Category Archives: Tuscan Vineyard

My best images come with a story – Tuscan Memories

Tuscan Photographic Workshop Tour June 18 – June 23, 2016

Sangimino in the Mist

San Gimignano in the Mist

The best photographs are often accompanied by the memories that are attached to the image. Your own personal metadata is what makes your images and traveling so important.

This was a wonderful morning image that I captured in 2013 in Sangimino, Italy and is one of my favorite memories.

What makes it my favorite is the smile it brings to my face when I see it. We had arrived and could see the village in the soft morning light before sunrise. Everyone knew it was going to be a great shot. Once I parked the van, everyone dashed of a few steps ahead of Jan and I. Craig, Charlie, Steve, and Bob headed off into the tall wet grass to try to find a vantage point to shoot from and Jan gave me a look that still makes me laugh every time I see this image. There was a little farm road that went  up and off to the left of the wet grass,  it took Jan and I to this great (and dry) vantage point.  As we watched the light change we captured this wonderful sunrise. The men eventually came out of the wet brush and onto the farm road to capture Sangimino from what I think of as Jan’s vantage point.

A journey shared is a journey remembered.

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Tuscany June 18 – June 23 2016

Sunrise anywhere on the planet is always a great time to start shooting. The rain and mist mixed with this morning’s soft light in Michigan would have made for great location shooting. With a little luck we will have a variety of weather for the Italian and French workshops coming up in 6 weeks.

Awakening - Montepulciano, Italy

Awakening – Montepulciano, Italy

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Click here to get to my Links page for the 15% off discount code for any of the Topaz products


Tuscan Photographic Workshop Tour June 18 – June 23 2016

Florence is a terrific place to start an Italian adventure. It was built by the Romans and transformed by the Renaissance into one on the great art capitals of the world. There are still a couple of places left on the Tuscan workshop.

Duomo Florence

Duomo Florence

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Our first stop in Tuscany will be San Gimignano, a small walled village an hour north and Siena, it is famous for its medieval architecture and towers that rise above of all the surrounding buildings offering an impressive view of the city from the surrounding valley.

After our morning shoot in San Gimignano, we will be heading to Siena to explore this wonderful medieval village where Leonardo da Vinci enjoyed spending time.

After Siena we will be staying in the Val d’Orcia which is the wheat belt of Tuscany. The Val d’Orcia is an hour south of Siena with the Bagno Vignoni on its west side and the ancient Roman village of Pienza on its east. In the Heart of the Tuscan region we’ll be capturing images, with time set aside to soak in the hot mineral waters of the Bagno, a little wine tasting, and a cooking class for anyone who is interested. We will spend some time processing images using Photoshop’s Lightroom and Topaz and Nik Software plug-ins to help improve your processing skills.

Click here to get to my Links page for the 15% off discount code for any of the Topaz products


Congratulations to Vincent Cordi for winning a Trafalgar trip to Northern California valued at $6,000 dollars!!

Vernazza and Monterosso at Night captured by Vince Cordi

Vernazza and Monterosso at Night captured by Vince Cordi

Congratulations to Vincent Cordi for winning a Trafalgar trip to Northern California valued at $6,000 dollars!! For me the best part of teaching location workshops is the shared learning and travel experience where I have made lasting friendships. Having clients come home with award winning images is a bonus.


San Gimignano, processed using Topaz Clarity

San Gimignano, Topaz Lens Effects, Vignette

San Gimignano, Topaz Clarity finished with Topaz Lens Effects, Vignette

Topaz software

I captured this image of San Gimignano, Italy at sunset in late October in 2012 while teaching a workshop.  The sky that evening had some clouds but not where I needed them and so we waited. The clients had taken some nice images of San Gimignano with  the vineyards in the foreground and a clear blue sky. We had starting the days shooting before sunrise and everyone was getting a little antsy and were ready for dinner. A few had already  pack up and were waiting by the van  to head home for the night.

