The After-Before Friday Forum, sponsored by Stacy Fischer of VisualVenturing is an opportunity for photographers to exchange ideas on various post-processing techniques they use to achieve their creative vision. After all, when the shutter closes, there is still work to be done. All of the submissions can be found at the Forum Week 21 posting here. Anyone can participate and the guidelines can be found in Stacy’s Forum post each week.
My submission this week was taken a few years ago at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC. The cherry blossoms had peaked a day or so before and a night rain had knocked a lot of petals off the blossoms giving the appearance of a pink snow flurry. I was fortunate in that no one had yet walked through the petals. When photographing cherry blossoms in low light, I always use an on-camera flash to provide some fill light. Just a touch is all that’s needed so I typically dial the flash back 2 or 3 stops. In addition, I use a magenta gel filter on the flash so the white light doesn’t blow out the color of the petals. (Technical data: Nikon D700 on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 24mm; exposure: 3 sec. @ f/16, ISO 800) This produced the RAW file shown below.
Original RAW Image
The exposure was OK with the cherry blossoms, the twilight blue of the sky, and the display wall. The chief problem areas are: the overly hot flood light (upper center) and the uplights along the base of the wall; the underexposed pillars; and the foreground with the pink petals. The image was opened in Adobe Camera RAW as the first step.
Only four changes were needed here (red arrows). The “Highlights adjustment was moved to -53 to tone down the hotspots in the lights. The “Shadows” adjustment was maxed out to +100 to open up the dark areas which helped improve the pillars. Some “Clarity” was added (+26) and just a smidgen (+13) with the “Vibrance” slider. The image is well saturated already and doesn’t need much more.
This was followed by moving the image into Photoshop (see image below). The first step involved the pillars. The underexposed sections were selected (red lines) and a Curves
First Curves Adjustment for Pillars
Adjustment Layer (blue arrow) was opened. It required a fairly push up with the curve to get the desired detail. The blend mode was left in the default position of Normal.The final step was to brighten up the foreground a bit. The pink are was selected (red line in the image below) and a second Curves Adjustment was made (blue arrow). The blend mode
Second Curves Adjustment for Foreground
was left at Normal again and only a modest push was made to the Curve. This produced the final image which is shown below.
Once again, many thanks to Stacy Fischer for keeping this Forum up and running. Please check out the submissions by the other participants at her post for Week 21 here. And stay tuned for a special edition coming soon that is based on a suggestion from one of the participants.