Macanese motorbike rider

I bravely stood in the middle of the street to photograph this scene as Evil Macau-Knievel hurtled towards me at an eye-popping 20kph (estimated max.). “Get out of the way” screamed Mrs. Ha, fearful of loss of life. But he didn’t listen.

Macau Bikin'

Macau Bikin’

Another play with Color Efex Pro 4; Pro Contrast filter.

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Old Macau and Color Efex Pro

I am the proud new owner of a full set of the NIK Collection of software filters. This was a free upgrade as a prior purchaser of Silver Efex Pro. Yesterday I watched a few of the tutorial videos online and then decided to give Color Efex a go. I selected a shot taken recently in Macau. A Chinese herbal medicine shop, taken from the street.

Firstly I applied the following settings to the original file. Its not quite a bell curve histogram but not too bad.

File Settings

File Settings

This is what it looked like: (click for larger image)

Old-Macau-original

What I wanted was to see if Color Efex could bring out more using the filter called Detail Extractor. Without faffing about too much this is what it produced:

With Detail Extractor

With Detail Extractor

It seems to have muted the tones somewhat and boosted the clarity. Of course you can change the opacity of the filter and you can superimpose other filters or tinker with the file again after going back into CS6. The filter is in a new layer and you can easily delete it if you don’t like it in retrospect. To me it is bordering on a slightly grungy look that you get from badly executed HDR processing.

Here is an alternative process, using Alien Skin Exposure 4 and the Kodachrome 25 (sharp) filter. This is currently my favourite for natural history shots – the flower I photographed on Yim Tin Tsai was put through this one.

Kodachrome 25 (Sharp) Filter. Alien Skin Exposure 4

Kodachrome 25 (Sharp) Filter. Alien Skin Exposure 4

The easiest place to see the impact is the wooden panelling above the door way. Here the differences are most marked. Elsewhere they are more subtle. The Color Efex has dragged more out of the shadows than K25, which is nice but I could have rectified that with a simple curves adjustment on the K25 layer.

It is really a matter of personal preference. These layers however do make the files much bigger. My original file is 29mb. The Color Efex file is 235mb. You can flatten the file but then you can’t go back and play with it again later. I flattened the K25 file down to 727kb. Quite a space saving even on a 1 terabyte external drive.

I can see uses for the NIK  filters and lots of opportunities for experimentation but I suspect it will be Silver Efex Pro 2 that will remain my favourite filter, for B&W conversions. Any thoughts appreciated and apologies to those who are bored by the technical stuff.

Yim Tin Tsai (part two)

Continuing yesterday’s record of images from Yim Tin Tsai, here is a shot from the hill, looking back towards the abandoned village.

Yim Tin Tsai

Yim Tin Tsai

The building at the back is the church. In the foreground are some of the derelict buildings. Below them (out of sight) are the salt pans that are being restored. A charitable trust has been set up to try and restore more of the village but funding as usual is the challenge. The HK government has little or no interest in conservation of any kind as far as I can see. I do not therefore expect to see much progress in the absence of a philanthropic intervention.

Here are more detail shots from yesterday with some processing fun thrown in.

A Bolt from the Blue (or green)

A Bolt from the Blue (or green)

Next a rework from yesterday to create an altogether more sombre mood.

Moody Chairs

Moody Chairs

A simulated daguerreotype of a window detail.

Curtains - monochrome vintage

Curtains – monochrome vintage

And the original colour frame

Curtains

Curtains

And the tea set, still sitting on the rickety table.

Tea set

Tea set

There is enough material on the island to keep a photographer occupied for days. I look forward to returning for another rummage through the treasure chest. The challenge as we approach the heat of summer will be to cope with the humidity. And the mozzies. If anybody ventures as far as Yim Tin Tsai a good mosquito repellent is essential. However, properly equipped and protected this island village is well worth a visit.