Jessica Holden Photography » My Photo Journal

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Enhancing Your Vision with Photoshop

OK, so here is my final blog post on my four-week class with CM’s Sarah Wilkerson on Advanced Compostion and Creativity. (Week One is blogged here, Week Two here, and Week Three here.)

This week we weren’t necessarily shooting anything new (though we could if we wanted to); instead we learned how to edit an image to really bring our initial vision of the photo to life: to take an SOOC (straight out of camera) image to that next level.

I decided to rework three older images that I felt had promise but just hadn’t QUITE met their potential yet.

This was one that looked really cool in my mind, but the glass and water of the fish bowl wreaked havok with the focus and color. To some degree that was OK with me as it’s natural, but it was so extreme that I found it really disctracting in the final image. In CS5 I cropped and straightened the image. Then I pulled up the brightness, saturation, and contrast a bit to make the image “pop” a little more, since in my mind’s eye the image should be more joyful and fun than the soft tones of the SOOC felt. Done! Simple but powerful changes.

For this second image, I was going for a dreamy look. First I blurred the background to soften it and make it all blend together, and I cloned out the distracting blotches on the window and on the slate on the ground in the yard. Then I decided the color of the SOOC was disctacting as the pinks/reds of her hair, cheeks, and shirt were too bright for the soft, dreamy feel I was after. I used an action to convert it to black and white: TRA’s Magical B&W. It creates a really “gentle” black and white image with an almost ethereal quality. I tweaked each of the layers to my liking and was done!

And for this last one, I exposed for the sky and trees, which grossly underexposed her. In retrospect I should have exposed a little brighter so it would have been easier to fix both–I definitely had some wiggle room. I created a new layer layer with the brightness and exposure corrected, and then I used very careful masking to make that bright layer only show her. Next I cloned out the trees completely, so it would look as it did in my mind–like she was gleefully flying into the sky. Then I brought the image into Lightroom and pulled the luminosity of the orange layer closer to white to make her skin appear still sunlit but less orangey. I also used LR’s noise reduction sliders as upping the exposure on her so much introduced a lot of noise (which is why with my camera I normally prefer to overexpose as much as I can–just up to the point where nothing is blown–that reduces noise issues for me!). But the image still wasn’t quite right, and I finally figured out that I wanted to switch the orientation horizontally. Normally I don’t like to do that as it feels “false” to me to manipulate reality THAT much, plus on Emily, flipping makes her part be on the wrong side and moves a freckle to the wrong side. But for this image, I decided that the good outweighed the bad. In the original orientation it feels like she is on her way back “down”, but with the flip, I feel like she is on her way UP into the sky, which was just the feel I was after. And viola–done!

I just loved this class! I definitely found the assignments challenging and at times even frustrating because they were so far outside of my comfort zone, but I tried my best to embrace the frustration as I know that pushing yourself is the only way to grow. I was lucky enough to be in a class with a bunch of amazing women who were sweet and warm and enthusiastic, and Sarah was a fantastic teacher who really knows her stuff and knows how to explain it and how to kindly and gently encourage us to reach our greatest potential. I just know that I will be working on these concepts in the upcoming months until they are completely internalized–I feel so grateful and excited to have this class as the next “foundation” on which I will continue to learn my craft!

  • jennifer - January 3, 2012 - 6:28 pm

    These are awesome! I enjoyed all the post from this class and totally want to take it when they offer it again!ReplyCancel

  • joyce - January 4, 2012 - 6:30 pm

    Beautiful 🙂 I am so glad to get to know you in the class! You are the kindest and sweetest soul I know. Keep clickin girl!! oh…and em too <3ReplyCancel

  • Cary - January 4, 2012 - 9:24 pm

    Gorgeous! I love the fishbowl, how many times did my daughter do the same thing? At least a million! The swing picture is fantastic, I STILL remember that soaring feeling from swingtime at recess many moons later, love it!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Wilkerson - January 4, 2012 - 10:47 pm

    Wonderful, Jessica!! <3 It was wonderful to spend four (er, 7…!) weeks discussing things with you and enjoying your work. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Erin Wheeler - January 5, 2012 - 10:45 am

    This is AWESOME! I just love what you did to the last photo- fabulous!!!ReplyCancel

  • Beira - January 8, 2012 - 7:40 pm

    These are gorgeous! Looks like some awesome learning going on in that class.ReplyCancel