Sunday, November 6, 2011

Looking for a start

Hi everyone.  I hope your week has been a good one and you've had a chance to get out and explore, shoot, and experiment with your images.  I was asked this week if I knew how I was going to process an image when I was capturing it?  My answer at the time was "I rarely think about the way I will process the shot but always think about the crop of the shot when I'm shooting."  But thinking back on that answer, I would say that is only partly true.  The reason being, the crop of the shot I am already seeing in my minds eye is including processing possibilities my experience has taught me to look for.  Hopefully today's post will help you both when you are out shooting and back at home working on your images.

The image above was taken a couple of days ago at one of the local reservoirs.  The sun was just coming up and the scene with it's muted light and patches of snow against the rugged browns was very striking to me.  But as I looked through the view finder my circular  polarizing filter added such a striking depth and drama to the sky and color overall, I knew the image would have numerous possibilities for processing.  Once home I began studying the scene for possibilities and there were several that came to mind.

As I've stated in earlier posts, I first create a subtle HDR of the image.  The layering of exposiers help to  soften out the darkening depth created by the filter while bringing up details in the foreground.  I loved the rounded bulky look of the snow on the ground and when I arrived home noticed the similar look in the surrounding vegetation and terrain.  Again, the HDR helps to bring out these characteristics.  I knew when taking the shot I wanted the lone tree to be the main player in the final image so I tried to shoot it in such a way as to be able to incorporate a fair amount of sky to either side for adding an interesting movement of texturing later on.

Coloring and contrasts is always the next step.  I find that when I begin working on the image with the actions I have on file, the changes in mode brought out by this step, help me to "see" the image in different ways.

As with this unused version here, while gaining an aged feel from the faded color and softer contrasts, I decided I preferred the the darker mood reflected in earlier image and wanted to bring out that character.

So now with the depth of shadows returned to the ground cover and a warmth brought to the sky and over all color, I knew this would be a good foundation to begin from for texturing the shot. 

So, crop became the next issue.  Now, I've talked about crop several times before and I know there are those who do not care for a square crop, but I do.  The square crop was giving me options in different parts of the original image.  I decided to work on two from this image that I felt worked best.

I finished this crop because I love the bouquet of textures and shapes created from all the foliage and trees.  I loved the rounded punches of white created by the clouds and snow.  And I loved the color combinations of rust, browns, gray blues, and cream.

This crop, while also flipped....was all about the dance between light and sky.  The textures, shadows, and colors were all there from the first version, but the character of the image I feel is much different.  To me, it doesn't even feel like the same time of day, much less the same picture.  The different character of clouds with the way they are streaming in....creating a leading line for the light streaming across the foliage and ground.....I loved it and wanted to bring out those characteristics as well.

Well, I hope this has helped you to take a second look at some of your own images.  Not all shots are going to have multiple options for you, but a lot of them will...if you are looking for them.  Don't feel as though you have to choose between on them all and see what they have to reveal.

Happy shooting.