ABFriday Forum Week 08
The AfterBefore Friday, launched and managed by Stacy Fischer of Visual Venturing gives readers an opportunity to exchange ideas about various post-processing techniques. Each week brings together an interesting and informative selection of images and post-processing techniques. They can be found on Friday mornings at Visual Venturing,
My submission for this week was taken last year along the Oregon Coast during a road trip down the Pacific Highway. The scene depicts Cape Lookout, about 60-70 miles south of the Columbia River. We stopped at the Cape Lookout State Park for a picnic lunch and this was the scene from a table that amazingly was not already taken. As usual with a beach scene, there was a problem with contrasting light. But the clouds over the water and Cape Lookout in the distance combined with the yellow flowers in the foreground made it irresistible.
Unlike last week, when the image required some serious interventions, this week’s choice is a more typical example where we start with a pretty decent image and use a few subtle adjustments to make minor improvements.
At any rate, the main challenge here was during the capture phase: a moderate breeze was causing movement in the flowers in the foreground but I wanted the flowers to be relatively sharp. The normal hyper focal technique of using an aperture of f/16 forced me to boost the ISO to 800. I rarely go above ISO 400 so I wasn’t happy about it, but a fast shutter speed was necessary to minimize movement in the flowers. (Technical data: Nikon D800E with a 14-24mm lens extended to 19mm; Exposure 1/800th sec. @ f/16, ISO 800)
The original image is shown as the RAW file came from the camera, before any changes were made in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).
Original Image as unprocessed RAW file
The first steps were taken in ACR, and the adjustments made were as follows:
Highlights: Changed to -93, ta severe reduction to cut back the brightness of the scene;
Shadows: Changed to + 15 a modest boost to open up the shadows in the foreground;
Clarity: Changed to +20 (not as much as I usually employ, but this seemed to be enough);
Vibrance: Changed to +23 (to give a small boost to the yellow flowers and blue sky).
All other settings were unchanged. The result was then opened in Photoshop CC and looked like this:
Image after changes made in Adobe Camera Raw
A minor crop removed some of the sand in the immediate foreground and on the right side. This increased the importance of the yellow flowers in the foreground.
Next, an adjustment layer (hue/saturation) was applied to the overall scene. The blend mode was “saturation” and the amount was increased to +14. This is a relatively small change, but it made in nice difference in the sky and the yellow flowers, both of which seemed a little too flat.
Finally, the sky and clouds were selected and a curves adjustment layer (blend mode=luminosity) was applied to darken those portions and bring back the dramatic appearance that was there that day. The final result is shown below.
Observant readers may notice the man seated on the driftwood log in the center of the image: he is very hard to see in this small size. I was somewhat ambivalent about whether he should be left in. I finally chose to leave him there because he provides a sense of scale. In addition, I was going for representing what I saw that day, which is also an argument for his presence. I’m not in love with his posture, however.