Friday, October 26, 2012

The Fantasy Of Photoshop And Lightroom

Today's image is real.  No HDR, no trickery.  Just being at the right place at the right time.  That doesn't mean there was no burning, dodging, tweaking, pushing and pulling in Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6) and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4).  The image is processed.  Since it was taken as a RAW file (an NEF Nikon image) it had to be developed.  I just finished watching a PBS show about Ansel Adams.  Part of it discussed the fact that he could spend an entire day in the darkroom working on a single print.  We have a luxury Adams didn't have but would certainly have used.  His first pass was probably a general print with no messing around.  He'd probably look at it and make an estimate of what needed to be done.  He'd translate it to the vision of what he saw, the emotion he felt, the soul of what was there.  What he didn't do was take the image as shot and print it.  Done.  Finished.  He worked at his post processing as much as at capturing the scene in the camera.  He was (still is) the master craftsman of photography.  Okay, I'm not the second coming of Ansel Adams.  I'm just one of the common ruck.  Taking pictures and having the great good fortune of living in the era of the digital darkroom.  Each pass at an image by Adams meant blindly doing all the work we can do in the light and starting over with each trial.  By the time he would have gotten to attempt four, or six, or eleven he would have developed a recipe.  Dodge this, burn that, double burn in that little spot, Hold back the sky, deepen the foreground and on and on.  All this and not being sure of what you'd get until the paper went into the developer and the image would blossom into its full glory.  Boy, do we have it easy.  We get to see what's going on as we develop the image.  Oh, that made it look better.  Opps, that made it look worse.  Hit CTRL Z and the misstep is gone.  No waiting twenty minutes (between going through other twists and turns and getting the paper into the developer) and then realizing you'd screwed up.  Adams would have loved Photoshop.  He was "photoshopping" images before Photoshop was ever thought of.  To find out about what was done to today's image, Hit the "Read More".

Today's image is another one that never had to take a trip from LR4 (or it could have been ACR) to CS6.  It just wasn't needed.  The shot was taken as part of a group, but the bracketed group was for selection rather than HDR.  The single shot used in this case was down at a -2 1/3 EV (Exposure Value).  That means the selection used was 2 1/3 stops underexposed compared to what the camera's metering system determined was a "proper" exposure.  The reason that setting worked was the fact that the metering system took the landmass (in deep shadow) into the equation and was trying to make a very "average" exposure.  Not what I was looking for.

The first adjustment in LR4 was the Gradient Tool.  It was brought up (using the Shift Key to keep it straight) from the bottom and the Exposure Slider moved slightly to the positive side to open up the water in front of the island.

An Adjustment Brush Pin was dropped on the landmass and, again, the Exposure Slider was moved to a positive number.  In fact, several pins were placed on the landmass to put emphasis on specific spots (primarily on the rocks).  Another set of Pins were dropped on the house and lighthouse.

The color that was "tweaked" isn't the one you might think.  The blue and aqua were brought up in both Saturation and Luminance to give a hint of the coming day.
One of the keys to getting a shot like today's image is being there.  The only time you can get a sunrise shot is (ya wanna guess?) at sunrise.  That means being at the site before the sun even gives a suggestion that a new day is about to dawn.  Lose a little sleep, get an interesting image.  No problem.