Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fun With the White House

Fun With the White House

This is a shot of the White House that I took on my recent trip to DC.  It's the front of the house from what used to be the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Cars used to be able to drive on Pennsylvania Ave before 9-11, but now it's close to traffic other than pedestrian. Here, I broke out the tripod, stuck the lens through the fence and snapped away.

We tried to get a tour, but it's not as easy as it used to be.  Back in the day, all you had to do was buy a ticket at a place on the Elipse just south of the White House, line up on the east side of the White House, and go in at the time stated on your ticket.  At least that's the way I remember it.  Nowadays, it's not that easy.  You have to go through your representative's office 6 months in advance, give them a range of dates you would like to go and then wait until 10 days prior to the dates you told them just to find out if you've been accepted or denied.  We, of course, were denied.  I'm not sure of the reason, whether it was because those days were already booked or because we were from Texas and our rep doesn't like the present occupant too much.  Either way, it's total BS.  We traveled all that way and did everything by the book and requested the tour as far in advance as possible and we still got denied.  It's a shame.  My wife and I had seen it before, but we brought my wife's Mom and one of her Mom's old friends who really wanted to see it.  They didn't get that chance, and I don't know if they will again. 

This final product is a mish-mash of all kinds of processing to kind of give it some pizazz.  Not sure if I made it better or worse, but it's growing on me a little.  I can't really explain everything I've done, but I can tell you the programs I've used.  Those include my normal ones plus a new one that I haven't talked about before.  The normal ones are Nik's Color Efex 3.0 Pro, Viveza 2, and Sharpener Pro 3, Imagenomic's Noiseware Pro, and the new one I used was Topaz Remask. Topaz Remask is one I haven't tried before but since I bought the bundle a while back in which this was included, I thought might as well try it.

The original tone-mapped image was pretty blah and I didn't like how the White House looked in it.  So I took one of the original brackets and masked in the White House.  It's pretty easy to do in Topaz Remask.  You just trace around the portion you want to mask, fill in the area with a solid red or green depending on if you want to keep it or lose it and hit OK.  Remask does the rest.  It's not perfect, but neither am I and I still have to read up on it and play with it a little more to really learn the intricacies of it.  After that, I just went crazy with a bunch of filters in Nik Color Efex including, Darken/Lighten Center, Indian Summer, Pro Contrast, Tonal Contrast, BiColor Filter (I think it's called).  I used this with varying opacities and positive and negative control points.  I also used various control points in Viveza to change some brightness on the tree to the right, some of the sky, etc. I still think I need to do something more with the sky, but I'm getting kind of tired working on it.  You can compare what I've done above to the original tone-mapped image is below:

whitehouse_tonemapped

Sorry my explanations weren't much better, but like I said, I've done so many different things to it that I just basically lost track.  One thing I have learned from these programs is that the more I use them, the more I know what look I can achieve while composing the original shot. I guess that  means I'm growing? Either that, or I'm really learning how to make my picture even worse than when they came out of the camera. ;-)

Anyway, what do you think of my final shot, at least compared to the original tone-mapped one above?  Don't hold back.  If you think it looks good, great.  But if not, tell me what you don't like and let me know what you would do to improve it. BTW, I already know that the masking isn't perfect on the left side.  I'm always open to suggestions.  Thanks!

1 comment:

  1. Since I'm relatively new to all this, I probably don't have much substantial input...but, for what it's worth, the final shot looks great! I do have one small inquiry, though...how were the local officials in regards to letting you use your tripod and/or taking pictures there at the White House? Or anywhere around the Nat'l Mall area, for that matter?

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