My recent trip to the Italian Dolomites yielded an awful lot of photos: some good, and some bad. Plenty of snaps didn’t make the cut and were deleted, but there were some pictures that, while poorly composed or incorrectly exposed or just plain boring, I couldn’t bring myself to delete. These, I decided to doctor instead.
Candidate 1 – a side-canal in Venice. I initially took this picture using manual settings I’d forgotten to adjust since coming out of a dark alley – the inset shows what the scene actually looked like. I have no idea why I didn’t just delete it – I normally would have – but I guess I just wanted to see if I could do anything with it at all.
Candidate 2 – the Boring Gorge. In real life this is a spectacular plummet off a bridge into a chasm with the river at its base, stretching off into the distance. In this photo it’s a generally grey-green tribute to how what the camera sees is less than the eye perceives.
I took the above three photos and had a tinker. Usually, I only ever fiddle within Lightroom – a touch of sharpening/contrast or, at most, a black and white conversion. The first two stayed in Lightroom but I pushed them a lot harder than I usually do, the third I took into Pixelmator for fidgeting. None of them had extra images added or anything like that – it was all about highlighting certain parts of the image.
With the saturation and highlight recovery pushed as hard as Lightroom was capable of managing this photo has become a riot of colour which is completely lost in the well-exposed shot. It’s a bit surreal but I found the effect really striking.The gorge picture, again purely done in Lightroom. I desaturated a few of the colours, mainly greens and yellows in the foreground, then took the ‘aqua’ shade and pushed it as far the other way as I could manage. This has, pleasingly, left no ‘hard’ black and white edges: only gradient change. The bluish haze in the distance also was picked out by the ‘aqua’ slider and to me this image shows a river feeding colour into the distance. The gorge texture is brought out by the black and white, which simultaneously allows the river to shine.
Last but not least. Photos often isolate a subject by blurring the background but in this case I’ve darkened and desaturated it instead. I like the impression of climbing out of the darkness and boredom of the bottom of the valley and into the sun. It was pretty laborious and fiddly to pick out the foreground, and pixel-peepers amongst you will note that it isn’t perfect, but what the hell – it works for me!
What’re your thoughts?