Friday, 31 October 2008


Do you take good photos? You do, don't you? I've seen them on your blogs, so I know that it's true. Well, I'll let you into another of my little secrets. I take crap photos, but the sad truth is, that I didn't realise it until my husband bought me a digital photo frame for my birthday, back in June.

I was quite excited when I opened my birthday present. It was the best toy I'd received in ages. My delight soon turned to disappointment, however, as I began searching through my memory cards for some decent photos. There were a few good ones, mostly from when my husband had borrowed the camera, but, there was no doubt about it, most of mine were crap.

I resigned myself to the situation, sorted out the best ones and put them on a memory card, which I then inserted into my digital frame. Within a few days, I was bored with looking at the same mediocre photos.

Eventually, my husband decided to have a few days off work. We couldn't afford to go away on holiday, but we went out for day trips, here and there. Wherever we travelled, I took my digital camera, ignoring my husband's snorts of laughter, whilst I attempted to take some average photos to display in my frame. I constantly struggled with my fashionably large handbag, camera case, specs and, very occasionally, with my sunglasses. Sometimes, I forgot to put on my specs, or take off the lens cap. On one occasion, I left my specs at home. At other times, I dithered over framing a good shot, but then found out that I didn't have a memory card in the camera. I balanced precariously on stiles to get a good view of the countryside, or waited endlessly, for a gap in the crowds, so that I could capture a scene in the middle of the city. By the time my husband returned to work, I felt that I had some better photos to display in my photo frame. Once I had them on show, however, I was disappointed once more, as I suddenly realised that most of the skies were overcast and some of them were spoiled by unwanted objects.

It wasn't possible to wait for some good weather and return to all of these places, to have another attempt, so I decided to take a better look at the photo application, which had accompanied my digital camera. I had only ever used it, previously, for a few basic tasks. It wasn't Adobe Photoshop, unfortunately, but with the help of the magic wand select tool and the cloning tool, I was able to improve some of the photos to display in my digital frame. They wouldn't stand close examination, of course, but it's not as if I'm entering them into any competitions, so I don't see that it matters.

Here are a few before and after photos, which I am quite pleased with. Some were taken last year and others quite recently.

The photo below left was taken last year in a village not far from where we live. I have enhanced the colours, so that they show up better on my photo frame and cloned the sky from another photo.

The photo below left was taken just outside the village of Fotheringay, Northamptonshire. Again, I enhanced the colours slightly and cloned the sky from another photo.

The photo below left was taken from the University Parks in Oxford and it is of Keble College Chapel. It was difficult to change the sky in this one and I had about 4 attempts. I had to completely remove the tree on the left and clone it back in again. To get rid of the over exposed spot, on the right, to the side of the tree, I cloned in a few extra leaves, as you can see.

The photos above and below are of Hertford College bridge, in Oxford. I had wanted to see this particular bridge for quite a long time, so we decided to have a day trip into Oxford. The bridge is very popular with sightseers and I waited for 20 minutes, or more, so that I could take a shot of it without people. Unfortunately, it wasn't a brilliant day and the buildings behind needed transporting to a more suitable site! The cloning out of the bicycle, leaning against the railings, in the photo below left, was particularly tricky.

I've been a dreadful cheat, and, obviously the Bridge of Sighs photo isn't a true depiction of the scene, but I am quite pleased, now, with a lot of the photos on display in my digital frame. I only found out recently that I didn't have the quality on my digital camera set to 'fine', so I am hoping that the next lot of photos I take will be an improvement on the last.

Now, how about you? Do you ever enhance your photos, or do you find it unnecessary? Come on, you know you want to tell me!

magic wand select tool - allows you to select an area of your photo based on colour similarity. It is then possible to apply various effects to change that particular selection, only.
cloning tool - duplicates one part of your photo to another part of a photo.


Maggie May said...

No Mean Mom, I NEVER enhance photos!
However, yours look great!
Have fun with your new toy. If you don't like the old photos that you have taken, then get snapping again.You never know what is round the corner and you might end up with a masterpiece. That is what I keep telling myself and that is why I annoy my long suffering husband with all my snapping where ever we go! LOL!

SMS said...

Wow, maybe you don't rate your photographic skills but your application of software is a triumph. I need to discover this transforming tactic,hopefully it doesn't require eons of practice to achieve some decent resuts

Butterfly-by said...

I enhance all my photographs. Either with the simple steps that are part of ht e program that came with my digital camera, or for a more professional look I use Paintshop Pro. There is no need not to, as it is all still a product of your fine tuning and instinct for what is good. I t makes such a difference in how well the end product looks and I don't feel like it's cheating at all. It's like an art and you perfect it.

Suburbia said...

Wow what a fantastic tool(s) [so to speek! ;)] You have a great eye for a photo and it's not your fault if the weather condidtions are not perfect for your shots!!
I was promised photoshop for my birthday in June but it's not materialised!! I would love to have a play, although I think I spend enough time on here as it is.
Well done with your photos. That first one reminds me of an imressionist painting (may have been a Renoir).

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I think your photo's are great, honestly. I take very few photo's so don't need to improve them in any way!

Grit said...

i am so impressed. i don't doctor my photo doings. i should learn how. i could take a self portrait, knock off 30 years, and publish that.

Rose said...

I think your photos are just fine! I'm impressed, though, with your editing skills--I have no idea how to clone or use a magic wand! I use the basic editing software that came with my computer, and don't do much more than crop or improve the lighting.

Digital cameras are great--in the old days I used to take many wonderful photos with the lens cap on or without any film in the camera. And once I discovered what "macromode" meant, my digital photos improved considerably!

Working mum said...

Hey, you're a dab hand at the old photoshop!

