Thursday, 8 July 2010

Digital Photographic Practice 1: Exercise 12 Managing Tone

For this exercise I chose this image – developed here from RAW at default settings in Olympus Studio.
It is something of a surreal landscape from Hverarond in Iceland. Te colours are natural, and a result of the geothermal activity in the area. It was a very cloudy day, and there was quite a lot of steam blowing around so overall contrast was low.
The two people in the background were wearing very dark trousers – to all intents and purposes black, but there is little or no pure white in the shot, and nowhere obvious to do a white balance, so in Photoshop Elements colour balance is a matter of personal choice.

Next up is the post processed jpeg.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The black and white points were set manually using the Levels window. Final settings were 15 for the black point, and 184 for the white point. I then lifted the mid-tones by moving the centre slider to 1.20. I followed this, as is my general practise with an Unsharp mask adjustment of 20%/100pixels and finally applied a simple Sharpen which worked reasonably well on this image as there are no obvious places for haloes or other sharpening artefacts to intrude.
I also tried, and rejected, a simple auto levels. This produced a much too contrasty image for my personal tastes, rendering the pale grey areas almost white and the blue-grey areas almost black.

The next version was corrected in Olympus Studio before conversion to a jpeg.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
First I adjusted the colour temperature to Cloudy (6000K) and added some additional red. This has the effect of making the ochre colour of the clays rather less marked, and increasing the blue in the mud deposits. I then brightened the picture overall (by 0.4EV).
At this stage I then pulled in the black and white points on the curve control and lifted the curve in the bottom half to lighten the darker tones.iceland settings

The end result is an image which is fairly faithful to the scene as I recall it.

Finally I did some further optimisation in Elements – in particular the Unsharp mask adjustment I described above and a Sharpen to give this result which has a little more punch.

The differences between these outputs are fairly subtle, but yet again the RAW software gives just that little bit more control. There as also a certain amount of personal choice involved in establishing some of the settings. All of these pictures are legitimate interpretations of the original - I happen to prefer the last one.

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