Monday, December 07, 2009

Bordering on winter

Bearing the weight of winter
I'm usually not one to add borders or any other decorative elements to my pictures. I like to let the image stand on its own. But because of the white background of both this photo and the blog page, I decided to add a drop shadow to help define the photo's boundaries.

It also seems like we in the upper Midwestern US will cross the boundary into winter this week. Snow is in the forecast. Brace yourselves. Here we go again.

Have you ever thought you've figured out how to do something, then picked up some new information that makes you wonder how you ever did the things you thought you had figured out in the first place? I picked up a piece of Photoshop wisdom that has pretty much revolutionized how I do my post processing. Two pieces, actually, but I'll only cover one for now.

When adjusting levels, holding down the ALT key (on a PC -- I believe it's the Control key on a Mac) while moving the left and right sliders shows how much pure black or pure white is in your image. That made it very easy to know when the background of the photo above was sufficiently adjusted to white without adversely affecting anything else. Conversely, the combo of ALT plus the black slider helped me know when the pine needles and cones had maximum amount of definition without overdoing it. The result is an image with a very tasty amount of contrast

Up until now, I kept the sliders at the edges of where the histogram began to show image data. Visualizing the blacks and whites allows you compress the tonal range and add punch to any image. The above photo looks like it was taken in a studio under controlled lighting. In reality, it was taken outdoors on an overcast day following an overnight snowfall.

Photograph © 2009 James Jordan.

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