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Showing posts from September, 2018

"Motel"

There was something appealingly spooky about this lonely, closed-for-the-season motel in Lexington, Michigan. To my eye it conjured up visions of Alfred Hitchcock's movie "Psycho".


My goal in processing the photo was to play up the "horror movie" ambiance. I added contrast (with the fine-contrast tool in DxO PhotoLab) to make the image look more stark and create a sense of foreboding. 

I bleached out the color of the sky by partially desaturating the blue and cyan tones. I made the asphalt look blacker by selectively desaturating red tones present in the BEFORE image (while being careful to maintain the red tones in the bricks). And I used a color temperature adjustment to eliminate the strong blue color cast - very obvious in the BEFORE image in the motel sign and siding on the motel. The enhanced whiteness added a lifeless, skeletal feeling to the image.

To create drama I added depth of field by blurring the foreground and background. The blurred foreground draw…

"Beachwalker"

This shot at Ipperwash Beach, Ontario, demonstrates the limitations of your camera's light meter (and also of this photographer!). Most scenes contain areas of widely varying "luminance" (a technical term roughly equivalent to "brightness"). In this shot you have the bright whitecaps and clouds, and the much darker sky, water and sand.

Your eye makes sense of it all, but the light meter only computes the average value of brightness in the scene. So for example when you shoot a snow-covered landscape - a scene dominated by brightness - your camera's "automatic" setting makes the snow look gray. The meter is programmed to set an exposure that brings the average level of light in the scene down to a predetermined level.

I was concerned about the opposite effect here - i.e. that the dominance of dark areas would cause overexposure the light areas - the clouds and whitecaps. So I set the exposure in the BEFORE image a couple of f-stops lower than the met…

"Trailing the 'Indiana Harbor' "

Aboard a small cruise ship exiting the east end of the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, we trailed the Indiana Harbor - at 1000 feet (305 meters) long and 105 feet (32 meters) wide this iron ore/coal carrier is one of the largest ships on the Great Lakes.


I loved the symmetry and color in this composition: the red and green buoys, the ship dead center, the balance between water and sky, the blue of the lake mixed with the color of silt stirred up by the ship's propeller.

The image posed an interesting color-management challenge. The color temperature in the BEFORE shot was unappealing. I didn't like the strong magenta tones in the sky and superstructure of the ship. I adjusted color balance with the eye-dropper tool in DxO PhotoLab, using the white band at the top of the ship's hull as the white reference. 

This worked for the top part of the photo, but I didn't like the resulting color of the water, so I did a separate white balance adjustment for the lower half of t…

"Sailboat"

A sailboat travels the Western Channel opposite the Toronto waterfront on a spring afternoon in 2008. I set my shutter speed to 1.6 seconds to blur the motion of the boat and pointed my wide-angle (24mm) lens slightly downward to fill the bottom two-thirds of the frame with water.


Working with wide-angle lenses is tricky where perspective distortion is concerned. Tilting the lens downward made the buildings in the background of the BEFORE image appear to lean away from the center of the frame. I straightened the image with a perspective correction. 

Perspective corrections force you to crop - in this case, from the bottom and sides of the frame. (When setting up a shot that will require perspective correction, I frame the image with extra space to allow for cropping later.) 

I wanted to brighten the water while preserving contrast between the very bright reflection of the boat and the darker surface of the water. It is usually the case in photoshop that there is more than one way to achi…

'"Football Practice"

Afternoon football practice on a spring day on the Commons in Halifax, Nova Scotia becomes an abstraction of light, color and motion. I set my shutter speed to 1/5 of a second - slow enough to slightly blur the players in motion and fast enough to preserve the contrasting stillness of the people observing the action.



The BEFORE image has a bluish color cast that I removed with a color temperature adjustment of the RAW file. It is also underexposed and the light is flat. I corrected the underexposure in the RAW file and then continued working on the image in photoshop after converting to .tif format.

I used tone curve and fine-contrast adjustments to add contrast and detail. I selectively increased vibrance on some of the uniforms and the helmets to make the image more colorful.

I didn't like the group of four motionless young men at the center-bottom of the frame They distract the eye and add nothing to the image. I felt similarly about the man in the white shirt at the left-hand edg…

"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…