Thursday, 29 May 2014

Image Editing - The Positive Effects

Some frown at the idea of post-editing.  They argue that it is "cheating" and that you need to get the image right first time in-camera.  I don't disagree with that, indeed there are many amateurs out there, and some professionals even, who rely heavily on post-editing simply to cover over their errors.  But, at the same time, there are some situations that you simply can't always get right first time and some work is later required on the resulting image.

This is not a "how-to-do-it" blog, but I thought I would share a few examples of just how effective good image editing can be with some shots I took on a recent visit to Fountains Abbey, located near Ripon in North Yorkshire.  It is the remains of an abbey built in the 12th century and now classed as a grade 1 listed building, owned by the National Trust, and well worth a visit.


Removal of People and Obstacles

The day that we went, it was a busy weekend, there were a lot of other people present.  In the original image here, the other visitors are clearly everywhere enjoying themselves.  There is no way I could have got them to move for me to take a shot of the beautiful building and it's grounds.

Fountains Abbey with visitors

But with a little creative post-editing work, they can easily be removed.  Then a little tweak to the overall look, and I think a very pleasing finished picture.

Fountains Abbey with visitors removed

  
Improving Tonal Range and Quality

Let me say at the outset to this section, before any health and safety reminders come flooding in, that pointing your camera directly at the sun is NOT TO BE ADVISED, especially when you are looking through the viewfinder.  However, once you know how to do it safely, the effect can be stunning.

Take this shot for example.  It was impossible to correctly expose for the bright sky and the darker shadowy areas of the stonework. 

Sun peeping round tower
(1/500sec - f16 - ISO100)
Sun peeping round tower adjusted

Although the image on the left is totally acceptable in it's own way, when the shadow areas are adjusted in post-editing, a bit of cropping and straightening is applied and then a few of the colour flare spots removed (right), the result is quite spectacular.





  
And, believe it or not, these final 2 are both the same picture!!

Water and trees in heavy contrast
(1/200sec - f8 - ISO125)
Water and trees with exposure corrected
In the original scene, the tonal range was so dramatic with the bright blue sky and reflections contrasting heavily with the shadow of the trees and building.  To get the exposure I wanted to make the image pleasing, I took shots at varying exposures somewhere between what I required for the shadow and highlights.  Then I hand-picked this one which gave me exactly what I wanted for the final image.






Then, I corrected the exposure settings up and down in post-editing.







There are, of course, many ways of achieving the results shown here, and no way is necessarily wrong.  But when post-editing is done correctly, it isn't cheating, but rather a creative technique which can enhance your work dramatically.


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