Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Exercise: Improvement or interpretation?

This exercise looks at using ‘darkroom’ style simple adjustments to images to emphasise a person within an image. I have chosen a photograph of my son in difficult conditions – he is in the shade and there is bright background behind. In order not to overexpose the background he is underexposed in the foreground.
Original unedited image
So I need to make a selection of him, in this case using Lightroom’s masking tool. I used a brush with a wide feather and then refined it afterwards using the ‘erase mask’ tool. I applied an increase in exposure of 1.14 for the part of my son in the shade.
Child selected using the mask tool in Lightroom (red highlight)
The result is below, and he is clearly more obvious now.
Exposure increased by 1.14 stops only on mask area
I then painted a mask over the goat which is also very dark in the foreground. I applied a +2 exposure and a +60 noise reduction to counter the increased noise on the animal’s dark fur.
Goat selection
The result is below and I think it is more balanced now. I think in retrospect I should have exposed for the boy in the foreground and let the background blow out.
Increased exposure and noise reduction over the goat
Finally I cropped the image.
Final cropped image
The above procedure could be replicated in Photoshop using slightly different tools.

The above is simply like dodging and burning in a darkroom. I think it’s quite a reasonable thing to do to an image, though of course it would be preferable to get it right in camera, but it is simply not always possible, and images need to be rescued sometimes. I think this time of adjustment is fine because we are simply adjusting exposure really, and it is really very similar to adding flash or lights or simply choosing different exposures of an image. I can’t really think of how extreme this could go, and how this could not be also done with flash or other selective lighting. 

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