Saturday, 14 April 2007

Refinement and selective editting

George Barr and Uwe Steinmuller (over at Digital Outback Photo) have been writing a lot recently on the importance of selective editting and refinement of images. I've been a fan of selective editting for quite a while - seems to be one of the key benefits of working digitally: one can tweak each area to get the best possible shot. despite that, the majority of my owrk still uses global adjustments.
Barr takes it almost to extremes, working over long periods of time and with very small adjustments to optimise pictures to his vision.
The shot above seemed an ideal opportunity to use the ideas that Barr promotes to take my work a bit further than i might otherwise do. Picture at top is the original from the camera with minimum RAW conversion in Lightzone and a little sharpening. I took the shot with a square format in mind and below is what I'd originally envisaged.

Clearly not a very good picture - sky grossly over-exposed (I was having trouble all day with that), flat looking shot and los of foreground details. This was using a fairly standard set of adjustments - colour balance, curves for black-point and midtone contrats and some micro-contrast. Not very inspiring.

I then got to work further, developing differnt areas and adding several adjustment layers to the mix. Some of the things I did:
Selective colour adjustment on the sunlit patch of ground
Several levels adjustments the enhance contrast on fore, middle and background elements
Selective enhancement of the main tree together with saturation lowering on the secondary elements

There's also micro and macro contrast adjustment, some noise reduction and regular sharpening. Overall 20-30 adjustments. This is the result:

Fallen tree, Stourhead, April 2007

Something I'm much happier with and in line with my original vision.

I also did some work to produce a basic B&W interpretation:

Whilst not optimal, that approach also has some merit in this case.

I think I'll be looking for more opportunity and putting more effort into developments, especially if I intend to produce prints from the image.

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