Sunday’s shoot in Snowdonia was very enjoyable even through it was more than a little rushed. As a result, some of the images were either over or under exposed. I have a rule that if I have to spend more than five to ten minutes on an image it gets bumped out of the archive. This meant that there would be the task of seeing what needed to be done so that I had some publishable images.
Of course, the real dilemma is: How much processing is too much? Well, that’s a very good point. I looked very carefully at the images I made during the shoot and from the 47 (94 including the JPEGs) I chose all 47 images for consideration for my blog, Flickr, Steller and/or Instagram (see earlier note!). I am very conscious of over-manpulating images; for example, I don’t like HDR images, focus stacking or any other time-consuming processes. Too much time spent processing images means less time in the field honing your camera skills.
I mentioned dodging and burning earlier. These are two processes of the most useful methods of improving shadows and highlights; dodge to darken highlights and burn brightens shadows. All of Adobe’s image processing software have these tools on hand and it takes a little while to master the them but it is very much worth the effort. Alien Skin’s Exposure X also has these tools but is a little more intricate and not quite as effective as Adobe’s.
I’m a very big fan of Ansel Adams and I’d like to think that when you finally see all the images, you’ll see a find a little of the master’s touch in my processing. If you don’t know Adams, I can tell you he was a very fine photographer but a better printer. He was a past master of knowing just how much to “dodge and burn” images to get the very best from the negatives, often glass ones, Just pick up one of his books – I would recommend “400 Photographs” and if you wanted to know more about his printing techniques you can try “Examples – The Making of 40 Photographs”. Both are also excellent sources of inspiration for your own images.
Another photographer/printer worth exploring is Eddie Ephraums, who writes a regular column in Black+White Photography magazine. He is based in the UK where he teaches all the skills that the modern photographer needs either in the darkroom or using computers. If you can find a copy, have a look at his book “Creative Elements; Landscape Photography – Darkroom Techniques”, Whilst this book is centred on the analogue darkroom, many of the ideas and techniques he uses can be used in todays digital world. The book goes into great depth with lots of examples of how the techniques look and work, By examining the original image you can see how he selects the areas for treatment. It’s then easy for you to spot the areas in your images that need either a lift or toning down a little.
I’ve published below another of the dozen images I’ve already processed; this is a view of The Glyderau and Pen-yr-Ole-Wen, all mountains of above 3,000 feet, seen from the eastern edge of Llyn Ogwen.
Not all the 47 images I started with will be used but I’m quite pleased with the 25% that have “made the grade” thus far. And, yes, due to the quality of light and my haste to get a few images “in the bag”, each has taken a little longer to process than my five to ten minute “rule”. My excuse? It’s been a wet day and I needed some amusement!
Image © Tony Harratt/The Fuji Freak – 2016
NOTES: For those interested, Ansel Adams’ “400 Photographs” can be found under ISBN-10: 0-316-11772-2 or ISBN-13: 978-0-316-11772-2; “Examples – The Making of 40 Photographs” can be found under ISBN 978-08212-1750-4. Both are published by Little, Brown.
The book by Eddie Ephraums, “Creative Elements; Landscape Photography – Darkroom Techniques” was published by 21st Century Publications in 1993 under ISBN 0-9510147-9-X and is probably out of print. You’ll be please to know that a hardback copy from Amazon UK can be had for anything from £3.95 to £984.37! A NEW copy – three in total, also from Amazon UK – can be had for £9.98, £95.51 and £98.53! A paperback copy will cost from £5.00 to £74.44. These prices don’t include delivery charges. I recently picked up my copy for £3.49 via Oxfam Books here in the UK.