Friday, March 7, 2014

Day 54, Learning 54: Revisit Old Photos to Make New

Whoa Nelly, barely posting this one under the deadline.  No promises for tomorrow.  I'm shooting a lovely and talented jazz singer named Mariana Desoto Hughes in San Jose, which will take most of the day.

Today's learning came by accident.  I was responding to an inquiry about a landscape and architectural job, and discovered that I wasn't pleased with the samples I had to show her (actually, I was too lazy to pull out the old hard drive and hunt around for some of them).  I was looking through the images I had at my fingertips, and started fiddling with a couple of oldies.  Here's the odd thing: when you improve in photography there's the taking of the image-- which can never be altered-- and the development of the image-- with which you can experiment with your new found skills.  Here's the original of the image above:

Correctly exposed but kinda blah, right?  It's taken in southern China.  The day was overcast (as were nearly all the days I was there) making the colors and contrast dull.  In the midst of beautiful landscape, I was struggling to create a memorable image.  I won't kid you; my highly edited one above is nothing like it was that day or in my memory.  This is an entirely fictional depiction, but far more interesting.

So the first learning is "revisit your old photos."  There are diamonds in the rough.  For a more novel/helpful post I'll explain the sun beam:

  1. Duplicate your layer!
  2. Use the Lasso tool and create the shape of the sun beam.
  3. With the area selected, create a Curves Layer. 
  4. Increase the exposure by dragging the center point up and to the right
  5. Return to Layers and add a Gaussian blur to the mask. Set it between 10 and 50
  6. Click on your image layer again
  7. Use the Lasso tool to create a smaller version of the sun beam inside the original sunbeam
  8. Repeat the steps above-- this will create a brighter center to the beam.
  9. I painted over the branches so they wouldn't be effected by the beam....
Other things I did were clone out the faint flags in the middle, increase the contrast by duplicating the layer and setting the Blend mode to Multiply, pumping up the yellow, adding a few new roots (using the clone tool), and dodging and burning.

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