Monday, February 23, 2015

Photo Challenge #12: I Like Them Curvy...

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! 

I Like Them Curvy

Last week we dealt with textures and abstracts to get a different take on things.  This week we focus on a special section of Photoshop Elements (not sure if other programs have the same nomenclature) called Curves.  I have not messed with these settings at all and felt it was time to push myself to try something more unusual and new.  So much of what you can do with these photo editing programs is "under the hood" so to speak and one would never know it was in there at all until someone tells you about it.

Curves for black & white photos are used to change the light character in the picture.  One can lighten the highlights, mid-tones, or shadows to get a different effect.  Or you can darken them.  This allows for some fancy manipulation of just an isolated aspect of the photo without just darkening/lightening the entire thing with the brightness/contrast settings.  Just a little more control.  The picture I used for this looked very different on my large screen Mac at home but on the laptop really didn't look much different so I left it off.

For color photos one can do the same thing, but by taking things to the extreme settings you can get some really cool but wacky effects.

Like I said...pretty wacky!  But I like this effect.  I tried this on a few nature pictures but they looked really unnatural so I scrapped them.  Seemed to work best on structural photos with strong lines.

This was taken in Maastrict, Netherlands last spring.  The light wasn't amazing but I really like this picture.

Using the Curves setting I was able to brighten up the mid-tones adding a warmer feel and bringing out more detail in the reflections on the water.

For the final bit, I went back to a technique from a few weeks ago and Burned-In the clouds, making them a bit more dark and bringing out more detail in them.  
So there you go!  Messing with Curves to get a bit more complexity and control in your post-production.  While it is still best to take a great picture in the first place, sometimes the lighting or conditions are not perfect and you need to tweak things to get closer to what you actually saw.

Feel free to take part in the challenge and post your web/blog page below.

Next week we will be working with The Orton Effect!  This is a technique originated by Michael Orton in the 1980's where he would sandwich two slides together--one in sharp focus and the other underexposed.  This results in a strange and possibly dreamy or trippy effect.  Nowadays most photo editing programs can do this easily.  The trick is to find the right picture to use this on.  Start getting to work!

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