Tag Archives: dodge and burn

The Potential of This Photograph is Awesome

Last week we started off with a picture of a strange-looking flower blooming off the side of a palm tree. The starting unfiltered picture is typical of what you find on the Internet. It’s certainly not a bad picture per se, but it does have issues that we will need to contend with before one can look at it and unabashedly call it a work of art.

What is the potential?
What is the potential?

One of the biggest difficulties in the picture is the heavy dose of sunlight affecting the overall image and is robbing us of detail that would enhance the picture. This has everything to do with the time day I took the picture.  In this case it’s a trade-off between technique and artistic imagery.  If I were to take the picture at an earlier or later time so that the lighting is perfect, the sun would not be at an angle in the sky to flow directly on the flower. Lighting is what gives an image its dramatic power.

So, one of the first things to do is to rebalance the image reduce the sunlight glare from blowing out our image. Once we mange that, both on the camera through a lens filter and then again in Photoshop, we pull out more detail and move on to any color issues.

The picture is green predominately green and white. It’s a plant so that is to be expected, but I want to enhance that drama we were talking about earlier. I do this by simply changing the image to a black and white one. The advantage is that the white will remain but the greens will turn into varying shades of blacks and grays thus not only preserving our drama but enhancing it.

After this transformation I work with the contrast and brightness and make sure that there is an area of pure white and pure black in the image for aesthetic reasons.

I then move on towards working with a modern day version of dodging and burning the picture to further enhance both the dark areas and the dramatic white. The last step is to make sure that no digital noise has crept in the photograph robbing the image of a silky smooth look. So I use a denoise filter designed to take the noise out .

You may ask why I’m not giving specific details about the exact settings I use in Photoshop or how many filters I may apply. It’s not that my answers are full of trade secrets. Rather, the reason is that there are no set hard fast rules for applying filters and using dodge and burn on your images. Some images may require 3 filters, some 13. It is dependent upon your artistic eye and the individual image.

Thus I am left with the enhanced image below.

 

Palm Flower
Palm Flower

Hope you enjoyed this look at a simplified version of taking and image and working it step by step and filter by filter into a work of art.

 

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The Secret of Red Tulip

This is our latest offering in our ever-expanding artwork dealing with flowers. Red Tulip is a portrait of a bright red tulip found in the flower garden one spring morning.   The main motivation for the work revolves around the lighting and the detail of the dew on the petals of the flower.

 

Black and White photography allows for you to see pieces of the flower that you would otherwise be unable to view due to the bright colors. The challenge in creating a piece like this is twofold. The first, and probably the hardest, is taking the shot. But to do that it is necessary to mentally sift through hundreds of tulips and lighting angles to find the right one. The fact that I only use natural lighting conditions when taking a picture really pushes my creativity when searching for my subject.

 

Another trick is that you have to be there early to get this shot. Most photographers preferring natural light will tell you that as the day progresses the light from the sun becomes more and more harsh. But there are other reasons for getting to the flower garden before the sun becomes your enemy. Early morning is the best time to capture the morning dew. The random droplets of dew on enhance our attention to detail when viewing a flower. It just naturally appears fresher.

Red Tulip
Red Tulip

 

The second challenge in this shot is the use of filters.   Because I do not use artificial light, I use various colored filters to create a darker or lighter image among the colors when converted into a black and white image.   These filters only do part of the job however, as it is then necessary to use dodge and burning techniques to enrich areas of the flower that will enhance the natural lighting or darken the background as my creativity inspires me to do.   While this is consumes a great deal of time, the result is worth it.

 

As usual, the hardest part of any artwork is the naming. I decided that since the main reason any flower attracts our attention for so long is definitely the color. So, I decided that I was going to name it according to the color of the original tulip. Thus Red Tulip was born.

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