Monday, December 12, 2011

Simplifying Images With Adobe Photoshop CS5

Simplifying today's image comes from trying to do "something" different from a shoot we did back in April.  We've featured about a half dozen shots here on The Kayview Gallery from that session.  I shoot with a typical Nikon DSLR, so the square format was the first change that was made.  The original image had too much room on the left side and a little confusing detail on the right.  One of the biggest things new shooters need to learn is making good decisions about their photography.  Good decisions when looking through the viewfinder.  Doing most of the composing in the camera.  Rick Sammon runs around with several clich├ęs on how to turn "snapshots into great shots.  One of his axioms is 'the name of the game is fill the frame".  Rick is a good shooter, written a bunch of photography books, but is a little pompous for my taste.  Never the less, he's right about filling the frame.  The nothingness on the left of the original of today's image?  Get rid of it.    The part the fellow in the shot was working on became a maze of shapes on the right.  Get rid of the too.  One of the benefits it gives is that it puts the subject and his hands at two strong points in the composition.  Mentally project the tic-tac-toe grid of "the rule (suggestion) of thirds" on the image and you'll see the fellow's cheekbone and hands now align on the intersections of the upper horizontal line.  They say, if you know the "rules", you can break them.  If you know the "rules" you can also use them.  The "rule of thirds" in particular has come into some derision in recent years, but it's pretty much by those one US Vice President once called "the nattering nabobs of negativism".   The "rule of thirds" came a "rule" because it represents a powerful place to put important components of an image.  To read about other ways used to simplify today's image, hit the "Read More"

Sucking the color out of the image is another way to make it simple.  In the original, the fellow had a blue denim shirt on.  The blue was fairly vibrant, making it attract the viewer's eye.  The skin tone was the next most colorful area of the shot.  If you got past the blue of the shirt, you were attracted to the flesh tones.  The actual "subject" of the image, the fact that he's working on "something" was the least colorful piece of the composition.  You'd have to look through the image to get to the part you were supposed to find first.  Taking the color out makes the viewer really look at the shot to "see" what's going on. 

The third simplification was increasing the contrast.  You can see a lot of detail in the fellow's hair and hat, but not as much in his face or hands.  The objective here was to make the image a little more graphical.  Take a look at his chin line.  You can see just a hint of shading delineating the curve of the jaw.  There's plenty of detail in the shot to define what you're looking at, but not so much that you'd miss the "context" of the image.

The last bit of simplifying the image was adding a little "grain".  Today, in the world of electronic imaging it's called noise.  In the world of the black and white photography it was grain.  You can see that you can't see the grain in the darkest parts of the image.  The grain shows up in the lightest areas, giving just a hint of texture.
If you're a frequent reader of The Kayview Gallery you'll know that most of the images in the past, nearly, four hundred posts are geared toward an in your face style of color.  Every once in a while it's good to explore the other side of things.  Basically, it's the same in real life.