Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No Jedi Zen Here

There's nothing like falling back into what's comfortable. The other day (Monday in fact) I said I wanted to lean toward the subtle colorations found in the images over at Landscapes 2.0. Today I'm feeling a little bit like an addict who's fallen off the wagon, slightly. While the overall effect of today's image is a little more restrained than a typical, full out, in your face, image that the gallery is known for, it certainly can't be called delicate. It does have several elements that "should" please the eye. There's the tree taking up the entire right side of the image, holding the viewer into the shot. There's the strong leading line that brings the eye down to the lower right hand corner with the rocks bright enough to arrest the eye. The "white spot" in the top center of the image isn't white at all in the original, but gives that impression in the less than 200 kB thumbnail used here. The Red Channel pushes up pretty close at about 250. but the Green and Blue Channels run down at the 215 plus or minus level. The net effect is a, sort of, beige tone. To find out about some of the "extras" that made this the image that it is, hit the "read more".

Starting with the Raw file kind of takes a "leap of faith" to think this image is going to go anywhere. It looks rather brown and drab, not a whole lot of color to it. In order to get to a "starting point", the original "original" began life as a three shot HDR composite. One shot "correctly" exposed, one two stops under and one two stops over. In Photomatix Pro it became a "photo realistic" image rather than the heavy, illustrative style that can be made in Photomatix. The "under exposed" shot contributed to the sky and water, while the "over exposed" probably added some detail to shadow areas of the tree and along the shoreline.

This is another shot from our recent trek to Maine. It happens to be Eagle Lake in Acadia National Park. Almost everywhere we went during that long weekend we had warming, graduated, neutral density filters with us. The sky was overcast enough that the chance of ending up with a completely bald sky was a pretty sure bet. This happened to be one of the few times the filter was in its case in the car. Oops! The filter I was using most during the shoots was an Cokin P197 Warming Filter, hand held in front of the lens. The P series Cokin rectangular filters are great for a quick change of the look of an image. We carry several variations in a small Cokin P sized case.

So, what's a guy to do? The image lends itself to the warm, moody feel of a shot taken with something like the P197. As it happens, Photoshop has an adjustment layer called Photo Filter and has three Warming Filters to select from. I bounced through each of the Photo Filters PS has and decided the 81 Warming Filter gave the right feel. As is my typical approach I had the density of each filter cranked up to 100% to show the "over the top" effect of the filter. After zeroing in on the 81 I was able to back off the density to get the right amount dialed in.

Would it have been nice to have remembered the Cokin filters when the shot was taken? Sure. Was it wrong to fudge it with the Photoshop Adjustment Layer? No. It's an "artistic decision, not religion.