effects on some photos. And as I said before, I like contrasty photos, so this look appealed to me.

Olympia Brewery - B&W

Olympia Brewery – B&W

This is the same building which is in the first photo in this post, but what a different appearance! I shot black and white film when I was taking photography classes and developing my own prints (more than 10 years ago). What I need to learn now is how to spot which of my photographs would make good black and white images. Fortunately, with digital non-destructive editing, I can try things and “undo” if I don’t like the look.

In Aperture, I can have multiple versions of the same photo with different adjustments applied. The space taken up in the Aperture library is still only one master file. When I use plug-in software, though, it saves an additional TIFF file in my Aperture library, so more storage space is taken. Just thought I should make that clarification.

Smooth Sailing

Smooth Sailing

This is a combination of a blue colorization and a vignette effect. It took a drab duck on brown water and turned it into a much more interesting photo.

These plug-ins are like Photoshop filters, only with more flexibility because of all the different adjustments that can be made. It’s a fun challenge to take a rather unimpressive photo and try to give it more punch or impact.