Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Your Photographs CAN Look Better.

I'm sure I mentioned it, but we went to Suwon a few weeks back, mostly so that I could take photographs. I got a few nice ones, but all in all most of them are just interesting and very few are what I could call good.

I would like to share just one here, but with a little twist. I'd like to show you how I changed it from an OK image to something more interesting to look at. I'll start of with the original image and then explain to you how I got to the final product. Lastly, I'll show the final image and let you decide it if looks better. I won't be posting them one after the other, so you might want to right click on both and open them in new windows so that you can skip back and forth to see what the differences are.

Here is the original. It's interesting and I took it mainly to show the autumn colours on the mountain.

We will start here. I will skip the detailed steps, but you should get an idea of what goes in to it.

The first thing I always do is sample the colours for colour correction. Black is first and a spot that should be black get marked for sampling. I have noticed that correcting colour when using the black sample has the biggest and best effect on the image, so I need to get this one right. After that I do the same for mid gray and a white. In this example I didn't pick a white spot because the sky was so bright and over exposed that it showed up as one big white blotch.

Having picked my spots to sample, I use Curves to set the sampled spots as markers for colour correction. This immediately makes the colours more vibrant, mostly because it makes the very dark spots black and adjusts everything in between. The gray sample usually does very little. and white often has an effect.

Maybe I should mention here that I use PhotoShop CS3. I did exactly the came in CS2.

After the colour correction I boots the contras a tiny bit, again, using Curves. This enhances the colours slightly, but more importantly is clears the image of a lot of that "spoke" that seems to blur everything in most pictures. You don't even notice the smoke until it is suddenly gone.

Depending on the image I might boost the saturation, but I try to avoid that. I was actually considering reducing the saturation in this one, but I felt that the picture looks "prettier" this way even thought the colours are a little brighter that needed.

The last big change I made was to add the sky. Normally I will just do a black overlay gradient to add a bit of feeling to the sky, but here the sky was so over exposed that I decided to take the sky from another image I took that day and drop it in here. I changed it a tiny bit to be more visible and a deeper blue, but apart from that I didn't do anything else.

The very last thing I do is to run a Smart Sharpen filter on the image. This has the effect of sharpening edges and making the image less blurry. In other words, it makes the focus seem better than it really is and makes the details clearer. This will not fix images that are just completely out of focus though.

If needed, and it is needed more often than you think, then you should straighten the image out and crop it to get a better composition. Both were applied to this image.

That is it for the actually image changes. Al that is left after that is framing. For my arty images I use the black frame and if I want to use them as travel photography then I use the white frame to make them resemble postcards. You have seen the white frames in my other posts. A small logo, date and name is added as well.

That is it. Not much to it, is there? The rest is just looking for the right photograph and trying different things. If you take lots of photographs then you are bound to get something nice. This example isn't a particularly good photographs, but it illustrates the point well and does capture a bit of that autumn look like here in Korea.

Here is the finished product.

I hope this inspires some of you to at least straighten their images and run some sore of auto correction on it.

1 comment:

-dev- said...

hmmmm... it's complicated..! as i rarely using a Photoshop program.. :p