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Friday, February 26, 2010

The Evolution of an Image!

Not too long ago I was shooting film. I would take my film in to be processed and anxiously go pick it up as soon as they said it was ready. Fuji Velvia, a positive slide film, was my film of choice. It was also preferred by most professional nature, landscape, and architecture photographers. Sometimes I miss the sharpness, extra contrast and rich color that you got from looking at a Velvia transparency. Despite all the good things about digital,  matching the look of Velvia is not an easy thing to do most of the time.
Today I shoot everything with a high end, high megapixel camera. I have it set to capture in what they call "raw". This is the image in an unprocessed state. Shooting in raw will give you color and contrast that is dull compared to what you saw and photographed. Many things may need to be adjusted until this image looks the way you remembered it. However, who says it has to look exactly how you remembered it. Neither film nor digital have ever recorded things exactly as we saw them anyway.


 The top image was taken last November on Orange Beach in Alabama. This is how the raw file looks in Adobe Bridge before any type of adjustments have been made. This image is surprisingly dull considering it was about five minutes before sunset and the sun had just popped out from behind the clouds. The light was about as sweet as it gets. Its also has not had any sharpening applied to it.

This second image was processed back in November not long after it was taken. Many adjustments were made with the raw converter in bridge. The image was then opened in Photoshop where some final adjustments were made. The last thing I do is sharpen the image. It may seem strange that it needs to be sharpened. I have a $7,000 camera body with a $1,200 lens attached. I have a very steady tripod and use good technique to create the sharpest image possible. However, this is one of those little things about digital that most people don't realize.

The other day I felt compelled to fiddle with this image a little more. Originally I had opened up the shadows some which is probably closer to the way our eyes see it. However, darkening the shadows and kicking up the contrast brings out more color and accentuates the shapes of the dunes. It dawned on me that this is close the way a perfectly exposed Velvia transparency would have looked. Next time I print "Orange Beach Sunset" I am going with this version unless someone talks me out of it.