March 11, 2015

Adventures In Editing: Under the Glaring Sun

The sun was high in the sky. There were no clouds and little shade. I had three tired children the morning after the time change. Not ideal shooting conditions.

The time and location had been the client's choosing. I simply had to do the best I could under the circumstances. That is my job as the hired photographer.

I knew the images I captured would require editing. I played with my settings to attempt to control and limit the amount of light reaching the sensor, and relied heavily on the image histograms to make sure I would have something to work with.

If you are not familiar, a histogram is a graph that provides information about the exposure and contrast of an image. You can Google it to learn more. But the basic and most important thing to remember is - you normally don't want to see your image's information touching either the left (dark) or right (bright) side of the graph.

If this happens, you have lost detail in parts of your image you cannot recover. I think this graphic from Digital Camera World demonstrates it well:


There may be cases where you are going for a super dark or light look. It is all about aesthetic. But that did not apply for me with this shoot.

The image preview in camera for the shot I am going to spotlight this week's Adventures in Editing looked washed out. But I knew from the histogram the detail was there, and could therefore be brought out once I imported it to Lightroom:

Click on image to view larger

When I am photographing children, my goal is to have their personality shine through. Even when taking posed shots, as I was in this case, I strive for natural, casual looks. I love to capture them when their attention is on something other than the camera, because they are more likely to be themselves in those moments.

It is also great to get them looking at the camera right after their attention has been drawn away, before they have had time to adjust (to what they think you want to see). You get less of a cheesy grin and more of a look characteristic to the child. Here is the shot I captured immediately after the one above:


There was a tonal quality to these shots I liked as well. When I began to edit the images, I wanted to bring out the color not only in the subject, but also the stone she is standing in front of. I wanted it to look like it did in real life.

I increased the sharpness and dialed down the exposure a touch. I then increased the contrast, saturation, and vibrance. In the first image I did not adjust the highlights. In the second I dialed them down. I added a vignette to both to help place the emphasis on the subject.

That was it. And the result? The images reflected what I saw with my eyes when I shot them. Mission accomplished.




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