I had a great learning experience this week and I thought I’d risk being long winded and share it with you all. I recently posted a photograph that I called Red Sky at Night and I was pretty well pleased with it. I’ve recently been working with luminosity masking and my main source of inspiration has been the tutorials of Sean Bagshaw who is a fine photographer and wonderful teacher. I had a few technical questions that I wanted to ask him and I have found in the past that he is very much available to help out where he can. But, then at the last minute, I decided I would send along the Red Sky photograph and see if he would give me feedback on that. He got back to me right away and his response was very insightful and you can see the results when you compare the photos below. While what he said was in reference to my image in particular it certainly applies to any image and well worth considering when processing.
His main advice to me regarding this or any photograph is to be very aware of tonal balancing in the transition zones. This is particularly important where there is high dynamic range. In my photograph the transition zones are primarily where the horizon meets the sky. If the tonal balancing is off it will have a jarring effect on the eye of the viewer even if he or she isn’t conscious of why. So, for example, in my photograph, given the level and angle of light in the sky, the foreground was unnaturally bright. Sean’s point was, it doesn’t feel right and once he pointed it out I had to admit that it didn’t. His suggestion was the I lower the brightness slightly but up the contrast considerably (increasing the contrast automatically darkens while retaining detail in the shadows so that is a good strategy in this case.) He also recommended that I bring up the brightness along the horizon and feather it up into the sky so that the highlighted clouds aren’t affected. These were two very easy things to do and while they certainly weren’t earth shattering changes I think the difference is striking. Through tonal balancing in this way the image seems much more natural and actually has a lot more pop without becoming garish or surreal.
I was really thrilled to get that kind of personalized input from a great teacher and I thought I’d pass it on.
Red-Sky-at-Night.jpg 872.36KB 0 downloads
Red-Sky-at-Night-TB.jpg 868.14KB 0 downloads