This is a journal of our retirement move and life in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island's ruggedly beautiful west coast. The town's motto is "Enjoy life on the edge".

Follow our new adventures at Eyes On Vancouver.

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Friday, 31 January 2014

Florencia, What a Stunner!

One of our favorite beaches here is at Florencia Bay, and it is just a stunner. It's nestled off the Wick Beach road and has a short trail down to the beach, just past this great viewing platform.

The day was lightly-clouded and sunny, so the brightness off the water and the beach made for some challenging exposures. In some cases I shot to emphasize the contrast, with a black-and-white interpretation.

It was also a marvellous day for shooting details, and my eye was effectively caught as we wandered up and down the beach.

I particularly like the way the sand is sculpted by the tides and the way it accumulates specific lighter or darker particles that make up patterns.

Picking out other things on or in the sand can be interesting too.

It's a great beach for walking.

There was lots to look at, both seaward and at the back of the beach.

At one location, a barkless pine at the back of the beach yielded some startlingly beautiful patterns in the wood. The swirls reminded me of van Gogh's The Starry Night. I processed it to specifically bring out the pattern contrast and also to enhance the colours already present in the wood.

Man! You just can't trump nature!

Monday, 13 January 2014

iPhone Photography 101

You've heard the expression "sometimes less is more", right? Well, in a sense, that's what today's post is all about. While not everyone has a professional, or even good amateur camera, almost everyone has a smartphone these days, and most seem to be Apple's iPhone. And surprisingly, the ubiquitous iPhone can be capable of quite good results, even when the original image that you take is not exactly stunning. In this post, we're going to take a look at what can be done with the iPhone and a few cheap, or even free apps, and a bit of work. While not everyone will particularly like the way that I "see" a finished image, I hope that it will at least inspire you to give this a try yourselves, Dear Readers, and see what is possible. OK, to work!

From our walk this morning on the Wild Pacific Trail, I shot the original image below with my iPhone 4:

I use an app called Pro Camera 7 for my iPhone photography because it allows me to separately choose a focus point and an exposure point. This is very handy, especially if you want to keep the highlights from blowing out (no detail left). By choosing an exposure point in the lightest area of the frame, the shadows my go very dark, but they can (usually) be recovered quite nicely.

I composed the image so that the interesting little group of trees is in the upper right third, the little rocky promontory in the lower left third, and the wave connects these two focal points giving the eye a path to travel. By having a promenent foreground, we add a sense of depth to the image.

Now, before we go further, here is a screenshot of the apps that I use the most for my photography workflow on the iPhone and iPad. In point of fact, I usually use only the first four apps. While all these work on the iPhone, I typically transfer the images to my iPad in order to work more easily on a larger surface.

First up, I bring the image into the Perfectly Clear app, which does a lovely job of overall tweaking the image to then use in other subsequent apps:

From here, after saving, I bring the image into Snapseed, a wonderful free app from Google which has some very useful features for image manipulation.

Here, I'll use the Selective Adjust option and add some adjustment points which allow me to selectively alter brightness, contrast ets for the area do colour that I've placed the point on. By using two fingers and pinching in/out, I adjust the size of the area that I want to be affected (as seen below).

Here, you see I've added a couple of points in the sky that I wish to decrease the brightness and increase the contrast to effectively darken the sky to add more drama and heighten any variations in the clouds.

I then add a couple more adjustment points to darken the sea and the increase the saturation of it to make the division of light and dark more promenent.

Having applied these changes, I then invoke the Tune Image function and use it the alter the Shadows to brighten them up and then add some Ambiance.

Finally, I will increase the overall Saturation and we now see the resulting, saved image:

We could just leave to as is now and call it quits. We've improved it significantly from the original, quite flat image. If you're adventurous, however, there's a few more tricks we can pull out of our sleeves!

One very interesting app that I quite like, is called Painteresque, and I often use it to really add some drama and detail (or tooth, you might say) to an image.

I like this setting, but, it's a bit too much for my liking, so I save it, and then bring it into another app called Blender which I then use to blend the Painteresque image with the one I had before inputting into Painteresque. By blending the two (to usually about 30%), I get what I think is a more reasonable result.

After this, I bring this image back into Snapseed and use the Details function to sharpen it up a bit (in this case by about 20%).

Finally, to top it all off, I apply a frame that I like.

So, after all this exciting work, we have our final image:

I hope you've enjoyed this little journey, and that you'll have the courage and tenacity to give this a try with some of your images. Photography has never been more accessible and cheaper. It's simply a matter of taking the time to try things out. You may be surprised with what you can do!

Cheers, and happy snapping!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Storm Advisory - Woohoo!

We got our first storm advisory today, something we've been looking forward to since we moved to Ukee!

Well, we had a quick breakfast and then hustled into the car and drove to the northern trailhead of the Wild Pacific Trail, and hiked out to what we now call Marcelle's Point. This is one of the 'Artist's Loop' points and we often go there and sit out on the rocks to get close to the surf.

The surf rolls in here, slamming into the rocks just in front of us, and today, although certainly not 10 metre waves, it was most definitely exciting!

We'll have a look tomorrow at a different location and see if we can see any bigger waves. Hope so! I took some iPhone video, but try as I may, I can't get it to upload here. It's pissing me off. Ah well, what's life without a little technology frustration?

A Florencia Bay Beach Walk

Yesterday morning, the rain had stopped, and Marcelle suggested that we should go for a beach walk. When I asked her to make the decision as to which beach she preferred, she named Florencia Bay, which I had to admit, I had forgotten. There are two approaches to Florencia, one to the south, which has a shitload of stairs, and another just off the Wick Beach road, which is more direct and less cumbersome (for the physically challenged among us).

So, off we went, and were gratified to see that the wave rating for the day was Extreme, which is always exciting! We reached the beach a couple of hours after high tide, and spent a couple of hours walking north from the trailhead. Here are some images from that walk.







All in all, just a lovely beach, and we had it virtually all to ourselves, seeing only two other couples and a smiling dog.