An alternate title for this is, “Thank Goodness for PhotoShop Wizard-Friends”.
I’ve just come off of a long run of landscape photo obstacles. I was swamped with wedding and portrait edits, then I had hand surgery, then Wimpy Shann didn’t want to go out in the cold… haha Last week, however, an opportunity presented itself, so I took it. I put my warm scarf on, put a glove on my one good hand (the other one was sill in a surgical wrap at that point), told my friend to carry my tripod, and off we went.
The sky was lovely, beautiful wispy clouds with a jet streaking across the colorful sunset. The lake was tranquil, and there were some fun rocks conveniently jutting out from the shore. So far, so good…right?
I took several brackets, trying a number of different angles and heights. When we finally got cold enough, we packed it in, went back to the car and headed for the first cup of hot cocoa we could find.
I eventually got to the business of editing, and had a serious, major brain meltdown. After my third attempt (read that as “fail”) at an edit, I decided I needed help. I reached out to my very talented photographer-friend David Pasillas (if you don’t follow him, please start!) because he is a photoshopping wizard, and because he has a spectacular ability to analyze the psychology of an image.
“What does that mean?” you say. Well, let me tell you!
This was the email I sent to David:
Why….? I can’t figure out how to make this look the way I want it to look. I know that’s not a lot to go on, but you’re an editing wizard. Make it work?
I’ll have you know I crawled out of my warm bed to have a look in photoshop. Here’s what I see…I feel like a doctor about to deliver the bad news haha…
I don’t think it is going to make it.
The vignette throws the water off for me. Somehow there are dark shadows and very bright highlights on the lake. It’s a little distracting to me. Maybe if the middle of the water wasn’t so bright, the scene would work better.
The rocks in the foreground seem like they’re not going to work either because the mountains in the background are totally blacked out. That tells my brain that the rocks in the foreground should be really dark too, or at the very least, have much deeper shadows.
Don’t tell David I said this…but he is right. The prognosis wasn’t good.
I really took what he said to heart, thinking about the way our brains process information and what looks “normal” to our eyes. Raw files give us the ability to do a lot of crazy things to an image…I’ve seen snaps that used to be a total loss turn into great images with some work. But doing that requires a lot of work and thinking on our – the editors – end of things.
In my case, I realized that I had spent a bit too much time in portfolio-land, and needed to flip the switch to “landscapes” in my brain. In general, the skills needed to process different genres of images are the same…however, they may not be applied in the same fashion or amounts. I wasn’t thinking about the subtlety of light across a quiet lake…I was still stuck in the multi-portrait workflow.
So…back to square one! I took a better (more meticulous) approach to this one and came out with something I could, at the very least, post on the internet. Haha