Saturday, February 16, 2008

Options, Lots Of Options

The image above is a good example of what can happen when you have a well exposed image with good detail in the highlights and shadows (typically either from HDR techniques or because of soft lighting. The result is that you have many choices for what to do with the image. Almost any part of it can be lightened or darkened dramatically to create different output.

In this image, I was able to take the dark round cylinders and make them quite light with real highlights. I was able to darken the long hinge till it didn't jump out at you. I could lighten the wood slats in the background and alternate dark and light in the circular washers.

You can take a landscape image and take a dark rock and make it both lighter and give it highlights so it really stands forth. You can take a medium gray rock and make it look wet.

Point is you have a lot of control over the ultimate look of the image which may have little to do with how the image was captured or seen - this is creativity.

The down side is that without that creative input - an idea of where you want to go with the image and its parts, you are left floundering.

YOu can get ideas from other images you have seen but given you don't know what they started with, you really have no idea of how much was done or in what direction. I remember seeing unadjusted images of Wynn Bullock and the end result with it's mystical, moody, perhaps scary atmosphere was entirely created in the darkroom - and he didn't even have Photoshop.

Great composers write music to sound as absolutely perfect as possible regardless of the interpretation put on it by the conductor. In photography however, the raw file can be simply the building material with no real sense of it's greatness until the print performance is played out.

If you know the mood you want to present, then you probably have a good idea of contrst and brightness of the overall image. You can use tonality of the individual parts to strengthen composition.


Joseph said...


Please take a look here:
If you like this way of presenting your thinking (i.e. using marked-up photographs), it would be a joy to see your thinking, expressed this way.

Thanks again for this excellent blog.

Mike Mundy said...

Ansel Adams' manipulation of his famous Hernandez, New Mexico photo is pretty well-known. In Adams' mind, his various versions of this negative, done over time, were clearly "improving" the image. However, to some of us who actually prefer the earlier versions, the changes he made weren't so much "improvements" as, well, just that--changes.

For me, none of these images can be seen as superior, rather as variations on a theme.