I knew that the best chance for everyone to get a great image we needed to wait for the light. I had been on location once when the sky was uninteresting and decided to pack up and leave only to see a spectacular sunset in my rear view mirror. There is never any guaranties on what type of light we will have when we are out shooting but I can guarantee that we will be at great locations capturing the changing light and waiting for the  the magic to happen.

San Gimignano, unprocessed image

San Gimignano, unprocessed image

This unprocessed image was captured as the clouds rolled in after sunset with an aperture of  F/11 at .5sec.  After the sun set I was able to eliminate clipping in both the highlight and shadow areas.

Topaz Clarity Color and Contrast Boost II

Topaz Clarity Color and Contrast Boost II

I decided to process this image using Topazes new clarity software. Often I will stack an image in layers and this worked well for this image.  The 1st layer I applied Color and Contrast Boost II and liked the effect but like Oliver Twist I always want a little more.  The next layer I applied CityScape II  and which I liked even more but kept looking at other affects and liked Macro II. All these effects were processed in progressive layers with Topaz’s  Clarity software. But always wanting a little more I decided to vignette this image using the Lenses Effects software by Topaz and was excited with the finished image.

Topaz Clarity CityScape II

Topaz Clarity CityScape II

Topaz Clarity, Macro II

Topaz Clarity, Macro II


Exposure adjustments using Blend Modes

To make Exposure adjustments using Blend Modes you first make a layer. When you make a duplicate or copy layer it opens in Normal Mode and has an Opacity of 100% in the layers pallet. Normal Mode does not change the appearance of the image. In the Layers Pallet Layer 1 automatically becomes an active layer and the Blend Modes become active and you are able to change the Blend Mode and Opacity of this layer.

Duplicate Layer-Normal Blend mode

Duplicate Layer-Normal Blend mode

I find blend modes the most effective way to make exposure adjustments. In the Layers Pallet to the right of the word normal lick on the arrows and a menu pops up, scroll through each Blend Mode in the menu to see how they affect the image. The two I use to affect exposure are Screen and Multiply.

Make a selection in Blend Mode

Make a selection in Blend Mode

I selected Screen mode to lighten the image, this will usually make the image to light but by clicking on the arrow next to 100% and moving the slider to 25% for this images, I lighten the image to the exposure I want.

Blend Mode - Screen 25%

Blend Mode – Screen 25%

 

I selected Multiply mode to darken the image, this will usually make the image to dark but by clicking on the arrow next to 100% and moving the slider to 25% for this images I darken the image to the exposure I wanted.

Blend mode - Multiply 25%

Blend mode – Multiply 25%


Exposure Adjustments in Camera Raw using the Exposure slider

If your exposure is over or under exposed you can make adjustments with the exposure slider in Camera Raw. I had already worked with this image and saved it as a tif. In Photoshop if you go to FileOpen As  the image can be opened in Camera Raw like the original raw image.

File-Open As

File-Open As

To select a tif or jpg file by left clicking on it.

Select the tif or jpg file to open in Camera Raw

Select the tif or jpg file to open in Camera Raw

In the Open As dialog box to the right of Open As at the bottom of the dialog box click on the arrow and select Camera Raw for the file to open in Camera Raw.

Select-Open As-Camera Raw

Select-Open As-Camera Raw

I had already processed this image. In order to demonstrate how to make an exposure composition I have moved the exposure slider the left to -0.50 which  under exposes the image and makes the image darker. If I had moved the exposure slider to the right to +0.50 it would make the image lighter and over exposed the image.  

-0.50 exposure Slider

-0.50 exposure Slider

I moved the exposure to the left +0.50 stop to 0 to lighten the image to the exposure I liked best. This is also the exposure that I captured in the Camera. I try to expose and crop the image in the Camera to create the best possible file. My goal as a photographer is to use Photoshop to make a good image better not make a poor image usable. In Photoshop Elements 11 and CS6 you can make adjustments up to 5 stops  plus or minus but I find that if you have over of under exposed the image by more than 2 stops your recovery efforts will brings poor results.  

xposure slider adjustment to 0.00

xposure slider adjustment to 0.00


Sunset in Chianti Tuscany

 

During the Italian October workshop Janice Maguire a portrait photographer from New Jersey captured this image in Chianti Tuscany just south of Florence. Her composition has the grape vine leading you into the picture with the fence poles, road and rolling vineyards draws your eye across the image to the mist. The clouds and light of this amazing sunset was a gift we all enjoyed capturing

Tuscan Mist at Sunset

Tuscan Mist at Sunset

This image was processed using Film Effects in Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro.

