One Four Challenge – December Week 1

Last month I took part in the One Four Challenge hosted by Robyn Gosby at Captivate Me.  This is a photo processing project whereby you select an image to work on and edit it in four different ways over four weeks, posting one processed image with explanations each week.  I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with other participants.  We provided feedback, encouragement, suggestions to each other and I got a lot from the exercise. It is a great way to learn about photo processing, improve my skills and experiment.  So I decided to participate again in December.

December’s Subject

This month I want to focus on a special image: a white tern, photographed last year at Elizabeth Reef in the middle of the Tasman Sea, some 650kms off the Australian East Coast.  It is quite fitting, since we are aiming to go back there for this year’s sailing adventure.

You cannot get much further away from civilization, yet this little tern befriended us, greeting us as we arrived at the reef from Lord Howe Island.  It flew around our boat for a long time, then settled on the cabin’s roof, totally unafraid of us.  The next day it stayed on our deck with its mate for hours as we were sailing back to the mainland.  We felt extremely privileged.

The picture I took of our feathered friend is one of my favourite bird photos.  The white tern’s plumage is exquisite.  I feel there is nothing I need to do to refine the image.  What I really wish to achieve is to give the image an artistic feel.  I will learn along the way and I will relish admiring this little bird, and spending the next four weeks in its company.  I hope you do too.

Here is the original image:

White Tern

Processing Week 1: “Flying in company”

Ping back to Robyn’s blog for December Week 1

At first there was one tern, but then she brought all her friends.  We were delighted to be surrounded by those little fairies… till we found their calling cards on the deck!  But they were too beautiful to mind!

So for this image manipulation, I am re-creating the appearance of multiple terns in the sky and their translucent wings.

Week 1 - Flying in company

Week 1 – Flying in company

Here are the steps I have followed, using Photoshop Elements 9:

  • Cropped the photograph into a square;
  • Created duplicate layers, each with a subtle embossed image of the tern, using the  filter/stylise/emboss tool.  I chose embossing to replicate the translucent appearance of the wings;
  • Set the embossing at an amount of 150%, an angle of -130° , and a height of 12 pixels (out of a possible 99), then merged it into the background image.  I experimented with different settings as I wanted the embossing to be noticeable, but discreet;
  • For each layer, altered the size, placement and orientation of the embossed bird;
  • Combined and flattened the layers.

I think I now understand a bit better how layers work!

I’d love to hear what you think of this treatment.

To see other participants’ projects, click here.

39 thoughts on “One Four Challenge – December Week 1

  1. I absolutely love this Chris!!
    The image is beautiful.. such a perfect solitary figure and I love the story of your journey and this pristine bird.
    The additions of the embossed birds are beautiful.
    What a wonderful way to start December!!
    Have the best time travelling again x 😀

    • Oh, what a nice encouraging comment, Robyn. Thank you so much. I find that if you really love an image and it is loaded with meaning as this one is, you take special care with the changes you make to it. Thanks also for the good wishes… Sailing away at the end of the week, weather allowing!

      • Its very true Chris – if we are invested in something or its personal, I think we’re able to give more of ourselves.
        I know it works that way for me.
        I love this!! Its uplifting 😀
        Travel safe and I know you’ll have fun!

  2. Hey Chris, its a lovely original image and a really creative way to process it. Very suitable for an Xmas card. Never would have thought of this concept myself, at all!

    • Hi Stacey – thanks for the feedback. It is fun to think of a concept and work out a way to capture that in the editing process. I like your idea of a Christmas card too!

    • Oh many thanks for the kind feedback, Wooly! Sometimes I think I might be biased about the original image, so it is nice to hear you appreciate it too!

  3. You are so correct about the birds plumage and how pristine it is. What a cool effect the embossing is. I am going to enjoy following your process with this image. Your story is great, I feel like I know this bird now 🙂

    • Hi Carrie – I thought it was worth explaining a bit more than the basics about this bird, its behaviour and surroundings. Hope I don’t disappoint in the next interpretations! 🙂

  4. Great image and fabulous idea for processing using the emboss tool. I’m glad you changed the bottom left ‘fairy’s’ angle much more than the others, it’s stopped the image looking static (as if it ever could be with this wonderful subject matter) and given us the ‘one who walks to a different drummer’. I hope you can follow what I’m trying to get at 🙂 Looking forward to what you do next week.

    • Thanks for commenting, Lee – I tried to change all of the embossed images so they weren’t carbon copies of the original, but yes, the bottom one is taking a bit of a dive for fun!

  5. I will add my lovely to the comments!! I like the symbolism of this pure spirit!!
    PS you asked about the jungle temple. It was one of the places I visited in the yucatan.

  6. You might as well stop right there, Chris, as there is no way you are going to surpass this image. Take my advice for the future. You have four weeks. Lead off with your weakest shot. The home run comes in the final inning, not the first! 😉

    • You make me laugh Emilio! But I have a couple more tricks up my sleeves, so I hope I can prove you wrong! But even if I can’t, you’ve made by day☺️Chris

  7. Isn’t it wonderful that we can capture such an image for our future so we can see it again and again! This little bird is a fascinating example! Looking forward to seeing him/her again!

  8. Wow what a neat idea! I love birds and a bird story about one befriending you is the best. I’m going to have to try this on one of my photos. Looking forward to your upcoming versions. 🙂

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