Lake Oolenoy and Panoramas

Lake Oolenoy Panorama HDRish
Lake Oolenoy and Table Rock

Lake Oolenoy is one of my favorite local paddling destinations. It’s relatively close, has great scenery, and is perfect for beginners. Thursday morning I headed up there with two of my favorite professors emeriti from Furman, Jim Leavell and Tony Arrington, and Tony’s son, Caleb, who is a chemistry professor at Wofford.

We met at Tony’s house and headed on up, planning on a quick morning paddle. The sky was slightly overcast, but it was still a great day for paddling. Jim and I were in two of my boats, and Tony and Caleb were in Tony’s tandem.

Lake Oolenoy-2 Continue reading “Lake Oolenoy and Panoramas”

Composite Greenville History

On our latest Lowcountry Unfiltered trip down to Bonneau Ferry I enjoyed creating some composite images from old photographs. These show a historic photo of of the plantation superimposed over a present-day photo. The photos proved popular, and I wondered if I could do more with local historic photos.

I love historic photos. I’m a sucker for those little historic images books from Arcadia Press. When I first got involved with multimedia design for the classroom, one of my first projects was to create an interactive display comparing historic images of Greenville taken from the same vantage point over time.

Finding suitable images can be tricky. Copyright issues aside, I could scan the images from my books, but I’d prefer to find something available online. The best, most extensive collection is the Coxe Collection. The Greenville Historical Society has those locked away, available only at low resolution and watermarked to hell and back. The Library of Congress has some good images, as do the South Carolina Digital Library collection and the Greenville County Library.

Recently I discovered that Greenville History Tours had been posting some cool photos of Greenville on their Facebook page. Some of these were perfect for my project, and I spent one afternoon greedily downloading images from their site.

Thursday of this week was a beautiful day, and seemed like a perfect opportunity to put my project to the test. I printed out copies of the historic images so that I could try to line up my photos with the original. I think some of these turned out quite well. I’m going to be posting larger than usual images in this post because of the nature of the project, so I apologize ahead of time to the bandwidth-challenged. Continue reading “Composite Greenville History”

Onion Photography

Onion Texture

SHREK: For your information, there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.

DONKEY: Example?

SHREK: Example? Okay. Uh… ogres are like onions.

DONKEY: They stink?

SHREK: Yes. No!

DONKEY: Oh, they make you cry?


DONKEY: Oh, you leave them out in the sun, they get all brown and start sprouting little white hairs.

SHREK: No! Layers! Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.

DONKEY: Oh… you both have layers… You know, not everybody like onions. Cakes! Everybody likes cakes. Cakes have layers.

SHREK: I don’t care what everyone likes. Ogres are not like cakes… You dunce, irritating, miniature beast of burden. Ogres are like onions. End of story. Bye bye. See ya later…

OK, you may be wondering what Shrek has to do with photography. Actually, it’s more about layers – specifically, layers in Photoshop.

I had been working with layers ever since my friend Duck Hunter showed me the technique. The process can add interest, texture, and even change the mood of a photograph. The process is simple enough…

1. Open a photograph in Photoshop or your image editor of choice.

Calhoun Creek Bridge HDR 2

2. Find an interesting texture, such as the ever-popular “Pollution” texture from Jerry Jones, , AKA Ghostbones, AKA SkeletalMess


3. Resize the texture to match the base photograph, then copy it into a layer on top of the base. Change the blend mode of the texture layer from “normal” to “overlay”…

Calhoun Creek Bridge HDR with Texture

…and the result is an image that combines aspects of both layers. You can change the opacity of the upper texture layer to increase or decrease the effect. Continue reading “Onion Photography”

Weekend Update

Been a crazy, crazy week, both at work and at home. There hasn’t been much time to paddle, take photos, or chase down fire towers or old schools. Here’s a brief rundown… Work Our computer shipments have started to arrive. We’ve ordered far less than we usually do, but there were still pains. Our normally … Continue reading Weekend Update

Image-Stacking in Charleston


It’s been a very long, hard two weeks. Right after the funeral on Monday I drove straight down to Charleston for PowerSchool University – an intense training session on our new student database system. I learned some neat things I’m going to try when I get back to the office, but it was almost information overload. I did manage to sneak out for a couple of hours one evening to do some photography, and was keen to try out the new image-stacking techniques, as well as the content-aware fill tool in Photoshop CS5.

