Skip to main content

"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 viewer's eye to the wall. It also de-emphasizes distracting elements like the the buildings across the street, and the parked cars.

After these steps I was still bothered by the lingering distraction of the parked car on the left side of the street under the white awning. So step three was to remove the car by  cloning. Some fussy, close-up detail work was required to make the result of the clone look believable.

These three steps gave the image a basic structure I was happy with. But there was still work to be done.

I removed the blue color cast from the white-brick wall, and applied a perspective correction to straighten the lines of the building. (Notice how the roof line tilts up to the right in the BEFORE image.) I also bumped up the vibrancy of the Cola-Cola sign a little. And I did fine contrast and tone curve adjustments on the wall to enhance the texture of the brick and brightness of the wall.

I removed the red color cast from the asphalt - I like asphalt to look black and white lines to look white!

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