Friday, 8 August 2014

Over the top

When it comes to processing my photographs I try to keep things as restricted as possible. In the darkroom (read 'bathroom') all I ever did was vary the exposure and the grade of paper. In all honesty the paper never seemed to make much difference. Dodging and burning was beyond my abilities and the capabilities of my cheap and nasty enlarger.

In the digital darkroom dodging and burning is a doddle. As is altering contrast, colours and all manner of other things. Because it's so simple it's also all too easy to go too far. But every now and then a file opens in Lightroom which demands a bit more than my usual treatments in order to make it something else.

There's been an old second world war helmet hanging in my slowly decaying shed for years. It's a long story how the helmet came to be there, but when I went in to get my slasher yesterday evening there was a sliver of light falling on the helmet, now surrounded by ivy and cobwebs, which gave the scene a melancholy air. Perhaps with thoughts of the recent WW1 commemorations in mind I went to get a camera and take some photos. One of them was better exposed than the rest - that shaft of late sun in the shade made exposure tricky. Better to expose for the highlight and hope that processing would lift the shadows without too much detriment.
Although I prefer to make colour photographs these days this one wasn't working. First I made it black and white, then I gave it an aged look. This seemed to fit the subject, which for once was in keeping with a nostalgic feel. Then it was a matter of getting the contrast and detail I wanted, partly by altering the overall tones, partly by playing with the colour sliders to lighten the ivy leaves, and also by using a brush to dodge the top portion of the frame and bring out the leaves there. Finally a vignette was added. It took me a lot longer than just putting an 'S' curve in the tone curve! I think it works well enough for what was, essentially, a quick snap.

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