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Friday Slide Show: Spring In The Garden Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

20 March 2015

Ah, the first day of spring -- finally! If you don't know Dorothy Frances Gurney's Garden Thoughts, today is as good a day as any to introduce you to them:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Gurney wrote it in a visitor's book in Lord Ronald Gower's garden at Hammerfield Penshurst. We came across it as a boy in our grandmother's garden. If you know your Spinoza, you won't smirk. There's something to it.

We've been working in the garden, which we call The Gym, for about an hour a week all month in preparation for spring. The weeds between the bricks are gone. The ivy has been clipped back. The grass sheered.

Meanwhile, the rust has spread, the wood has weathered and the shadows have shortened.

Around here we didn't have to wait for spring to see things blossom and bloom. Everything is early.

We took a little stroll around the garden for today's slide show. We thought we'd look a little closer than usual. Partly because the overall view is a bit rustic still. Which we call drought tolerant.

It needs the barbecue smoking, the umbrella opened, a few friends around the table. Then it will look more inviting.

We very much enjoyed shooting in the garden, anyway. We noticed things we don't usually take the time to see (particularly when we're out there napping).

But when we first looked at our images on the monitor, we really weren't very happy with them. Just stuff, we thought.

Then we brought them into Lightroom. Still stuff, of course. But stuff you could work with.

There are a few magic tricks to try:

  • Clarity. We harp on this but by adding microcontrast to the image, you increase the apparent sharpness, bringing out detail where before there was just blur. And for closeups, that helps enormously. So we always start there.
  • Crop. Aspect ratio is part of the framer's art. If we found the 16:9 crop of the rusty water valve uninteresting, all we had to do was crop it 1:1 (that would be square if you're still hibernating) to focus attention on the irony of decay in spring.
  • Contrast. There are several ways to increase overall contrast in Lightroom. The Contrast slider is one, but it's usually our last result (we resorted to it this time). We prefer to work the Highlights and Shadows independently. And with an eye on the histogram, which tells us if we're missing anything.

We dropped our Shadow value dramatically on several of these images to highlight a brighter subject.

We thought we had a nice set but we had trouble making our little tile image. It was just too dark and too soft. Did that mean our main image was too dark and too soft? Probably.

So we ran the original DNGs through Piccure+ to get the best optical edit we could and then we brought them back into Lightroom to work on the clarity, crop and tone.

We noticed we had a lot less editing to do. And the images were a good deal sharper, too. We just may have to plug Piccure+ into our slide show workflow. It's rewarding, to put it mildly.

Now if we could only water the poor things. With the drought, this could be as nice as they'll look.

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