Thursday, January 08, 2009
By now, you've probably figured out my modus operandi when it comes to photography - "If there's a way to do it cheaper, why not?" I spent most of last year taking photos with a $200 point and shoot digital camera to see if that camera could compete on an image quality level with the big guns. It can, to a point, but I think that point is pretty high on the quality scale.
Getting more serious about my photography later in the year caused me to collide with the limits of that camera, so I made the jump to a digital SLR. I've used the dSLR for four months and I'm already colliding with the limits of that camera. But that's another story.
Half of digital photography is taking the picture and the other half is making the picture in a photo editing program. IMHO very few digital pictures come right out of the camera ready to be displayed to the world. So which photo editing program do I use? Refer to my modus operandi. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, a $79 package that does a lot of the things that its more robust (and expensive) cousin, Photoshop Creative Suite (minus all the other graphics/design programs that come with it) can do. Or at least that's what I'm trying to prove this year.
I shot a number of images on snowy days over the past couple of weeks, in which I discovered the limits of my dSLR, namely, it doesn't do so well in high-contrast situations, like, oh, let's see ... snowy days. The images that come out of the camera need help. In some cases, the images are beyond help (read purple fringing). Hello, recycle bin.
Anyhoo, over the next several days, I'm going to highlight some of those snowy photos, the good, bad and ugly and some of the actions I took in PSE to adjust those photos, featuring them side by side, "after" image first, then the original "before" image as it emerged from the camera.
Anyone who is not into post processing or does not own PSE can stop reading now. Everyone else, here is how the above image was processed: The image was opened, Select/All (ctrl+A) and copied (ctrl+C). I then went to the Effects menu and chose High Pass (the little gray apple picture if you're using the visual menu), applied it and slid the adjustment slider all the way to the right and clicked OK. I then selected Paste (ctrl+P), which placed the original copied image on a layer on top of the picture I just adjusted. I went to the Layers menu box, clicked on the bar that said "Normal" and selected "Soft Light." Clicking on the two right facing triangles on the right side of the Layers bar brings up a menu. I selected Flatten Image to merge the two layers into a single image.
I then selected Enhance/Adjust Color/Adjust Hue and Saturation and slid the saturation slider to about +35% then hit OK. Then I selected Filter/Adjustments/Photo Filter and selected the violet filter and set the slider to 35% then hit OK.
The photo was pretty much finished at this point, but I played with the levels (Enhance/Adjust Lighting/Levels) a bit, then added the lens flare as an accent (Filter/Render/Lens Flare - 35mm Prime at 50% and moved the crosshair into position and clicked OK).
Working with layers is what set Photoshop apart from the crowd back in the days when digital photo editing was in its infancy. Getting the most out of PSE requires some facility with the Layers menu. So copy and paste some layers in your pictures and play around to see what happens.
Photographs © 2009 James Jordan.