This exploration begins with the resulting final image from my previous post. As way of review, this image began as a wonderful snapshot with me cropping the image for composition, removing a few unwanted elements, and generally adding some “pop” and “depth” to create the final.
The images below are variations of the final image above. They were created by using plugins and presets in Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop. The black and white image, Variation 9, was created using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro plugin for Photoshop. The other variations, Variation 1 thru 7, were created using a mix of purchased, tweaked, and custom presets in Lightroom. I added a vignette to some while others not. All images ended with a final pass through Photoshop for sharpening.
Each of the images below have a different look and invoke a different felling. As variations on a theme, they each represent a different interpretation of a common subject. The range and palette of expression and creativity is limitless. There are no rights or wrongs. There is only process. Enjoy!!
With the above in mind, I thought it would be fun to walk though an example of my process and detail my thoughts and some of the tools I use. For an image, I wanted to use one that I did not capture myself. My neighbor just happened to have a wonderful snapshot of his daughter laying on the beach. This image is a typical snapshot but, to my eye, there was more to it than just a nice family snapshot.
The subject matter of this image is wonderfully playful and there is a lot of separation between the subject and both the foreground and the background. The main issues for me with the image and the ones that make it “just” a snapshot are as follows:
- The subject is dead center frame.
- There is a foot in the sand to the left.
- There is a purple beach towel in the sand on the right.
- There is a general lack of contrast in the image.
- The subjects eyes are a little dark.
- The image is soft and the subject slightly out of focus.
With these issues in mind, the first stop in my the digital darkroom is Adobe’s Lightroom. Normally, I use Lightroom to process RAW images. Lightroom, however, can also be used with JPEG images and, in fact, contains tools that make certain tasks easier to perform than in other applications.
For this image, I ran it through Lightroom to do two things. The first and easiest was to crop the image keeping the same aspect ratio as the original. When cropping the image, though, I did not keep the subject dead center. I cropped the image with the subject further to the left. This makes for a more interesting composition. Cropping the image also had the benefit of removing the foot in the sand to the left of the subject. The second task I used Lightroom for was to brighten the subject’s eyes. For this, I used a local adjustment brush to both brighten and add clarity to the eyes.
From Lightroom, I took the image into Adobe’s Photoshop. This is where the rubber meets the road. I performed the bulk of the work in Photoshop beginning with cleaning up a few unwanted elements in the image. The Photoshop tool used for this is healing tool. What did I remove? I got rid of the purple beach towel in the sand on the right of the subject, as well as a few large gains of sand around the subjects mouth.
The image is really starting to come along. Still, there is a general lack of contrast and definition. To address this, I used a Photoshop filter called Viveza 2 from Nik Software. Viveza 2 allows one to add control points in an image to selectively affect elements for any pixels of a similar color, hue, or brightness. For this image, I laid in five control points, as follows:
- Point 1 (Sky): Darkened the sky. Added saturation.
- Point 2 (Sand): Brightened the sand. Added contrast and structure.
- Point 3 (Skin): Brightened the subjects skin.
- Point 4 (Bathing Suit): Brightened the pink. Added saturation.
- Point 5 (Hair): Brightened the hair. Added structure.
The image is almost there. Playing around with the sky and the subject’s skin, however, created a halo effect around the subjects foot. The fix for that, was a quick pass in Photoshop using the smudge tool to blur and blend the halo effect into the surrounding pixels.
The final step is to sharpen the image. This is probably the most subjective aspect of working an image (along with color) and is dependent on how it will be output. For this example, I sharpened the image for the screen only. The tool I used was Photoshop’s smart sharpen filter.
Forget what the original image looked like? Here it is below. The final image is no longer flat. The final image pops and has greater structure, while the subject’s eyes draw your focus. With the subject off center, the image’s composition is much more interesting.
There it is... From original to final, my process for working an image creatively. As I said above, though, there are no rights or wrongs. There is only the process. This is just my interpretation for this image. If I have done my job well, others will find this image appealing as well.
To see the full set of 25 artistically worked images, please stop by my Smugmug site. To get there, just click here. Oh... Team Arsenal won. Final score was 3 to 2.
The image presented here and its variations are an example of this expression and creativity. The shot is simple… An on location portrait at a poolside birthday party over the summer. The first version is, for the most part, straight out of the camera. The versions that follow are worked and processed, each uniquely different from the other.
Out of Camera
Added Contrast & Rich Black Tones
Reduced Contrast with Enhanced Whites and Light Tones
Desaturated Colors with Red Tones
Classic Black and White
The vast majority of images from these slideshows were shot with a Canon 40D and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens. Depending on the soccer field, sometimes I used a Canon 1.4x EF Extender. Capturing between 700 and 1000 images per soccer game, I normally only process the images to “proof” quality using Adobe’s Lightroom. For these slideshows, I used an online service called Animoto.
With all the specifics out of the way... I hope you enjoy the following slideshows from Team Revolution’s 2008 Season!!