Skip to main content

"Two People"


A young couple, the woman with arms crossed, neither person looking at the other, strides across a lawn on the Toronto waterfront in 2008. Their shadows trail behind and an abandoned grain elevator, screened by four small trees, dominates the background. The ingredients are in place for a thought-provoking photograph, but there is work to be done.



The BEFORE image is tilting to the left. This is easily corrected.

Straightening the image forces me to crop it, which is fine because there's too much empty foreground in the BEFORE shot. I want the two people and - just as important - their shadows to be more prominent. So I crop the image even more, from the bottom.

I want to create a mood - or rather, enhance a mood I see as being already present in the initial image. I see two people looking disconnected and uncommunicative. (Was that the real story? Who knows? It doesn't matter!) The grain elevator, now appearing larger after I cropped the image, hovers over the scene. The trees, though colorful, look frail and scrawny.  The two shadows loom large. 

Although it's sunny and there's plenty of light, I sense a mood of darkness and menace. To build this up I heighten contrast throughout. I darken the two human shadows a little. I make the grain elevator look stark and ghostly by selectively desaturating the yellows and reds. (When doing this I am careful not to lose the yellows and reds in the foliage. The layer mask in Photoshop, and some careful work with the eraser tool, allow me to do this.)

I also do tone curve adjustments on the bodies of the two people to bring out detail lost in the BEFORE image.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"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 i

"Boat Tour"

On a boat tour of Western Brook Pond in western Newfoundland two women focused on the spectacular scenery while I focused on them. The pastel colors of their windbreakers contrasted with each other and with the natural tones of the land, water and sky. The image tells a strong, simple story: two people awestruck by 600 meter (2000 foot) cliffs towering over a remote, pristine lake. This image required less work than many of the others featured in this blog. It's a good example of how even relatively modest adjustments can transform a photograph from merely "interesting" to "worthy of displaying". I wanted to separate the women from the landscape - make each part of the image stand out in its own right. I was taken by the colors and textures of the jackets so I increased vibrancy a little to bring out the color and used  fine-contrast and tone curve adjustments to  highlight the fabric's folds and shadows. I added drama to the background through t

"Tulips"

Tulips on a white kitchen table with soft natural light from a north-facing window - excellent potential for a still-life photograph. As I did with the image in yesterday's post, I broke this image into two pieces, worked on them separately, and then blended the two pieces back together. As you can easily guess, the two pieces were "the tulips" and "everything else". The key was to make the tulips shine (literally!) and to separate them from the rest of the frame. I used exposure and tone curve adjustments brighten the tulips and add contrast. I used fine-contrast adjustments to bring out detail in the leaves and flowers.  I added a bit of vibrancy to the tulips to accentuate the contrast between the colorfulness of the flowers and the grayscale tones of everything else in the frame. The background was already slightly blurred in the BEFORE image, and I softened the focus further with fine-contrast adjustments. I also used a tone curve adjustment t