Tag Archives: Architecture

Makeover Story: Portrait of a Cozy Cottage

Everyone loves a makeover.  The list of television shows based on the idea of a makeover , extreme or otherwise, is very long.  Before and after photos of kitchens, backyards, hairstyles, fitness programs, and more can be found all over the internet.  We love the the sense of renewal that comes with makeovers.

A makeover is a one description of what I like to do with my images.  What comes from the camera can be a bit flat and full of things that don’t belong.  For me, that is just the starting point.  What comes from the camera is not always what I envisioned in my mind when I first encountered the scene.  There is a category in this blog call Second Look, examples of images that I’ve revisited and given a makeover.  I’ve been particularly enjoying doing this with images of homes and buildings recently.

I happened upon this lovely cottage when we were visiting Connecticut last fall.   I knew it had the potential for an interesting home portrait.

Cozy Cottage RAW file_ ©GSHaile  This is the image just as it came from the camera.

Cozy Cottage RAW file_ ©GSHaile This is the image just as it came from the camera.

The image just as my camera’s sensor recorded it with no processing at all is a RAW file. Many cameras only give you a JPG file that had been compressed and lost information.   RAW files give you much more leeway to make changes and be creative.

Then the work (and fun) begins. To makeover this image:

  • I cropped out the bit of the house to the left, the little bit of car on the right, and some  of the road in front.  There was still some of the house on the left remaining when I got the proper crop so I added greenery over it, extending the wooded area.
  • There was still a bit of the road in the bottom right corner and I turned that into leaf strewn gravel like the rest of the foreground.
  • The messy power lines were removed.  (One of the most time consuming parts of the image.  Someone should invent a magic filter to take out power lines. 🙂 )
  • Color and saturation adjustments were made throughout the image, both globally and selectively.  Painting in brightness and contrast selectively gives more depth to the image.
  • The dark area to the left of the cottage seemed empty and my eye kept going there, expecting to see something.  I tried adding a bench but that didn’t really do what I wanted.  So I painted in a trunk to anchor the greenery there.
  • The sky was bright and colorless. It’s subtle, but I added a hint of blue to the sky to convey that bright, hazy October sky.
  • The window on the door had something covering the middle panes and I restored the glass in that area.
  • The roof of the firewood structure had the green tarp hanging down which wasn’t very pleasing, so I worked some magic and made it go away.
  • Finally I did some digital painting all over the image to take it even further from the realm of a straight photograph.

All of this makeover was done in Adobe Photoshop.  Sometimes, I also use Corel Painter.

The final image is much more what my eyes and my mind saw when I first came upon this lovely cottage. Not as much a makeover, as bringing the life back to the original image.

Cozy Cottage ©Gail Haile The final painting of this quaint cottage in Chester, CT.

Cozy Cottage ©Gail Haile
The final painting of this quaint cottage in Chester, CT.

Seeing Utica with New Eyes

Utica, NY is the nearest city to me.   In the late 19th and early and mid 20th century it was booming, but like many US cities, Utica struggles to find new purpose.  There is much good that is happening in Utica ( here, here, and here for example) but I will admit to having a prejudice about going there.  I’m more of a country than city person anyway.  So I rarely choose to go into Utica.
On a very cold, windy day last week, a friend and I planned on a play day with our cameras. Occasionally we will just head out and photograph whatever we are drawn to.  My friend suggested we go into Utica instead of our usual wooded locations.   Immediately I thought of one of my most favorite quotes and knew that Utica was the perfect choice for our excursion.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.   Marcel Proust

I would try to see Utica with new eyes and find the beauty that exists there.
As I said, it was a very cold and windy day, so instead of walking we chose locations where we could be inside and warm.  (We’re such wimps!)  We spent almost 2 hours in the library and were gifted with many beautiful sights, just a few shown in these images.  We had such a good time, that we vowed to go back on a warmer day and walk the neighborhoods finding bits of beauty that are present in that place that I had so frequently dismissed.

How could you “see with new eyes”?



Final Fridays: 5/31/2013

I work much better on things like blogs when there is some structure.  Lately, I’ve realized that my posts have become only about mandalas and an occasional blog circle post.  There is much more to my photography than mandalas, though.  So, I thought that I would start a new regular post (add some self-imposed structure) on the final Friday of each month.  I’ll choose 2, or 3, or 4, or more  images from the month that give you an idea of what other types of work I have been doing.   There won’t usually be a lot of explanation, just images for you to enjoy.  These three were all taken while I was in Switzerland.  So enjoy May’s offerings and have a great weekend!


Apartment Geometry_©GSHaile


White Poppy_©GSHaile