Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Creation of a Photograph

Sometimes people ask me 'Do you photoshop your pictures?'. I give them always the same answer 'Yes my photos are photoshoped, my vision often requires me to'. Heavy words, I know, but let me illustrate what I mean with the following example.


This was a shot I took over the weekend. At first I took it as a test to see where I could plant my tripod to get a simple frame of this tree, with as little distraction to the viewer as possible. Framing this shot required some stretching over barbed wire as the shot above illustrates. Framing a shot like this would have been almost impossible (I could have jumped the fence of course) without the live view function on the 5DmkII. One of the reasons I bought this camera for. It sure beats doing gymnastics to look through the viewfinder.


This was the shot as it came almost straight out of the camera. I applied some simple basic tweaks like exposure, black point, definition, saturation and vibrancy and I cropped it in a square format.


I then pulled it into Photoshop and converted it into a black and white image. As you can see, still nothing fancy. I am an Aperture user. Sometimes for black and white conversions I use Nik Silver Efex or I just use the standard Aperture black and white tool. It all depends on what shot it is or what look I am after.


I added some contrast with the curves tool keeping a close eye on the histogram of the shot. I like dramatic shots and often I tend to go over the top a little. As you notice now, the trees in the background are becoming very distracting. And the snow in the foreground is not white enough to my taste.


My solution for this was good old dodging. Look at it now. The tree is starting to stand out a lot more. I dodged the right side of the tree stem and some areas in the crown. At the end of the day I ended up with this in my layers palette.


I then saved the file in Photoshop and Aperture automatically refreshed the PSD file for me. The only thing I did then in Aperture was to apply some sharpening and adding a heavy vignette.
The final image looked like this. A very simple image that I like.