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Friday 7 March 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge: Words and Letters

This month's photo challenge has been the most fun yet.  I love words, and there were so many possible directions to take this challenge:  Signs, books, a photographic alphabet -- all beckon to me.  As you'll see momentarily, I have focused on signs -- words found and photographed in the wild -- but I may well do a little extracurricular shooting around this theme.  My inner English teacher demands it.

I like the puny potential here.  Can cracked souls be fixed like Birkenstocks?

Inspired by the slightly artsy feel of this image, I had fun playing with the different filters in Picasa.  I'm amazed at how much the mood of an image can be manipulated.

A shortcut through China Town.  I zoomed out from the neon Fantan Cafe sign for a little context and captured exactly the sort of scene that I'd been after for last month's challenge on street photography.  Maybe I just had to get warmed up.

Finally, a little graffiti scratched onto the sea wall.  Who is Kurtis?  Was he here to kiss the girl who wrote this or was he obliviously living his own life somewhere else?

This picture benefited from my Picasa play.  Here I increased the colour saturation a little and brought up the shadows in order to emphasize the depth of colour and texture in the cement wall.

I'm wondering, how much post-processing do you typically do on your photos?  What program do you use?  Do you tweak all, most or just a select handful of your photos?

Thanks again to Donna at A Personal Photo Challenge for another stimulating camera assignment.


  1. You did a fantastic job with this challenge, Cristal. Love them all. Really. You're really working that camera and developing your skills.
    I use Picasa and usually adjust the contrast. I would like to learn how to do more.

  2. What great effects. I love using Picassa to work on photos, too! Love that shoe shop....look at those fancy boots in the window!

  3. Beautiful choices Cristal! I love the collage edit as it is so artistic looking. It would make a great poster. The black and white street scene and restaurant sign has lots of interesting things to look at, including the lanterns hanging across the street. The seawall photo is nicely edited too. I also use Picasa a lot but only on selected photos. Most of my photos are unedited. Nicely done!

  4. I do love your cobbler shop photos!
    Liivng in Vancouver you must have a wealth of
    signage to photograph!

  5. Cristal, such a wonderful set of photos for this challenge.........and I enjoyed your thoughts on each one.
    Your are doing a great job with post-processing. I have such fun 'playing' with my photos using iPhoto and PicMonkey........not every one but the majority get a little enhancement even if just cropping for a better composition.

    Glad you are part of the challenge - lucky you living in one of my most favorite cities in the world!


  6. Wow these are fantastic. Love the humor in the first one and all you did to play around with them. Of course I like the energy of the third one, and the mystery of the last one!

  7. your island is much bigger than Nahant, MA where I live. It's only about 1 square mile. I like to think that cracked souls can be fixed.

  8. I really like the way you showed the possibilities with the collage. I sharpen almost everything, but the rest depends on the photo.

  9. It was fun to see how you played with the one photo of the cobbler's window. I don't edit all of my photos but when I do, I use iPhoto.

  10. I love all your photos. I see what you mean about the street scene it would have been perfect last month too!

  11. Great photos,,,,I really like the last one with "I love you"...great colors in that wall!

  12. I'm glad to see that you continued on with the street photography theme with this challenge! The cracked soles sign is hilarious and I love the head-on composition and then your artful play with the collage. The one of the cafe is pure street photography fun, including the black and white treatment. The cafe sign makes it very clear what part of town you are in! And the image is dynamic with the addition of people. Love the last one of the graffiti and how you enhanced it, particularly the colors and contrast. Great job on this challenge!

    Glad you asked everyone about their typical post-processing steps! I take all my images using the RAW format (instead of jpeg). As a result, I absolutely have to do post-processing. I currently use Photoshop CC and it includes a RAW editor. I first do basic adjustments with the RAW editor (white balance, contrast, white point, black point, shadows, highlights, vibrance, exposure, spot exposure, straightening, perspective control, color enhancements, etc.) That step can take me anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes. Then I take the image into Photoshop, making more adjustments (levels, curves, dodging & burning) and applying various plug-in filters. My favorite plug-in filters are Nik Software's Viveza (for structure & saturation) and Color Efex (for various contrast filters, polarization, vignetting) and also Topaz's Clarity (for extra punch). I usually have to adjust my color balance again in Photoshop after applying this, that, and the other. I also can do quite a bit of spot cleanups or content aware fill. Sharpening is applied as a last step. I can spend anywhere from 5 minutes to almost an hour on one image in the Photoshop part of the software and use upwards of two dozen layers. To me, the post-processing step is what makes an image come alive and it completes the full artistic expression.

  13. Your inner English teacher might be looking at a new artistic career...love your work. Especially the last two...there's a bit of grit to the black and white...

    I use Light room, Picassa, Pic Monkey, PSE, and have lots of textures that I have accumulated over time. Now if I just had more time to post process.


  14. Cracked soles...clever. Funny! I love the Fantan pic the best. Looks like it could be from the sixties.

    I use an OLD photoshop program CS4. I almost always run mine through an HDR program. I just love the look of over-processed pics...Not sure why. I also use Alien Skin software (check them our for a free trial).

    Great pics!

  15. When I first saw the I fix Cracked Souls I immediately thought of the spiritual connotation. The graffiti shot is perfect for this challenge!

  16. I think the subject you chose for your first photo is perfect for this challenge! The words, the shapes and texture of the brick wall...it all works together for a great shot! I also enjoyed seeing the editing possibilities as shown in your collage.

    I also love the street scene!

  17. I too think that first photo is so perfect for this Challenge. Love the wording, the double meaning and the composition- who doesn't love a good brick wall?
    Your street shot scene at the Fantan Cafe is perfect, regardless of which month/theme. Great for both! Again- great composition- perfect framing of the cafe sign, and the street, lanterns and people are a bonus, giving us a very clear idea of the "neighborhood atmosphere".
    The seawall shoot is good too- let's hope Kurtis knows he is loved! lol
    I do very little editing. I use Picmonkey for the little I do, sometimes a little cropping and/or sharpening, and occasionally a bit of tweaking with the color saturation or exposure but that's about it.