Informative, technical, never-ending.. Jason covered everything he could in 90 minutes!
The medium of digital photography takes a bit of heat because artists “Photoshop” their images. Jason addressed this by pointing out that film photographers did the same thing in darkrooms nearly 150 years ago. Certainly some artists had deceptive intent, but the landscape photographer Ansel Adams (of which Jason is a fan) was not one of them. Adams used the negative from the camera as a starting point (the “sheet music”), and then used extensive darkroom techniques to selectively bring out details and emphasize parts of the image how ever he saw fit (the “performance”).
Jason is a photographer who uses similar methods but works with completely digital equipment. (Nikon D300s digital camera, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop)
The weekend before the demo, he took a series of images in western Oklahoma near an old abandoned town called Heman (on Google Maps). One portion of the landscape contains a washed-out creek bed in the foreground, and one of the ‘flats’ in the background. (Jason heard from one of the locals that this place is called “Heman Flats”. Despite the nonexistent town appearing on Google Maps, the rock formations are not listed.)
Jason planned ahead for this shot. He used the light meter in his camera to see the difference between the foreground and the background. He took the image below, which exposed most of the scene, but the sky came out nearly white.
Even though the cloud detail doesn’t exist in the first image, this is not a problem. He took a second exposure, this time making sure that nothing in the sky was overexposed. Not surprisingly, this turned the ground extremely dark.
Now for the fun part of combining the two images and getting the best parts from each one. Use Photoshop to layer the two images on top of eachother, and use Layer Masks (the black and white images to the right of each layer) to ‘poke holes’ in the top layer and expose parts of the bottom layer. To boost the contrast and color density, insert Adjustment Layers (see the ‘curve’ icon in several layers below). Masks can also be applied to adjustment layers, so you can use the adjustments to affect only portions of the image.
This process is similar to the layering techniques involved in painting. After “poking and prodding” at the highlights, shadows, and color, the final image will contain a range of values that the camera simply couldn’t deliver in a simple exposure:
Our next meeting will be on January 25, 2010, and will feature oil painter Rick McClure.