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Photo Tips

JUNE 2011

 

by Mike Rosen

 

Hi <<First Name>>,

Happy summer. Spring's not officially over yet--but I don't think it ever started. As I began writing this, it was 100 degrees in the shade in Minneapolis. Yesterday late afternoon, it was dark, raining, windy and about 60. Some spring!

Some folks said they missed the May issue of Photo Tips. That's because between teaching my photography course and getting ready for my new exhibit (see sidebar), I simply didn't have the time to write it. I'm sorry.

Editing your photos

Several people at the reception asked me if I altered the color of certain images or made other material changes in them, presumably as compared to how they emerged from the camera when initially shot. The answer, of course, is YES. 

To me, image editing is nearly as much fun as making them to begin with, and equally creative. It's a second opportunity to exercise your artistic talents.

More importantly, while cameras are sophisticated instruments designed by skilled engineers, they simply cannot see and record things like the human eye does. So when I initially look at an image in my camera or computer display, it may lack brightness or contrast, have a strange color cast or seem a bit less sharp than I hoped. It doesn't take long to fix these problems, and I perform some editing on nearly every image I believe worth displaying.

I do it because editing helps me reach my goal of creating an image as near to "reality" as I remember it when I captured it. An exception to this is if I'm deliberately trying to create some unusual artistic interpretation--an abstract or a distinctive mood, for example--or if I've decided to convert the image from color to black and white.  

Red-eye elimination and cropping out unwanted edges of pictures are also standard image editing procedures. Of course it's better to limit the need for cropping by defining your primary subject and filling the frame with it when you're composing the photo in the first place. The smaller the portion of your image that you keep, the less you can enlarge it (digitally or prints) without suffering deterioration in sharpness and increased noise. So get closer, use your zoom lens, zero in on the details, and avoid including diversions that will need to be cropped out later.


Here are some examples

Driving in the Alps between Cannes and Geneva recently, I oohed and aahed over this scene, so I quickly pulled off the road to make some pictures. To my dismay they all looked dull, flat and boring in my screen. I think the bright midday haze was probably the culprit.


Back home on my computer, I could see that the detail and color range were actually there. All I needed to do was bump up contrast and brightness to bring it out. Notice how the village now stands out and the vivid patterns of the clouds and mountains in the background have emerged.


In this next example, I made various mistakes when I grabbed a photo of my granddaughter, Davan, on the fly. I should have moved closer so she would fill the frame. Who needs to look at an uninteresting mass of dull blue sky plus a bunch of other irrelevant details? I also framed her right in the center (forgot about the rule of thirds). But the exposure was OK so I knew I could edit it successfully.


















A major crop eliminated the sky and moved Davan to a more pleasing spot on the right. A white balance adjustment got rid of the blue color cast and warmed up the picture. Increasing the contrast brought out the mountains across Lake Geneva and gave the image some much needed "pop." I also sharpened it a bit. The results are pretty dramatic.

I believe any changes more radical than these--such as materially altering reality by combining portions of different photos in one--can also be ethically acceptable, so long as they're disclosed to the viewer. Confession: Sometimes I will make a secret change by eliminating an ugly electric wire, an errant leaf or tree branch or other minor intrusions into my masterpiece. Rules, after all, are made to be broken.

Editing software 


There are numerous free or low cost photo editing packages available, such as Google's Picasa (free) or Apple's iPhoto ($15.00). While I use Adobe Photoshop (around $700, but only $200 if you qualify for the student/teacher edition), it's certainly not necessary to invest hundreds of dollars to get great results. Adobe also markets a "junior" version of Photoshop called Photoshop Elements, an excellent program that is available for around $60.00. I urge you to try any of these, because they're lots of fun and will enable you to enhance both your creativity and the quality of your pictures.


All the best,

 

Mike

 

 

 

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Other Stuff

 

PURCHASE A PHOTO
 
You can view more of my photographs at my website (click HERE). To ORDER A PHOTO or if you have any questions, please email me (click HERE).



PHOTO EXHIBIT

I thank those of you who were at the June 5 opening reception of my new exhibit at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It's titled "Nature, Wildlife and Landscape Images from Around the World,"  and the wonderful response and compliments have been gratifying.


   --Photo by Leighton Siegel

The images will be on display through July 31, so everyone is invited to stop by from 9 to 5 any day except Mondays. Take the 34th Ave. S. exit from 494 in Bloomington, head south for one block, then turn left at American Blvd. (E. 80th St.) and proceed a quarter mile. It's across the street from the Airport Hilton, on the right. Please sign the guest book so I'll know you were there.



OLLI PHOTO TIPS COURSE

I recently finished teaching my first photography course and not only enjoyed it but,
along with the twenty or so students (I hope), learned a lot. The course was sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) of the University of Minnesota. I'll be leading it again this fall on seven Wednesday mornings beginning September 21. Check out all of OLLI's very interesting senior education programs by clicking HERE.


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