Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Alley Oop!

I like to wander down alleys.  Not all alleys, mind you; ones that have a backyard feeling to them-- a neighbourly sort of ambience.  They're never as prim and proper as the front yard presentation of a household.  Out back is where people hang out, though many people do sit out on front porches as well, depending where the sun or shade is; depending on which they're seeking; depending on whether they want privacy or to watch the world parade by their doorstep.

Doesn't this fenced-in Montreal yard with its flower-bedecked balcony look homey?  I'm fascinated with balconies and porches, with how people turn them into mini-yards and gardens and transform them into little oases in the midst of a city.  This photo is how it looks straight from my camera; no adjustments, other than size for blog purposes.

But you know that when it comes to photos I really can't leave well enough alone...

so this is how the same photo looks with a little "boost" in Photoshop.  It gives a better feeling of how I felt when standing in the alleyway taking that picture: excited by the vibrancy of the place and warmed by the hot summer sun.

Today, however, I learned on someone's blog how to take a colourful crisp kind of photo and tone it down so that it has a completely different sort of feeling...

I've put a dark blue overlay over it which has really muted the colours and given it the feel of an old photograph.
By incorporating a border from an actual old photo that I have, the aged feeling is further enhanced.

And then by adding a grungy sort of overlay that I found for use on a flickr site, I can take what was a pretty good photograph and turn it into something quite...other.
I find this rendition very soothing and peaceful, and rather timeless. 
Which do you prefer?

But just to snap us back into present day "reality," here's another look at the same scene

Okay, yes, I did boost the tones here again, plus toyed with the edges, giving a hint of the autumn to come.

I have a few more alley shots up my sleeve that should surface in a few days.  I'm not sure yet whether I will tinker with them.  Oh, who am I trying to kid--of course I will!  Photo purists be warned.


  1. Anonymous14 July, 2010

    sigh...now already past two in the morning over here, this walk felt indeed like a small holiday. Smelling wood after rain, and of great joy to read and see already about autumn ! with temperature close to 100F during the next few days. Merci and a wonderful Thursday for you all.

  2. Hi Robert,
    I'm happy to have provided you with a mini-vacation at 2 a.m., and some (imaginary) relief from 100 degree heat! Ouch. That's hot. It's hot and humid here, too, but cools off at night where we live (different in the city) and today we enjoyed rain. The gardens are very happy! Thursday...sliding into Friday...into the weekend. Really, it's all the same to me but somehow there's a different feeling in the air on a weekend.
    Take care.

  3. Good job! I have got to the point where I like to 'tinker' with my pix (oh, can I say that here?) Actually, I had a silver tabby called Tinker when I was a kid.
    However, it's amazing what people can cram into small spaces isn't it?

  4. Hi Saj,
    To "tinker" with something or to "tinker around" is perfectly respectable in Canadian parlance, so I'm thinking maybe it has a different meaning in New Zealandese. And it's a perfect description of what I do with my pix. Photo Tinkerer Extraordinaire!

    Small spaces and cramming...I'm wondering what I'm going to do with a houseful of art and knick knacks when it's time to move (if/when it happens before I'm put in the home, when I won't care any more). I suppose there's always the balcony...

  5. It's probably a good thing that you are not a male of our species, otherwise, you would spend all your time under the hood of your car, tinkering with the motor and changing the oil and stuff, and we wouldn't have this marvellous blog to comment about, and raise a ruckus in the back alleys on...

    Your bro, O.

  6. And there'd be no décolleté either...

  7. Owen,
    I can't imagine tinkering with cars even if I was a male. Or watching sports, for that matter. I have known, or better say "been acquainted with," with many males of our species that have had no interest in cars or sports. For the most part, however, they have been ridiculously preoccupied with décolletés.

  8. You are certainly right, good example of discussion of the subject of décolletés in Notting Hill... Julia Roberts asking "What is it about..."

    Although, perhaps "ridiculously" is not the most apt adverb for this, as, were it not for this preoccupation, ridiculous or otherwise, the future of the human race might have been in question.

    These days though, it is perhaps a bit of a genetic anachronism, as due to overflowing sperm banks, males are no longer really needed to ensure the future of the species. There are even some that have been heard to mutter that the planet might even be far better off without quite so many testosterone driven males around, blowing things up, drinking beer, watching sports, etc...

