We hear a lot about Photoshop being used to make models impossibly thin, or remove every sign of wrinkles from someone’s face. Photoshop is no longer the day-to-day photo adjustment app (that’s Lightroom’s job); but it is an invaluable tool for a certain type of photo related work: masking and compositing.
The image below shows the before and after versions of an image. Clearly the before was shot for graphic design use, as it lacks the foreground element to make it a final image in its own right. However, that’s exactly what’s needed to create the type of commercial image required to advertise this gelato cart business.
This type of image makes it possible to create business cards, brochures, and websites before the cart is actually available. In fact, the “Photoshopping” of the cart into the scene is not the only digital trickery here; the cart does not actually exist, it is a rendering produced prior to building the cart for final okay of paint color and graphics.
If the final image below leaves you hungering for gelato, and you are looking to hire such a cart for a special occasion in the Miami area, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and inquire about availability. Buon appetito!
The shot below is a workmanlike architectural image of a beautiful set of doors. Distracting elements surrounding the doorway have been cropped out, the perspective has been corrected within reason, and the exposure and shadow detail set to tell the whole story as clearly as possible.
But is this the most interesting, and salable, image of this subject matter? Lets start with a decision to avoid the paper sign duct taped to the door. And to try to get a sense of the imposing scale of these doors, sized for a deity, not mere humans. Setting the exposure, color, and white balance to a moodier, less literal options could also add impact. And leaving the image as a part, not the whole, of the doorway creates a sense of mystery. The image below is based on these, and other, decisions. It is far more likely to sell, especially as stock, then the more straightforward image above. C. David Tobie
Layering is a powerful tool to add interest and dimension to images. When shots fall flat, it is useful to scout for interesting foreground elements that can be added to the composition. Foreground images which can be silhouetted can be particularly powerful in framing the shot.
The elegant hotel in this image had been shot in previous sessions, but without producing a sufficiently interesting result, even using the fountain as a foreground element. The old man sitting on the bench offered the perfect opportunity to layer a more interesting and dynamic image. And silhouetting eliminated issues with recognizable faces and image usage restrictions. C. David Tobie
It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of focus in an image. Today, the only images a photographer is likely to trash from a session are those that are out of focus, or focused in the wrong plane. Selective focus, using a specialty lens or software effects, can produce very powerful images. But the intent of the image must align with the focus of the image, or the intent will be significantly weakened.
In the image above, if the goal is to move the eye up the spire, then that is working nicely. If it is to stop at the top of the spire, perhaps with a “which way the wind blows” reference, then the image has a real problem: the clouds above the weathervane are significantly sharper than the weathervane itself. However, if the image is intended to point to heaven, or to the blue sky breaking though, or some similar intent where the sky and clouds, not the spire, are the final goal, then it will succeed. For stock use, producing multiple focal point images of such a shot, would be wise; as the designer, not the photographer, gets to decide where the emphasis needs to lie.
One point perspective is a powerful tool, creating tunnel-like symmetry and focus on whatever is at, or in front of, the vanishing point. But we nearly always use one point as a horizontal tool, looking down a corridor, tunnel, or street.
There is a second orientation which can be utilized for one point perspectives, one that still respects the rectangular geometry of most architecture. That is vertical one point. The image below is an even less common type of one point: an exterior vertical one point perspective. Typically exterior one point shots are reserved for creating powerful visuals in redwood groves or amongst other tall trees.
Here the mix of tall architecture, a convent bell tower, and Cypress trees, provides the encroaching elements from all four sides, which make a one-point work. Lighting provides a second layer to the image. But the single element that adds a living story to the shot is the crow, heading towards its nest in the belfry. The bird, and its relation to the belfry, was sufficiently important to my vision of this image that I took the best shot from the series, then rotated the crow 180 degrees, so that he was flying towards, not away from the nest. Other images had that direction of flight, but not that clarity of silhouette, so this edit offered the best solution to tell the story.
Part of landscape photography is the scouting of possible locations, and noting the best time of year, time of day, and weather conditions for shooting in each spot. However, this constant judging of the ideal can blind us to the beauty of the moment. The shot included with this article was taken in February, hardly the ideal month for photography in Tuscany. And it would be easy to become caught up in what the summer light, and the blooming roses, would do for this facade.
However there are aspects of this scouting shot that make it an interesting image in its own right. The hint of winter sky reflected in the window adds context. The Miller’s Thumb prospering by the steps, despite the season, adds life to the image, and the copper compounds sprayed on the rose bushes leaves a wonderful turquoise tint, that highlights the wintery forms of the bare rose bushes. The classic stone and brick colors of Tuscany are also different, under the cooler light. Overall this forms a palette of Tuscan Winter colors unique from the Summer colors we are accustomed to associating with Tuscany.
I’ve just completed judging the PhoozL Photography Contest of the Week. This week’s theme was Architectural Night Photography. From my overview:
“I was impressed by the quality of images submitted to the ‘Architecture Nights’ photo contest. Many were classic city skylines, with dramatic sunsets or colorful water reflections. A few stood out by offering unique perspectives or content, something that will stick with me and effect my vision in the future; which is always an important criteria for me when judging images.”
Here is the link on Phoozl to read more, to see the winners, and to read the critiques of them. Thanks to Harald Johnson for inviting me to participate in this PhoozL event.