Check out Janice’s portrait work at smug mug.  http://jjm7777.smugmug.com/


Siena Farmhouse – Processed using Photoshop Elements 9 and Adobe Camera Raw 6.1

 

Last fall I spent 2 weeks teaching Photographic Workshops in the Chianti area of Tuscany, Italy. We stayed at a Agriturismo that was  an working vineyard south of Florence, each day we started with a sunrise shoot then head back to the Agriturismo for breakfast. After breakfast we would explore nearby villages for more images and a little shopping. I find that my best images are normally captured at sunrise and sunset except when you are lucky enough to have scattered showers thought the day. When everything is drenched from a fresh rain it enhances the colors. If you are luck enough to have partial overcast, as in this image, your colors are not washed out from the bright sunlight. The mix of blue sky and clouds helped to give this image it’s finishing touch.

 

Raw CR2 File

Siena Farmhouse – CR2 Raw image

Siena Farmhouse – CR2 Raw image

 

This histogram looks good but the image looks a little dark. In the Basics Pallet, I  start with the Exposure slider by moving the slider to +0.20 to brighten the image. This changes the Histogram by shifting the information to the left and created a little clipping in the highlights. To compensate for the clipping, I shifter the Recovery slider to 11 which shifted the highlighted area back to the right and eliminates the clipping.

 

The next step is to adjust for White Balance, this can be done by manually adjusting the Temperature and Tint sliders or using the dropdown menu. Using the dropdown menu to check the presets, with this image I liked the Daylight preset of 5500 Kelvin and +10, this added the warmth you normal see during daylight hours. 

 

The next adjustment I made was Clarity which adjusts midtone contrast. This is a wonderful adjustment which brought out crisper detail in this vineyard image. With the Vibrance slider  I added +40  to bring out the saturation in the midtones. I love this adjustment, it adds a much subtler saturation than you can achieve with the Saturation slider. In this case it enhanced the blues in the sky and richened the tones throughout the image.

Basic Pallet

Siena Farmhouse – Camera Raw 6.1 Elements 9 Basic Pallet

Siena Farmhouse – Camera Raw 6.1 Elements 9 Basic Pallet

The next adjustment I made was in the Camera Calibration pallet, to bring out the colors in this fall vineyard image. Using the Camera Profile dropdown menu I selected Camera Landscape, to bring out all the colors I remembered seeing in this wonderful image near Siena in Tuscany.

Camera Calibration

Siena Farmhouse – Camera Calibration – Camera Landscape

Siena Farmhouse – Camera Calibration – Camera Landscape

The Last adjustment I made was in the Detail Pallet. Right click on your screen and bring the image to 100%. By bringing the image to 100% you will be able to see the effect the sharpening is having on the image. On this image I set the Sharpening Amount at 100 with the pixel Radius at 1.1 and the Detail at 25, which are the setting I use 90% of the time.  With most images I find that if I set the Amount between 75 and 150 with the pixel Radius between .75 and 1.5 and the Detail amount at 25, I achieve my best results.

Detail Pallet

 

Siena Farmhouse – Detail Pallet – Sharpening

Siena Farmhouse – Detail Pallet – Sharpening

 

With just a few minuets of processing in Adobe Camera Raw 6.1 in Elements 9 we have a printable image that will bring out the beauty of  this Siena Farmhouse.

Adobe Camera Raw 6.1 - Elements 9 - Siena Farmhouse

Adobe Camera Raw 6.1 - Elements 9 - Siena Farmhouse

 I will work with this image for several more hours to bring out the colors and clone out antennas and other distractions but for all practical purposes this image is ready for printing.


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