Monday, February 14, 2011

Ex. 12: Managing tone

Approaching this exercise, the first thing I needed was a photograph very much in need of a lift, a little TLC to add some sparkle and zip.  An ideal candidate came to mind from some photographs that I took over the weekend as candidates for the last exercise, on RAW.  The following was taken on a grey afternoon in the Hofgarten in central Munich.  The subject is the central law courts an intriguing mixture of old and modern architecture, essentially a brand nwe  building constructed within the shell of a much older one, what was once the Bavarian Military Museum - not a popular concept anymore I am afraid.  I have used the arch as a frame within a frame.  First of all this is a very flat lifeless image at the moment, typical of the RAW output from my Canon 5D2, but also reflecting the uniform lighting produced by an overcast day.

I manage all of my photographs in Lightroom and so will use that as the tool for this exercise.  All images in this blog have been output with a resizing to 1024 pixels on the long edge and sharpened for screen. The first thing I have done with the photograph is to tighten the crop, straighten it up a little and use the lens correction to reduce a little pincushion distortion.  The crop is open to question, I like the presence of the supporting girder on the left, although I admit it might not be to everyones taste.  At this stage I have also assessed the White Balance and find that the camera has done a pretty good job, although taking a white point from the left hand  girder does cool the image down a lot, but too much.  White Balance off the steel in the mid ground does not alter the image at all.

Next step was to adjust the exposure until I no longer ad any clipping:

I still find the image too lacking in contrast so the next step was to increase the contrast by a modest amount and to darken the shadow areas by increasing the Blacks.

This has over darkened the frame of the building so I have added some Fill Light to compensate:

My final adjustments to the image are to add a little vibrance to boost the colour contrast and some small adjustments using the tone curve to selectively darken some of the mid-tones.  I have also applied some sharpening and noise reduction

A fairly straightforward process and one with which I have good familiarity, but interesting all the same.  So many things I do automatically, writing down the process helps to think a little more about thesteps involved.

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