Monday, January 19, 2015

Photo Challenge #7: I'm Burning For You

After playing along with Erin's 30 Word Thursday weekly challenge on her Treasures Found Blog for the past year I have finally taken the plunge and started taking photography more seriously.  Starting with my iPhone, I soon found that the limitations of that device were getting to me.  Upgrading to a Cannon Eos Digital Rebel SL1 camera, I've started experimenting more with technique.  I have also invested in Photoshop Elements 12 and most of my post-production on photos will be from that program.  As a way to force myself to try new things, I'm doing a weekly photo challenge--each week focusing on a different photography or editing technique.  Some of these may be simple and others more difficult.  I encourage any of my readers to take part in the challenge!  Without further ado and with all apologies to Blue Oyster Cult:

I'm Burning For You

For this challenge we will be trying out the classic photography method of Burning In.  In the old days of film, this technique was used during the developing process to darken areas of the film selectively.  One would basically hold a tinted or opaque card with central clear area over the developing film--allowing more light to hit a specific area of the print and hence more exposure.  This resulted in a darker or "burned in" area where you want it.  Now with photo editing programs one can imitate this effect with much less trial and error.  So this week take a picture--preferably one where the contrast isn't as great as you would like it--and use this technique to add more contrast or shadow to select areas of the photo.  Just a hint, the following week's challenge will be the opposite of this effect: Dodging!  For super extra credit I'd like to see both techniques used on one picture.

The technique I'm using in these pictures is not quite the pre-programmed Burn In settings on Photoshop Elements, but approximates the effect pretty well and is easy to do.  First take the picture you want and move it to the Editor using the Expert tab.  Now use the very far right upper corner arrow down menu and from there choose New Layer.  Move down to Overlay and click the little box right below that drop-down to make it use a gray base.  Next choose the paintbrush tool off to the left side of the screen with medium soft brush at about 30% opacity to start.  Choose the size based on what areas you are going to alter.  Next click D on the keypad and this will change the foreground color (click between Black and White by using X) you want Black as your Burn In foreground.  Hint: Dodging works the same way exactly, but you use White as foreground color.  Next you simply use the paintbrush to scrub over the areas you want darker and this semi-opaque darker contrast area will appear!

For the first time in seemingly months we had sun!  And shadows!

Not to be pleased with regular old shadows from the trees, I wanted them to really POP with more contrast.

1) Blue Snow Woman:  This picture was taken just yesterday at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden.  Our friend Kathleen (a big art fan) was in town and paid our way in to see some modern art!  For this  I liked the effect of the tree limb shadows on this big sculpture, but wanted a more dramatic statement.

2) Waterfall:  This was the first waterfall I shot and I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.  I was trying to mess with slower shutter speed but did not have a tripod at this point, so the camera was resting on a bench to limit motion.  I liked the effect but the sunlight on the trees in the foreground made them stand out more than the white water I wanted to be the focus of the shot.

Not the best picture ever, but I was experimenting with slower shutter speeds.  

I used the Dodge technique to accentuate and lighten the white water, bringing it out more without significantly changing the look.
I used the Burn In technique around the bright edges (almost making a vignette) to darken them a bit without losing the color.
After both effects this is still not a great shot, but the eye is drawn more to the water in the center of the shot rather than the bright leaves.  I'll be trying a similar effect when it gets warm again and I can get back to the Arboretum!

An InLinkz Link-up

For Photo Challenge #8: Dodge This (to be posted next Monday), we will be trying Dodging.  While Burning In over exposes areas to make them darker, Dodging covers up areas of the film to decrease exposure and lighten the areas.  Again, this used to be a manual hands-on effect done at the time of developing, with an opaque or semi-opaque object/sheet held over the developing film.  Now we can do this easily with Photoshop Elements (and others) without the risk of ruining the film.  Bonus for doing both effects on one picture like I did above with the waterfall.

No comments: