Botanical Gardens Falls Artistic Version


To explore what it would mean to live fully, sensually alive and passionately on purpose, I have to drop my preconceived ideas of who and what I am. – Dawna Markova

This quote of Dawna Markova reminds me that creativity requires giving up our usual and comfortable way of doing things. Erich Fromm similarly stated “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” Charles Dickens, in the same vein, said “The important thing is this: to be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become”.

I am a person who, after developing a certain level of competence or “success”, enjoys practicing continually, developing habits that allow me to become “lost” in the creative process. This does produce a gradual sophistication of my output. However I lose sight of the fact that quantum leaps in creativity, and the enjoyment thereof, are the product of learning and melding new capabilities. It is because the transition period often produces “unsuccessful” results that I naturally resist change. These quotes remind me of the shortsighted nature and long term constriction of this, more comfortable approach.

The remainder of this post refers to the photo at the top of this post. It is a highly processed image of a water fall in San Diego Botanical Gardens (previously Quail Botanical Gardens) located in Encinitas California about 15 miles north of the city of San Diego. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in nature or photography. It is roughly 50 feet (four stories) high. IMG-7272origi-Pub

This is the original, unprocessed image. Many people will like it better than my processed version. I respect that.

Processing:My intents were first to exaggerate detail and secondly to make the water more apparent by increasing its brightness.  First, minor processing was done in Adobe’s Camera Raw (added a little “clarity” and “vibrance”, reduced noise and slightly sharpened (pre-sharpening which is not destructive as is output sharpening). Then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used to considerably increase contrast and detail (“detail enhancer” filter). Photoshop Elements was then used to dodge (increase the brightness of) the water and burn (darken) some of the bright rocks and the sky in order to direct the eye more toward the water. Finally Nik Sharperner Pro 3 provided output sharpening for display (This is the destructive type of sharpening that should be done as the very past step of the processing).

Now, at the top of this post, it appears as I wish it would have looked to my eye at the time. I will  reprocess this image several more times in different ways/styles for comparison (and maybe be a little creativity).

I am available to assist photographers who are just beginning their experience with photo processing.

J. Michael Harroun©2013


Sunset Like a Window Upon Fire


What a person actually needs is not a tensionless state, but rather the striving and struggling for some worthy goal. What he needs is not the discharge of all tension, but the call of a potential life-meaning waiting to be fulfilled.  Paraphrased from Victor Frankl

I find these words of Victor Frankl to be profound and inspiring. It reminds me that a complete lack of stress or tension does not help a person to grow or to develop their potential.  The goal, he explained, was for each individual to find their ideal level of stress or tension, the amount that stimulates growth of their abilities and provides meaning and purpose to their lives without being overwhelming.

Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was a survivor of German concentration camps during World War II. While in a concentration camp, he made many observations regarding human resilience and determination of spirit.  In his subsequent book, Man’s Search for Meaning, one of his conclusions is that people thrive on a certain level of stress, which varies from person to person. Less stress than this causes them to feel bored, lethargic or hopeless; while excessive stress causes people to be incapacitated mentally, emotionally and physically.

The remainder of this post focuses on the sunset photo at the stop of this post, which occurred several months ago near San Diego, California. Yes, it really did look like that. I have never before seen a sunset like this, with so much color concentrated in such a localized area. This photo received very little processing. (Specifically, Adobe Camera Raw was used to reduce noise, mildly increase “clarity” and slightly pre-sharpen). Almost all of the processing was to synchronize the position of the waves, as this is a two frame panorama. (During the time that the camera is swiveled to take the second frame, the waves move closer to the shore.) For this wave adjustment, Photoshop Elements was used to clone stamp, copy & paste waves. Finally Nik Sharpener Pro 3 was used to apply a little sharpening for display/web output.

I welcome comments and suggestions/criticisms.

I am available to assist photographers just beginning their experience with photo processing.

J. Michael Harroun©2013