My friend Ken had given me the idea to use image stacking with crowd scenes. The idea was that there would be a blur of activity around a few static individuals. Since I was staying in the heart of Charleston’s tourist area, I figured I’d have ample opportunity to give this a try. Turns out it was a nice idea, but the process in Photoshop probably wasn’t the best choice of tools.

Continue reading “Image-Stacking in Charleston”

Focus-Stacked Macros

Lilly Focus Stacking

Last summer when we were in Maine one of the people staying at the B&B with us was also a photographer. Over breakfast one morning he told me about image focus stacking. The technique is similar to HDR photography, but instead of exposure, different images with various focus and depth of field are combined. Several shots are taken at various focal lengths, and the images are “stacked”, taking the best focused areas from each image to create a very sharp final image.

When I got home from Maine I downloaded Keith’s Image Stacker . Keith Wiley does astrophotography, and wrote the software to sharpen some of his images. I know some people who have gotten excellent results from his program, but I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. I lost interest. Last week I upgraded to Photoshop CS5, which has built-in image stacking, and my interest was renewed.

Continue reading “Focus-Stacked Macros”

Antiquing Techniques for Photoshop

Old Shiloh School Photomatix copy

Lately I’ve been very impressed with the work of Flickr photographer K. Deslandes. She has been capturing some unique images of our state, particularly old farm houses and images of the disappearing South. She has been applying some interesting post-processing techniques in Photoshop/LightRoom that I wanted to replicate. Here’s one photo of hers that had caught my eye…

There are several elements contributing to the antique feel here. First, the photo uses square framing instead of rectangular. There is also the desaturated sepia tonal palette. The sepia doesn’t look overdone, as I’ve seen in some processed photos, but looks like a natural fading from the original black and white.

While these two elements contribute to the antique look, there are two others that really make this shot stand out. Deslandes has used a selective blur to mimic lens abberations in an older camera. On top of that she has added other image defects, such as spotting and scratching. What’s nice about this shot is that the image defects are in sharp focus, even in the areas that have selective blur, such as can be seen in the top corners of the photo. This makes the defects look like they occurred over time, after years of abuse to the photo.

I’ve worked with antiquing before, following a tutorial on the Digital Photography School blog. The tutorial suggests using a Gaussian blur, but it also suggests introducing some noise into the background. That tends to detract from the blur effect a bit, so I hadn’t really focused on the blurring technique. Deslandes photo reminded me how effective a good selective blur can be. Continue reading “Antiquing Techniques for Photoshop”

A Portrait of the Parents

Mom and Dad on Peak Bridge

This past week Dad had been in the hospital to have his pacemaker replaced. Full of new energy, he wanted to get out and about when I came down for a visit on Friday. So, we loaded up the car with cameras and road out into the countryside around the town of Prosperity.

Our drive took us past places I had visited recently, so I narrated. I gave both Mom and Dad a point-n-shoot camera so they could take a few snaps along the way, too. We stopped at the new Palmetto Trail Bridge over the Broad River near Peak, drove past the Old Brick Church near Jenkinsville, drove through the Anderson Quarry area where they mine the Winnesboro Blue granite, then along the shores of Lake Monticello up to the little community of Monticello. It was a good ride.

While at the Peak Bridge the parents posed for the portrait that you see at the top of this post. As I was processing the image, I thought it might be time for a quick Photoshop tutorial on adjusting exposure within a single shot.
Continue reading “A Portrait of the Parents”

Of BOOBs and Curves

Swamp Rabbit Tilt-Shift OOB

Nope, not what you’re thinking. If you came here looking for something else, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. This will be a dull-by-comparison tutorial on Photoshop. In this case BOOB stands for Bridge Out Of Bounds, and Bezier curves are the cool masking technique I’ve finally mastered to make intricate OOB (Out Of Bounds) images possible.

In an OOB, the image appears to break through a frame in the image. Imagine you have a framed photo hanging and part of that photo escaped onto the wall – that’s the effect that OOBs try to achieve. I’ve written about them before here, and there is a great Flickr discussion group dedicated to OOBs. Here is the first one that I ever attempted, where my kayak appears to leap out of the photo.

Tom Kayak OOB

Continue reading “Of BOOBs and Curves”