Over the top Post-processing

Going overboard with post-processing can be educational. How else do you learn what the myriad of options do? It also leads to interesting images.

I’m cleaning up my photo data base (all 254,176 files as of today). In the process, I came across this image which jumped off the screen and caught my eye.

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Hemlock Springs Overlook, Shenandoah National Park

Early spring last year

Made with a point & shoot – weather & footing forced me to ditch the D800E & tripod

5-22-2011 7-31-40 AM

Basic post-process left-to-right:

  • As captured
  • B&W conversion using the Silver Efex Pro 2 Film Noir 1 preset; < 1 minute
  • Blend the B&W with the capture using Photoshop’s luminosity blend mode
  • Total processing time – less than 3 minutes
    • Afterwards used Color Efex Pro’s Lighten/Darken filter to remove the skyline and call more attention to the wildflower; the rest of the image is framing
    • Don’t recall how I did the cracked texture effect 😦
  • Get it right in the camera and most of your work is done
    • Certainly the most important part is

The most important part – Composition:

  • Wildflower anchors image and provides foreground interest & depth perspective
  • Mid-ground – A green triangle formed by the steep sloping mountain plus a tree in the form of a dark green ball framing the left side of the image. If you think of a scene as composed of design elements such as shapes, lines & textures – and not grass & trees in this case – your visual design, i.e. composition, becomes easier.
  • Misty woods in background for a third layer – depth, atmosphere, mood
  • Avoiding overlap between the flower & tree is important.

To avoid the common problem of including too much in your image, ask yourself – what attracted me to this scene? Then do all that you can to eliminate everything that doesn’t add to your initial vision and remember – if it doesn’t add then it detracts. You’re done when the next thing you remove from the scene in your viewfinder makes the composition worse – and not before.

  • For example, the flower and tree attracted me but I decided that I didn’t need the whole tree to tell the story. Also I cropped (in camera, nothing was added/removed in post) to leave just enough of the hillside and mist shrouded trees in the background to complete the story of where my flower and tree were.

  • Think hard about what is the best camera orientation. I  recommend always doing both vertical & horizontal – even if one doesn’t seem to make sense. This scene, to my eye, screamed vertical for the composition I wanted, but I’ll bet that most would have made it a landscape oriented shot (force of habit mostly).


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