Photography is not just taking pictures with your camera or phone and accepting the results created by the camera manufacturer’s software! Most of those images, as good as they may appear to you, will not pass muster in a photographic competition. That requires a bit of technical skill in post processing. The great master’s of photography have all spent time in the darkroom manipulating the image to achieve a result that is greater than the original image captured by the film. Although there are many people who like to think that using or manipulating the image via software is close to sinful, from what I’ve seen of their work, they are incorrect.
These days, software has replaced the enlarger and chemicals found in a traditional darkroom. The software you choose to use determines the result for your final product. The 2 I have chosen to use at various times are Adobe Photoshop and Gimp. Both are very good programs and each has an advantage over the other. Photoshop’s biggest advantage is that it uses the same terms I learned to use in a chemical darkroom, many years ago, so my learning curve was short. Gimp’s biggest advantage is its price, it is hard to beat free.
This image looks fairly decent and most people would not have any objections to posting it. I find it flat, uninteresting and it is clearly not the image I was seeing when I chose to pick up my phone and record it. But to the manufacturer of my phone and the creator of the software that runs the camera this is what they feel is the best treatment for the image. I am not stuck with having an image I don’t like, because in post processing, I can manipulate this image to recreate what my mind saw at the time.
This is how I envisioned the scene. It has much more impact and it only took a few simple steps in Adobe Photoshop to get from the original to this image. The steps involved were using a vibrance layer and curves to force the algorithms in the software to adjust the values in the image. To do this in a chemical darkroom would have involved burning and dodging the image and possibly adjusting the enlarger’s exposure such that I would have the time to do the dodging and burning for an overall time of about an hour to get it right. Using Photoshop the manipulation took about a minute.
This is an image straight out of the camera. Once again, the manufacturer and the software creator chose the algorithms to create an image the average viewer would find appealing. I am not an average viewer and I would hope that most of the people who view my site are above average. It has essentially no impact!
A bit of masking followed by making some level and curves adjustment in Photoshop and the impact has been greatly enhanced. The car now looks as white as I remember it to be and the sky no longer is a boring shade of blue! Overall time in Photoshop was less than 2 minutes, but to do this one in a chemical darkroom would be almost an hour.
If you want to learn these basic manipulations or some of the more extreme ones I enjoy, I am available to teach locally or if travel expenses are paid, anywhere.
- $30/hour locally
- Travel Expenses paid in full (room, food, and method of transportation, etc.) for non local