Skip to main content

"Steeple"


It's a fall day in rural eastern Ontario and a stark white church steeple seems to rise dreamlike out of a cornfield . The scene reminded me of the poet Matthew Arnold's "dreaming spires" in Oxford, England.


I split the image into two parts - 1) the church; 2) everything else - and worked on them separately.

In the "everything else" part, exposure correction was the first order of business. I had set the camera to an exposure preserving highlight details in the church but underexposing the rest of the image, so I fixed this.

I shot with a long lens (200mm) wide open (f/4) which resulted in significant vignetting (darkening around the edges of the frame). But instead of correcting for this (which I would normally do) I chose in this case to enhance the vignetting to add to the dreamy mood I wanted to create.

The foreground and background were already blurred from the lens being wide open, and I softened the focus even more with fine-contrast adjustments.

I added contrast to the cornfield and sky with tone curve adjustments. I reduced the color cast in the sky by partly desaturating the blue and cyan tones. 

I cloned out the tree tops at the line where the cornfield meets the sky. (These were barely visible in the dark BEFORE image but became distracting after I fixed the exposure.)

As for the "church" part of the image, all I had to do was brighten it slightly. In trying to avoid washing out highlight details when taking the photo I had been too careful and so even the church was underexposed.

I then combined the two parts of the image into one, being careful to blend the church seamlessly into the rest of the frame. I cropped from the bottom to change the cornfield- to-sky ratio and bring the church a little closer to the center.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Autumn"

The "autumn colors" image is one of the all-time great photographic clich├ęs, but that doesn't mean a serious photographer should avoid it. There is plenty of scope to do interesting things and have fun with photos shot when the leaves turn yellow, orange and red in the fall. I love yellow so am especially fond of birch trees in the fall - the contrast of the leaves against the white bark is a sight to behold!



The other thing I love about birch trees is that the branches often veer off in crazy-looking directions and angles, as in this photo. It makes for a dreamy, surreal feeling I associate with Vincent van Gogh's landscapes.

I shot this photo late in the afternoon on a dull day, so the ambient light was uninspiring. I used exposure and tone curve adjustments to compensate for that. I also used fine contrast adjustments to bring out detail in the leaves and tree trunk.

To accentuate the elements of most interest to me - the white bark and the yellow leaves - I darkened…

"Bog"

There's a beautiful peat bog at the eastern edge of my home city of Ottawa that I visit often. On this day the bulrushes were swaying in a westerly wind and the scene was lit by the low-angled autumn sun.

To capture the motion of the windswept bulrushes I set a shutter speed of 1/4 second. The trees in the background were relatively motionless but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't capture them in sharp focus with the slow shutter speed. This mattered because I wanted to contrast the blur of the bulrushes with the sharp stillness of the trees.

Maybe the elevated boardwalk I stood on was vibrating slightly. Who knows? Point was, I needed an easy solution.



I took a second exposure (not shown here) at a fast shutter speed to freeze the trees. In photoshop I combined the top part of the the fast-shutter image with the bottom part of the slow-shutter image.

I had used a neutral density filter for the slow-shutter image, and removed the filter for the fast-shutter image. As a result,…

"Business District"

There are many ways to look at a photograph, and no guarantee that the viewer will see it as I would like him or her to see it. My goal when editing is to compel the viewer to see the image in the way that I want him/her to see it. 

In the case of this photo, shot in Two Harbors, Minnesota, I wanted the viewer to focus on  a) the painted brick wall with the Coca-Cola sign and b) the width of the streets. Both, to my mind, are emblematic of small towns in the US and Canada. 


I did three things to emphasize these two elements of the image (and, at the same time, de-emphasize other elements I did not want to be foremost in viewer's sight). 

First, and most simply, I cropped. In the AFTER image the crop made the white-brick wall and the asphalt much more prominent.

Second, I added vignetting - graduated darkening and blurring around the edges of the frame. I put the white-brick wall at the center of the vignetting effect - the area with no darkening or blurring. This immediately draws the…