    But then for some of us artist types, it's an aesthetic thing, surely...

  9. Owen,
    I am going to tread very lightly here and show great self-control, and only smile and nod at your comments, while buttoning my sweater a little higher and zipping my lips a little tighter.

    I will say that as males are generally handy for moving heavy objects, changing light bulbs, and figuring out how electronic gizmos work, it's good to keep one around the house.

  10. Excellent answer... very diplomatic... Maybe we could just get rid of the ones who are too lazy to move heavy objects, and too incapable to figure out electronic gizmos...

  11. And anyway, what's wrong with candles when the light bulb dies?

  12. Who sang that song about Avenues and Alley ways??? haha, my WV is NOMEN

  13. Saj,
    I cannot name that tune! That's so funny about your WV. Do you ever feel like Blogger is toying with you?

  14. Anonymous16 July, 2010

    Loved the original photo and the various views of the same thing and how you can tweak them.
    I am too stupid to use photoshop but play with the settings on my apple computer.
    I crop like mad. Sometimes tweak color settings.
    I have signed up for a thing called
    which is photoshop for idiots. Quite good effects on it.

    Now I can spend the rest of my life on the computer and avoid taking the photography lessons I so sorely need!

    Happy weekend!

  15. I don't really have a favorite per say - as you so beautifully illustrated it's just interesting to see how much the mood of the photo changes from one to the others, and how one image can take on the feel of so many different eras.

    And I love back alleys too. I'm moving soon, and one of the big reasons I wanted to was that I missed having a home with a back alley.

  16. i just got the photoshop myself and will start to learn how to tinker.

    your tinker enthusiasm is contagious :)

  17. ewix,
    I for one never noticed your need of photography lessons! You make wonderful photos. One doesn't need to be smart to use Photoshop...just patient and/or obsessive. I use the basic (ie. free) effects in picnik sometimes and love it! I'm pleased that you liked my "tweaking" here.

  18. Hi Tatty,
    Lovely to have you stop by the back alley to write a message on the fence. I don't have an alley where I live, out in the sticks: I have to make do with a few acres of trees. New Brunswick doesn't seem to have much truck with alleys, generally speaking (pardon the pun). So it's a treat when I get to explore some of those hidden treasures when I visit my daughter in Montreal. I hope you'll be happy in your new alleyed habitat!

  19. Manuela,
    What a sweet surprise to find that you've stopped by. You're in for a lot of fun if you get into Photoshop. I'm constantly learning new tricks and effects and have only scratched the surface. The blog I linked to in this post has some easy-to-follow free tutorials that you might find fun to try. I look forward to seeing your future experiments.

  20. Love that expression "to have much truck with"... have to wonder where it came from...

    Have the lips unzipped a bit yet ?

    And Saj's WV was fabulous, I'm sure that blogger is not only toying with us, it knows what we are thinking... see tattytiara's very recent post about freaking out...

    Oh, and my WV here is "stingst", as in, watch where you step when walking barefoot in the clover in the summer, as those bee-es sometimes can stingst ya...

  21. Owen,
    What a coincidence that you mention bees and clover because I just had a tour of my neighbour's bee wagon this afternoon. He has Italian bees imported from New Zealand (you should hear their accents!) and has made them hives inside a wall of a camper. He warned us to act calm and move slowly so as not to upset them as we entered the camper, after having explained to us in great detail how bees don't just sting one to death, they actually go down your orifices and sting you inside while suffocating you and raising your temperature. So really, stepping on a bee and gettting stingst is the least of it!

  22. Note to self, remind me to stay away from bee hives...

  23. Fantastic back yard.. it's a world to its own.. That takes a while to bring something like this together.. sort of like a bohemian shangri-la.

  24. Gwen,
    How lovely to find you slowly picking your way down the back allies of my blog, picking up little tidbits and treasures as you go, leaving little notes of appreciation tacked to the fence or slipped under a welcome mat. I hadn't considered that it takes years of building up (dare I say "accumulation"?) to create such a welcoming, warm and worn sort of environment. I love your descriptive term, "bohemian shangri-la."

  25. i simply obtained the actual photoshop personally as well as will quickly learn to tinker.

    your own tinker excitement is actually contagious.

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