Nothing on my mind, 19 July 2009

2009/07/19

Today, I may indeed have little on my mind, mostly on account of having spent all morning working on CAD floor plans. This sort of activity tends to empty my mind more than most…well, perhaps a more accurate description is “displacement,” since my brain isn’t truly empty. It just happens to be filled with program commands, coordinating information between various drawings, and other such nonsense. In any event, this being Sunday, I don’t feel like doing anything serious – apart from the aforementioned CAD work, of course. And yes, I know…today should be the day of rest and such, but well. I’ll do that whenever I like! Meanwhile, here’s another photo for your viewing pleasure (assuming, of course, that you do, in fact, derive pleasure from viewing such things).

DSCN8036A

As you can plainly see, this is a leaf…probably an oak, but again, I’m no botanical genius, so the most accurate I can be is that it is a leaf. On a tree. And yes, I do know enough to state unequivocally that the plant it is attached to is, in fact, a tree. Beyond that, however, is a much different story.

As previously mentioned, I have started using the manual exposure settings on my digital camera, and I think they worked out rather well in this case. To capture the original image, I used the widest aperture setting the camera can accommodate (this being a telephoto shot, I believe the setting was f/4.5, or f/5.6), and adjusted the shutter speed accordingly. The final image is a hybrid color and black & white image, which I made in post-processing. I created a masking layer and erased the portions covering the foreground leaves. The background was mostly dark blues and greens, so I did not feel that they would add much to the image, hence, the monochrome background; I removed the color information from the background by desaturating it, then adjusting the brightness and contrast accordingly. The desaturate command tends to produce a “grainy” result, even in areas that would otherwise appear smooth in the original image, so I copied the masking layer and applied a Gaussian blur to this new masking layer (I believe the blur filter was set to 10 px, but I don’t remember now); following this, I reset the transparency of the blurred layer to around 50% and brightened it slightly, so that the background would not appear too dark. The end result, once flattened, smoothed out the monochrome masking layer quite nicely, and also had the effect of smoothing the edges of the foreground leaves, giving them a slightly “soft” look. I could have removed this by erasing the edges of the blurred masking layer, but I think it complements the glowing edges of the leaves, so I left this part intact. Finally, there were two noticeable blemishes on the large leaf (discolorations), so I removed these by using the pattern stamp tool; I left the hole on the right hand side, since I don’t think this detracts overmuch from the leaf itself. And lets face it, you would’ve been suspicious if the leaf appeared “perfect,” wouldn’t you?

More than most of my other photograph posts, I would highly recommend following the link to the original on my Flickr site. On the full-size image, you can clearly see the vein structure of the leaf – they’ve been nicely highlighted by the direct sunlight that is shining on the leaf. I don’t think you can fully appreciate this rather subtle detail in the small image I’ve posted here. Your choice, of course.

Enjoy.

P.s.  I liked this image so much that a suitably modified version currently graces my computer desktop background. I say “suitably modified” because my computer’s display has a different aspect ratio than the original image, and I wanted to control the exact composition when it turned up on the background. As such, I cropped it to the proper pixel dimensions, so that it would be an exact fit. And yes, before you ask, I am that compulsive; if you think that’s bad, you should see my personal file structure…last time I checked, there were several hundred individual folders and subfolders involved…

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