Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ballona Creek, Birds, Curves

Ballona Creek today is a body of water in a concrete embankment in Los Angeles that flows into Santa Monica Bay.  Wikipedia gives us these choice bits of history:

 Ballona Creek and Lagoon are named for the Ballona or Paseo de las Carretas land grant, dated November 27, 1839. The Machado and Talamantes families, co-grantees of the rancho, heralded from Baiona in northern Spain.[5][6
...At the time of Spanish settlement, the Los Angeles River turned to the west just south of present-day Bunker Hill, joining Ballona Creek just to the west of its current channel. However, during a major flood in 1825, the Los Angeles River's course changed to its present channel, and Ballona Creek became a completely distinct waterway. Much of the above-ground section of the creek was lined with concrete as part of the flood-control project undertaken by the United States Army Corps of Engineers following the Los Angeles Flood of 1938.[7]
Birds, well you know what birds are.

Curves is a tool in photo software like photoshop that does strange things to light and dark and colors.  I don't understand quite what it does and I tend to experiment.  I figure if I do this enough, I'll start to see patterns for how the images change.  You can see, if you check the link, that what people write is interesting, and I've done some minor adjustments like they talk about, but the color freak in me is much more interested in the extremes, as you'll see in a couple pictures below.

I'd note I've saved the most interesting pictures for the end on the grounds that my readers will be rewarded for at least scrolling through the pictures, even if they don't read any of the text.

Part of this experimenting results from leaving my bigger camera in Anchorage and having to do bird shots with the little one that doesn't do distance well.

This first one was not altered in photoshop or anywhere else.  This snowy egret was standing near the Lincoln Blvd. bridge and the sun on the green and yellow of the bridge just rippled in the water like this.  I did crop the picture, but that's not altering.  How you frame the picture in the camera is cropping.

There was a sun cracked and warped bird sign where I got off the creek (at Centinela) that listed some of the common birds at the creek.  You can see the sort of baked look of the sign and when I enlarged the row of birds I shot, they were getting fuzzy in a similar way.  I didn't do anything to these pictures except resize them and put them together.

Below starts the curves experiments, first with the brown pelican.  (This is my least favorite of the group.)   I cut out the pelican in a circle and then I applied the curves to the whole picture and put the pelican cut out on top.  In this series I've include some of the original picture in with the curved portions of the photo.

Here's what the curves chart looks like.  The grey, as I understand it. . . actually, I don't understand it, and I'll just let you look it up yourself.  You know that's not like me, but I've decided that I'm just going to have to learn this non-verbally, by experimenting.

The curves box starts with a line going diagonally from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. As you move that line around (this one is probably a bad example because most of the ones I've done are curved) you get different effects - changes in light and dark and in color.  It's good to use if part of the picture is too dark or too bright for the rest of the picture.  You can change the one part to work better with the other part.  In this case I made it more horizontal and vertical than curvy.

Next is the great blue heron.  (The bird sign only listed the great blue and when I checked on line, it matched pretty closely.)   In this shot, I first split it diagonally and the applied curves to the top part.

I'm calling this one Ballona Creek Bore Tide.  I don't know if that's what they call it here, but these waves came in all of a sudden and reminded me of the bore tide on Turnagain Arm.  Here, I curved the middle - and in this case it really had a functional purpose:  it emphasized the waves and ripples I was trying to show.  I left a bit of the original as a frame.  

Now we get freaky.   The sun was on the cement legs of a bridge.  I came close to what it really looked like by adjusting the hue and.  So then I went crazy with curves.  

In this one, the center is the slightly hue and saturation enhanced original and the outside is the rest of the original picture, curved hard.

In this one, the center, horizontally, is the original picture, and the top and bottom are curved.  Even the original looks a bit unreal.

I'm not sure what this all means, but I think it fits in with the blog's basic theme - how do you know what you know?  The altered colors forces me to see things in the landscape that I never saw before.  And I'm still trying to absorb the combination of the original and the altered state.

And, it's a reminder that photos no longer represent reality.  Seeing is not believing.  I still think that photographers should distinguish between pictures that are unaltered from the camera and pictures that were tweaked, even slightly.  But I'm afraid that so many photographers are tweaking hard after they take the picture, that it's a lost battle.  I suspect some photographers assume that the viewer must know they picture was tweaked.  But I think many don't realize how much.  

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