Thursday, June 13, 2013

Remembering life before Photoshop

Yesterday we were photographing with a model by a stream with very bright and harsh, afternoon light. In the days of film, I would never choose to photograph at that time of day and under those lighting conditions because in those days there was not post-processing tools available for correcting the images.  On top of that, the dynamic range of film was severely limiting resulting it blown highlights and black shadows. Necessity being the mother of convention, I did have to improvise techniques for dealing with the situations.  I combined amber and D color correction filters to mimic sunset.  I put all manner of transparent articles in front of the lens to create softening blurs and a misty look.  Today, all of these tools are readily available in Photoshop.  I tossed out a 12" stack of correcting lens filters years ago.

In the original scene below the light is blotchy and uninteresting. Furthermore, I was creating an image for stock use and wanted to have some neutral areas in the frame where a designer could easily place some type without an interfering background. Fortunately, the camera's dynamic range provided me with the necessary detail to handle the shadows and highlights.

After a modest amount of work in Photoshop the image I ended up with the version below -- much brighter, more emphasis on the woman, lots of room for type placement, and a sunset glow.

I didn't do this to all of the images from this scene.  The original scene with its green coloring is also lends itself to a more natural look. So in the shot below I enhanced the green and dealt with the blown highlights. Only the extreme dynamic range of a modern, professional digital camera is capable of capturing such a wide range of detail on a day with such extreme light.

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