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

"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

"Tablelands"

The tablelands of western Newfoundland are a rare geological formation - a piece of the earth's mantle, normally buried seven or more kilometers beneath the earth's crust, but forced to the surface here several hundred million years ago. The area lacks the usual nutrients required to sustain most plant life, and so is nearly barren. The high iron content of the rock accounts for the rusty brownish color. In the BEFORE image the sky is correctly exposed but everything else is badly underexposed. This was fixed with an exposure correction in the RAW image.  The BEOFRE image has a slightly bluish color cast which was fixed with a color temperature correction. After making those global adjustments, I worked separately on four sections of the image: the sky, the land in the upper part of the frame, the creek, and the large rock that dominates the lower right-hand corner.  The overall plan was to bring out the textures and contrast in the rocks, maintain the darker ton

"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 lea