Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bin job ... maybe not?

Carl Heilman's "Advanced digital landscape photography"
Published by ILEX.  ISBN 978-1-905814-86-2
I must admit that I enjoy reading photography books; looking at the photographs of others and learning how the images were taken.  Carl Heilman's Advanced Digital Landscape Photography book is one of the books I'm looking at just now and must admit that there's a few things in here that have me intrigued and inspired to try out.

One of the "tips" Carl provides toward the end of the book are related to Photoshop and how you can make simple tweaks to your images and get some rather nice effects.  Things that may transform a shot sufficiently to change its category from "bin job" to acceptable.  I had a couple of shots taken on a grey day - hard to believe that we get grey days here in NZ I know, but it does happen!  The sky really spoilt the shot and I'd replaced it with one of my spare skies I keep on one side for just this reason.  But what about a gradient fill?  This would be way easier to use.  Nice idea, but I failed at the first hurdle as my version of Photoshop is different to Carl's.  Back to Scott Kelby's book to see what he had to say, and wow!  Even easier!  I could do what I wanted in Adobe Camera Raw and it was trivial.
Scott Kelby's Photoshop CS5 Book
Published by New Riders, ISBN 978-0-321-70356-9
The significant difference between these two books is that I've bought the second one, whereas the first os a library book.  I suppose that says something about my preference?  I'm quite fond of the Scott Kelby book and his style.  What's more he has some rather handy tips and tricks.

So, armed with the idea of a gradient fill in ACR I found one of my shots with a grey sky and gave it a whirl.  Wonderful!  Made a huge difference, but what about a shot that really was a bin job?  Could this be made acceptable with something as simple as a gradient fill?  I looked for a poor shot taken a few weeks ago and played with gradient fill.  I was quite amazed with the amount of detail that existed in the RAW file, and whilst not a marvellous shot, certainly gives a good impression of what can be retrieved from something I'd have previously consigned to the bin!  The trick really is to get it right when you press the shutter release, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that there's a lot that can be done in the digital darkroom to resurrect a poor shot.
Oops!  Way over exposed and very washed out shot of the old Council Building in Manukau City
Same shot, but with a couple of gradient fills added in ACR.

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