A Little Viveza Goes a Long Way

I don’t like to overprocess photos unless I deliberately want a sort of painterly look that may end up resembling something other than a photograph. For that, some of my favorite presents are in Topaz Labs’ Adjust. But for a photo that’s going to remain a photo and just wants that little something extra, I’m increasingly finding that Google’s Nik Viveza is a powerful yet minimalistic tool.

Screenshot 2015-07-30 20.38.27Viveza has four basic settings: Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Structure. You can use the sliders to determine how much you want (or don’t want) of each of these parameters, and there is also a Brush Tool that allows you to select a particular feature in the image to which to apply your edit.

A picture is worth a thousand words. So let me explain further using a few recently processed (or reprocessed) images.

First I sometimes use Viveza to give an overall livelier tone to my image — a bit more “punch,”one might say. That’s what I’ve done to this image of the interior of the Higher Grounds Coffee Co. in Windham, and to this picture of Main Street in Phoenicia. Both towns are in the Catskill Mountains of New York. I did not amp up the saturation of the coffee shop interior to an unnatural level, by the way. Not my style.

But as I said, Viveza’s Brush Tool is a very effective way to apply an edit to a selected part of a photograph.

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In these two images from the Mountain Top Historical Society’s campus in Haines Falls, I increased the structure and brushed the new setting onto the tree stump in the image on the left because I wanted the detail in the venerable old stump to stand in contrast to tne summer’s new greenery, which in places is ever so slightly blurred due to the breeze that was blowing that day.

In the image on the right I increased the Brightness and Structure and brushed these onto the rock to draw the viewer’s attention to the rock.

I did something similar with Motif no. 1 in this photo (below) of that famous building, ensuring that the enhanced Brightness and Structure would catch the viewer’s eye.

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If, like me, you want to give a bit of a “pop” to your photo without going overboard — something nice and subtle — I would recommend trying Nik Viveza 2.

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To learn more about Nik Viveza 2,click here to visit the website.

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To purchase any of my photos on the page, click the photo to get to my Fine Art America site.

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ROCKport and Gritty Ol’ Bearskin Neck

In my last blog post introducing Rockport, Massachusetts, I mentioned that settlers were initially drawn to the area by two things: fishing and timber. Then, in the 18th century, came the quarries. It’s interesting, given Rockport’s proximity to The Granite State (New Hampshire), that this little nearby village in Massachusetts should have had the reputation for rocks – which is, a lifelong resident pointed out to me, where the name came from – but that’s how it is.

By the beginning of the 19th century, the first granite quarries were developed, and by the 1830s, Rockport granite was being shipped to cities and towns throughout the East Coast of the United States. The Industrial Revolution was on, and Rockport became a major source of the high-grade granite that was now in demand.

DSC-0108 cr - 2 blThe remnants of one of the major quarries can be seen at Halibut Point State Park. The northernmost point of Rockport, Halibut Point is a lovely day (or half-day) outing. I was blessed with great weather the day I visited — the sky and thus the water, as well, were deep blue, and the calm winds allowed me to get this reflection.

You absolutely can’t walk through Rockport village without coming to (and continuing through) Bearskin Neck. Bearskin Neck is indeed a neck that juts out into Rockport Harbor, and it gets its name (so the commemorative sign tells us) from a bear that was caught by the tide in 1700 and killed. For Rockport’s first 150 years, Bearskin Neck was its commercial and shipbuilding center. During the War of 1812 it also had a stone fort to protect against invasion.

I like to think of Bearskin Neck as the “gritty” part of Rockport. It’s where you find fishing shacks (including Motif no. 1) and rows upon rows of very old buildings, now repurposed into interesting shops and restaurants. Here are some of my photos.

These vintage bottles sat in the basement (the windows were just above ground level) of a historic old building in Bearskin Neck.

These vintage bottles sat in the basement (the windows were just above ground level) of a historic old building in Bearskin Neck.

When I photographed the Harbormaster's little boat, it sat just under Motif no. 1.

When I photographed the Harbormaster’s little boat, it sat just under Motif no. 1.

 

To purchase any of the photos in this post, just click on the photo and it will take you through to my site. Thank you!

This fishing shack occupies the pier next to Motif no. 1.

This fishing shack occupies the pier next to Motif no. 1.

Recovering My Nautical Roots

In our home town we say, “I have Long Beach sand in my shoes”—in other words, you can move many miles away from your nautical beginnings (as I did), but figuratively speaking that sand will remain in your shoes, and the salt water in your blood.

Those of you who know my work know that I photograph frequently in Rhode Island, where the lure of historic buildings and quaint towns joins the Ocean State’s beautiful, windy coast to ensure that photographic subjects are never lacking. But for a serious recovery of my nautical roots I recently chose Cape Ann, on the North Shore of Massachusetts, because a friend once gave me a collection of card-sized prints of paintings by Edward Hopper for my birthday, and I treasure these as inspirations for what can result when Art and The Nautical meet.

Rockport was my base, where I stayed at the wonderful Eagle House Motel – within easy walking distance to just about everything in this delightfully charming village.

Over the next few blog posts I’ll be presenting some of my photos of Rockport and Gloucester and telling you something about these history-drenched places. I’ll be including Portsmouth, New Hampshire because the proximity of the Granite State’s only coastal city made it irresistible. But let’s start, appropriately, with Rockport and with Motif No. 1.

In the late 17th century two things drew people to Rockport—fishing and timber. In the 18th century came the quarries—more about that in a future post. Like much of New England—again one thinks of Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island, with its beaches in Newport and what is now Middletown—Cape Ann, including Rockport, attracted many artists beginning in the 19th century. One of the favorite subjects of the artists who flocked to Rockport was a fishing shack located on Bradley’s Wharf in the Bearskin Neck section of the village. The fishing shack was built in the 1840s, and its red color, position on the wharf, and the way the light strikes it at certain times of day made it a “must” for the painters, and later, as well, for photographers. It was likely the artist Lester Hornby who first called it “Motif No. 1,” referring to its probable identity as “the most painted building in America.

So beloved is Motif No. 1 that when it was destroyed by the Blizzard of 1978, it was promptly—very promptly rebuilt. Rockport even celebrates an annual “Motif No. 1 Day,” which this year happened, coincidentally, to be yesterday, May 17.

I arrived in Rockport knowing only that I wanted to photograph nautical subjects. Boats, beaches, reflections in water, maybe a lighthouse or two. I knew nothing of Motif No. 1. But when I ventured onto Bradley’s Wharf  and saw this red nautically themed building during my initial exploration of Rockport, I knew I had to photograph it. Here are a few of my “finished” products.

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The light was perfect and the reflections and sky worked. If you want to see a version partially processed in B&W, check this out.

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My friends in the New England Photography Guild were discussing whether it’s possible to find a new way to photograph something that’s been done 12 million times. I don’t know, but here is my attempt:

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Thank you for looking! More on other parts of beautiful Rockport later.