I try to take good photos using just the camera, but taking pictures of a four year old they tend to be ad hoc so there is occasional cloning to remove shadows or unwanted people. I don't think it's cheating, do you?

Mean Mom said...

maggie may - I can see that you don't need to enhance your photos! A walk takes twice as long if you're trying to take photos, doesn't it? Isn't it annoying when you visit somewhere and the weather is hopeless? We visited Stourhead, last year, but the skies were overcast and photos were spoilt by this, in my opinion

sms - It's easy to get carried away, once you start cloning etc! It's very absorbing. I didn't make sense of it immediately, but I got there after a bit (not eons)of practise!

butterfly-by - I slowly began to understand, from my gardening books and books of landscape photos, that every photographer enhances, these days. Photography is classed as modern artwork, and it is expected that you will, at least, fine-tune it, as the technology is now available.

suburbia - It is a fascinating tool and addictive! There's not much you can do about the weather, in this country, is there? We don't get many days, that are good for taking photos, so we are very restricted. I think, with photoshop, you just have to WAVE a magic wand, don't you? ;0) It sounds very powerful! Maybe you'll get it for Christmas??

The poppy photo looks excellent in my frame. I think that it looks like a painting, too. A happy accident!

mob - Thanks mob! I'm sure that there is lots I could do to improve them, but I've always been a bit of a 'point and click' sort of person. I would be pleased if I could sort out my over-exposure problem, but it sounds a bit technical, for me!

rose - Before my digital camera, I'd only ever used a poloroid, or a Kodak instamatic. Anything too technical makes my eyes glaze over. Digital cameras are a miracle for people like me.

I'm not sure what macromode is. Is it the way you take a close up? If it is, I did a bit of struggling, before I finally read the instruction booklet and made the discovery!!

grit - If you could find the time, you would find it fun and totally absorbing! Knock off 30 years? But you'd just be an egg, then, surely?

Mean Mom said...

working mum - To be honest, now that we have the technology, I think that it's expected! I also find it great fun and, it takes my mind off worrying about other stuff, that I'm powerless to do anything about!

auntiegwen said...

Ooh, can you do something with my wrinkles please ?

Mean Mom said...

auntiegwen - You've come to the right place! You name it and I can clone it out!

scrappysue said...

ooooooooooooo - i love the university parks one MM!!! i have PSE (baby photostop) and i love to use hard light and soft light which is a sexed up version of ramping up the saturation! i do play around, but only with a small number of photos, because if i touched up EVERY photo (like the pioneer woman does) - well, i would have less time for drinking red wine and other aspects of blogging!!!

thanks for my award - i think that's the 2nd this week. i'm trackin' good! hugs

the word verification say

FLABIGHT!!! what?????

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Well, I have to say these are great, but you have lost me - I wouldn't have a clue where to begin with the improvements. I'm a total techno-dummy, but your skills are very impressive. M :-)

Mean Mom said...

scrappysue - Hard light and soft light? Oooh! That sounds a bit technical, but interesting! It is very easy to get carried away, with these applications, but red wine drinking and blogging should remain a priority, I agree!!

I love the Keble Chapel building! It is Victorian Gothic, but not to everyone's taste, apparently! What a shame!

I must try and check out pioneer woman, then.

Mean Mom said...

a mother's place - It's good fun, playing around with these photo applications, if you can find the time. Of course, it does mean that something else gets neglected! It was worth it, in this case, though, to get some colourful photos to put in my photo frame. It is like having a framed landscape picture, which changes every few seconds. Isn't modern technology wonderful?

Liz said...

I love cloning! isn't it amazing? And you've done an excellent job on yours. You must have great oodles of patience though. Now if I could just clone Gwynneth Paltrow's good bits onto me,I'd be - well, Gwynneth Paltrow.

Robin said...

Some pictures I enhance. My son take much better pictures than me, his I can ususally just post. I have never tried cloning though, it looks like too much fun.

Mean Mom said...

liz - LOL! And you wouldn't want that, would you? No, you wouldn't!

robin - You have such a subtle sense of humour. It just appeals to me! 'too much fun' LOL!

merry weather said...

Wow, even better than the real thing, what great results!

The bridge looks brighter, how on earth did you get rid of the bike, and cloning the sky, the trees..?!.. It looks so real. Impressive MM.

I put my photos on the computer in a slideshow with music - they're not brilliant, but kids almost always look nice in photos don't they. Unlike myself - I've to delete all the surprising and unwanted nostril and bum shots of me that four year old has lovingly captured, in quiet moments!

Mean Mom said...

merry weather - Re the bike - with my computer program, using the cloning tool, I can right click to choose a bit of a photo that I want to copy and then, holding down left mouse, I can 'paint' the copied bit wherever I want to put it. In the case of the bike, I copied bits of railing and extended them and copied bits of the surrounding stone work and extended that, until the bike had disappeared. It took a bit of work, but it was satisfying!

Bum shots are the best, arent' they? I don't know why no one ever wants to take photos of mom/mum, when she is all glammed up and ready to go out somewhere!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

l have recently completed a short photo shop course, but not enhance my pics actually, its more to fix up old pics from the 30s of family which are faded or folded, ripped or damaged.

I find it very satisfying when eventually one of about 30 photos are actually worthy to me...

I guess I would doctor them for a project, but I would have to fess up l would never pass it off as MY photography.
very interesting and thought provoking thanks!

Mean Mom said...

fat, frumpy and fifty - That sounds interesting. I love old photos. I have a few which my mother coloured with inks.

I would always own up to enhancing photos, but I can see from looking at my gardening books and cookery books, for instance, that most professional photos seem to be enhanced, nowadays. It gives us the wrong impression doesn't it?