Thursday, December 4, 2014

What "Makes" An Image Using Lightroom

Click image to enlarge.
Today's image is a Cyanotype of a night shot at Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park in Maine.  The big question is what "makes" the image.  If you look at the books you'll see that, for a landscape, you should have a foreground, a middle and a background in order to create the depth of a three dimensional place on a two dimensional platform (the paper).  We have the rocks and sand providing the foreground interest.  "The Bubbles" (the two hills) as a middle ground and the Big Dipper (in the sky) as the background.  Without any of the three there would be no "picture".  But, none of them are what "makes" the image.  To find out what I consider to be the most important piece of the image, hit the "Read More".

For me there isn't enough of any of the big three to make the image something I'd want to spend more than a nanosecond looking at.  Again, to me, the intriguing part of the image is the grasses just beyond the rocks in the close by foreground.  Without them you'd have a formulaic, cookie cutter stamped shot of Jordon Pond at night. 

This sort of goes back to the simplicity of Japanese art I discussed a couple posts ago.  Breaking down the image there's three fairly blocky parts.  The rocks, the hills and the sky.  There's not much detail in any of them.  It's when the slender grasses are introduced that the composition takes on a little life. 

The grasses got there in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR).  The sky was given a lot of negative Clarity and the maximum Highlights value possible.  It was a dance between touching the Exposure gently down and pushing the Highlights up as hard as possible. This is somewhat counter intuitive to a more typical method of sinking the Highlights and driving the Shadows Slider higher.  Because I was working on the sky only the work was done using the Adjustment Brush. 

On the opposite end the rocks were brought up out of the Shadows and brought down for the Clarity, Sharpness, Noise and Contrast.  Otherwise they would have overpowered the image.  It's sort of like the shoes in a full length portrait.  Nobody gives a rats ass about them as long as they're there.  (Unless you're advertising the shoe manufacturer.)

The grasses are the grasses and are a couple of pixels wide.  They'll be there no matter what you do to the water.  So, the water (which was soft already due to the long exposure) was give some negative Clarity.  This was more to remove any remaining noise rather than to soften the water.

The last step was to give the entire image a cyanotype coloring representing the blue of the night sky.  It's a simple composition but one that gives a feeling of a peaceful spot.  Other than the couple making out on the rocks nearby, it was a rather still evening.