Skip to main content

Welcome to "The After-image" - a blog about digital image editing

"Taking" photographs is easy. Making photographs is hard, but worth the effort. Through examples from my own work I want to show you that the image captured by your camera and stored on your memory card is just one piece in the larger puzzle of producing a photograph worth looking at.

"The After-image" illustrates the "before" and the "after" of digital image editing. It isn't a "how-to" with step-by-step instructions on transforming the RAW image into a finished product. That would be like trying to write instructions on how to tie your shoes! Instead, I illustrate what can be accomplished by showing BEFORE and AFTER images from my own work. Each post features an untouched BEFORE image direct from the memory card followed by the AFTER finished piece. (I also provide brief comments on the main issues I faced in working on the image and how, in a general sense, I tried to deal with them.)

I hope this will inspire you to invest time and effort in learning how to produce your own masterpieces! 

Notice I referred to "RAW" image. People serious about photography understand the importance of "shooting RAW" rather than having their camera automatically convert images to the jpeg format. These posts are written on the assumption that you will be shooting RAW.

Don't get me wrong. The jpeg format is great for certain purposes. If you're taking snapshots, want to quickly post photos to social media, aren't obsessive about the quality of your photographs and don't want to deal with anything other than the simplest image editing software, then jpeg is for you. 

But if you want to produce pieces worthy of hanging on a wall then RAW is your best choice. You will have maximum flexibility of manipulate your images - adjusting for exposure, dynamic range, sharpness, etc. - and in many cases will be able to rescue images from sub-optimal camera settings (e.g. under- or over-exposure) in place when you clicked the shutter.

(On the other hand, in jpeg mode the camera throws away much of the data captured by the sensor and "bakes" settings into the image that affect how it will appear. You can't undo those settings - just as you can't un-bake a cake!)

Shooting RAW means working with photo editing software. I assume you have working knowledge of Photoshop, which I use in all my image editing. (I also use DxO PhotoLab - which does a great job of the first stage of the photo editing process where the RAW image is converted to a more widely accessible format like .psd or .tif or .jpg. Photoshop does this too - just not as well, in my view.)

I have been working in digital photography for about 14 years. I am self-taught, and still learning. Digital photography is perfectly suited to self-teaching. Mistakes don't create wasted film, paper and chemicals. You get immediate feedback from your your camera. And when you edit you can't ruin anything because you can always go back to the original image. So have fun, experiment, don't be afraid!

mark@luxetveritas.ca  

www.luxetveritas.net

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"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 tones in the water, l…

"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…

"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 tone-curve adjust…