16 November 2011

Post-Processing Experiments: Tone and Texture

Bosque Sunset, Bosque del Apache NWR, NM, Nov. 2011
A great conversation with some artists recently inspired me to push myself out of my comfort zone in photo processing. I tend towards realism, which makes photography a perfect medium for me (not to mention I can't paint or draw worth a plugged nickel), but sometimes a photograph captures a moment that might be better expressed less literally, more figuratively... I'm not sure what the best words are to express this, so I've spent the past few days playing visually to see how I respond on a gut level to various effects.

I saw right away that this photo in its raw form was kind of flat; the composition was okay, the detail was pretty good but not good enough to zoom in (have I mentioned that I'm dying for a fast telephoto lens? Next year, perhaps), and the color was good but not striking enough to carry the image. So I applied Photoshop's black-and-white filter, which was okay but not fabulous (I do much prefer color to B/W -- my own visual bias), and then slowly ramped the color back up and added sepia and selenium toning (using Topaz Labs' new B&W Effects, which is a fun and fabulous Photoshop add-in) to "antique" the image. This seemed to bring out the snow geese, which helped me realize that I didn't really have one stand-out focal element in this image -- oh, pretty birds! oh, pretty trees! oh, cool lines! -- and that perhaps this is what I struggle with most in landscapes.

So, food for thought. Please feel free to offer whatever feedback you have on this image; it's definitely a work in progress. I'm really enjoying the process of experimenting and letting go of the idea that I have to create a "perfect" image, and I'm open to suggestions and inspiration.


Kathryn Dyche Dechairo said...

I'm no expert on tone . . . I say have fun experimenting and listen to that inner voice. :0)

Georgette Evans Grey said...

Nice shot, Anna. I seem to have some of the same troubles with landscape (paintings) as you express about your photography. I find the bright whiteness of the snow geese distracting and there are so many of them I do not focus on any of them. The trees are what really draw my eye and the rest is support for them. I agree with Kathryn, though, trust your inner voice.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

I think it's fun to experiment with different techniques. I find that while I might like a photo to begin with, after a few attempts at editing, I discard it and start with another. Wasn't meant to be.

I like the painterly effect on this very much.