When I received my tutor’s feedback from assignment one, there was a comment that two of the images I chose to present were a little on the dark side. When reviewing this feedback on my learning log, I commented that I wanted to play with these two images, but at the time I had no access to Photoshop to do so (posted 21.03.13), but now I do have access and have had the chance to play with these photos, and the results have really surprised me.
The first image carried the title ‘Tracks’, apply named as it shows track-marks made by something heavy that was dragged through the sand.
I originally wrote that I liked the shot, as the lines seem to draw order in the messiness of the sand, and this feeling still stands.
I also mentioned that I felt things were a little on the red side, which I assumed was due to the colours being cast by the rising winter sun, and at the time I felt that this was a good representation of what I saw that morning at the beach.
However, I have now had the chance to process this image through Photoshop, producing what I feel is a completely new photo and one that represents what one might have expected to see when visiting the same spot at the beach.
As you can see, only very subtle changes been made to this image and it is not until you look at it very closely that you can see the differences.
My first alteration came in Bridge where I made changes to the white balance, which I changed to ‘Auto’, the best choice available, which in turn changed the hue taking away the orange look. Then, in the Photoshop’s levels adjustment, I increased the exposure on the histogram just enough to brighten the troughs and shadows within the tracks and the footprints.
Do I prefer this photo now? I am not sure as I liked the first image enough to include it in my final choice of images, and I still think that the original was a truer representation of the colours I saw on the day. Although, I can see the appeal of the new shot, as I imagine this is how the same scene looked a little later in the day, when the sun was higher in the sky.
This next image was the one I chose as my final image in the assignment, so you can imagine that I was a little disappointed when my tutor told me that she thought it was on the darker side. On the day of shooting, I knew when releasing my shutter in front of this scene that this would be my favorite shot of the day.
Looking back over some of my previous work, I do tend to take photos that are a little on the darker side, my husband has confirmed this the many times he has said ‘that picture could be a little lighter you know’. This has changed over time, but I so still have the tendency to under expose by 1-2 stops, as my camera seems to prefer these settings.
Therefore, in order to experiment and lighten this photo, I ran the exact same processes in both Bridge and Photoshop, by first changing my white balance and then my exposure.
Now there is a completely different look and feel to the image and I actually like each of them equally, but for different reasons.
In the first image, everything seems a little moody and mysterious; leaving you to wonder what kind of dog made these impressions and what was he doing on the beach so early in the morning to leave these untouched marks in the sand. Whereas the second images leaves a lighter, less curious impression and the feeling that the dog and his master were enjoying an early morning game by the waters edge.
By lightening this image, there is actually more information available within the frame and the grains of sand are more prominent and the scene much clearer to the viewers eye, although as before, the colours are not quiet a true representation of what I saw that morning at the waters edge.
So, what have I leant from this exercise? There is a time and place for images whose exposure are either a little darker and/or a little lighter than you might expect; you just need to be aware of which exposure type best suites the requirements of your image.
The changes made to the first image are very subtle and unless you have a very keen eye (and a large, well calibrated computer screen) they are not immediately obvious, although comparing these images again there is not only a slightly different feel to the altered image, but it also feels a little cleaner and crisper than the original.
The changes to the second image are far more apparent and the jury is still out on which one of these I prefer. I can see that by making these changes it has given the image a completely different look and feel, which would appeal to some more than to others, although the same of which can be said of the reverse.
Therefore, the question comes full cycle and I can again ask, “What have I learnt from this exercise?” And once again it is being highlighted to me that photography really comes down to personal preference as everybody sees something different in the images we produce, and in order to achieve we need to be aware of this and make changes to our work so they become more appealing to everyone who takes the time to look at them.