Difficulty: Medium to Hard. It does require software to manipulate the digital photo files and then some skill with using these programs. Not all software can perform all the changes you want to make and it may require several programs.
Projects are normally synonymous with work but if done correctly, can and should be play. In this article I will list creative ideas that you can use to structure a learning opportunity and at the same time make it playful.
Playing around is not normally a project so to make it one, take one or several of the suggestions and to try it on 5 to 10 images or try many images and try for 5 you like the final result.
When you play around long enough some better images will develop. As a project try and get 5 or whatever number you want for each category or theme you want to play with.
The benefits for playing around with digital files will be to learn to see how colour and light re-act. Most of the adjustments being made will affect image contrast, colour hue and saturation and by observing how image focal points or interest as relationship to viewer changes as the image tones change.
This should lead to think more about compositions, light quality, its direction before a shoot and then how better to process and image to achieve the desired effect.
This is a lot easier than adjusting the real environment in front of you.
Hue & Sat Adjustments
In the above image the colours of the plant leaves (Yellow and Greens) were adjusted in ACR by using the Hue/Sat/Lum sliders before loading into Photoshop.
The below image was the final version I selected.
When doing selective color adjustments, I use this adjustment method the most as it has the expanded set of colours and by loading it as an object I can always go back and fine-tune any adjustment later on.
This range can also be created in the standard adjustment provided you could fine-tune each colour range to a tighter set. See article
In this image of the house in the fields of Norway I was examining different solutions for making an 11”x14” printed image. Again this was achieved by adjustment in ACR and then also using some versions with different blending modes.
In the above examples the changes were on a global scale without the use of masks.
Selective Color Adjustment
There are photos where there are central subjects but because of lighting or background colours the image doesn’t quite stand out.
Changing the colour and tone of backgrounds can make for interesting combinations of effects.
The flowers are the original colour and the colour of just the background weed was changed. All the remaining greens were de-saturated as the original brighter now colour clashed with the orange leaves.
Changed the red of the hibiscus to blue, this contrast made the yellow seem brighter. All the reaming background was toned to a dark B&W.
This was a happy accident when I used a different blend mode. This looks really wonderful printed large on mat paper. The fine colours and shapes in the violet mass become more visible.
The practice I enjoy the most is changing one of the layers blending mode and watching what happens. I tend to select the first mode and then with the down arrow just step through all the blending modes. Most results are too radical and more like pop art but there are parts that with opacity adjustments can produce interesting focal points for an image. Sometimes I use the layers property adjustments to reduce the tonal range for applied effect.
In the B&W and conversion I wanted the purple flower to be almost pure white and the tip of the spikes as dark as possible to emphasize their spikes. The thistle was placed against a grey background. I used several background layers set to darken mode to create a pattern which complimented the roundness of objects and the spike pattern with tiny whiter points.
With editing programs that allow you to add layers, overlapping 2 images or more and then combining them into a new scene can take you to a place that you have never been before.
This image was a combination of a large rock wall at the edge of a driveway and an image of a large pond on another part of the property. The background image was chosen so that elements such as the rocks, cloud and sky shapes and tree branch clumps all re-enforce the shape of main boulder or rock face.
The sky was a perfect blue but that didn’t add to the more gothic mood of the clock tower and gargoyles. By replacing the clear sky with clouds, the mood of the whole image is tied together. I lightened a line from the top right towards the clock face to add visual movement. This was also complemented by slightly darkening the other 3 corners.
There are certain images, mostly B&W that when the image is inverted it now forms a new unique image.
These are only some suggestions as there are many other ideas to play with such day-to-night images etc.
The most important part is to play with the editing parts. See what develops and learn which images work best with desired effect.
I would love to hear your ideas and even see some of your images. Please post suggestions or link to any images you have made.
Next Project: Get Your Rhythm Going
Next Project: Get Your Rhythm Going