It all depends on the photograph that I am taking as to how I will work it to a finish. This may sound a bit long-winded, but to really understand how my photograph is being worked, it all comes together in a picture that you see in my portfolio on Redbubble!

Most of my photographs have been taken in RAW, with my digital camera, Canon EOS 350D and EOS 20D. Not that this should make any difference to the image. Sometimes I will create an image with Sophia’s camera which is a compact zoom 8. Megapix. “Trapped in the light” was taken with that camera and was taken in JPG for ease of use.

As for “Searching for Spring” , this image was HDR processed. To do this I have taken three images of the same, making sure that the camera is solid on a tripod, to avoid moving it from position. I then take three exposures of the same image.
1 photograph is taken two stop over exposed, 1 photograph is taken two stops under exposed and the other 1 is correctly exposed. The subject, in Sophia’s case had to remain absolutely still down to her eyes, which is hard for a five year old to do! But she was a very good girl and it has taken her all the concentration to do it, and it is that what has given her this serious look bless her. I had no intention to portray her as an evil child, so that is something to watch out for when using HDR on youngsters!

I always prefer to use natural surroundings and available light from that surrounding. I don’t like using flash, because I feel it can destroy the mood that natural light can create for me.

For instance, the HDR method that I have used on Sophia in the mentioned image, the sun is behind her. To use flash would have completely changed the feel and the mood of the photography. Try this for yourself and look at the difference in your pictures and see what I mean? The type of light you use determines the mood that you want to create! This is true for any kind of photography.

To create HDR images, I have downloaded Photomatix basic from Google search, and this is FREE! Any one who is interested in HDR? There is a group in RB that may be very useful and helpful to learn.

Enhance Photo > Photo Fix
After I’ve HDR’d “Searching for Spring” in Photomatix basic, I opened this picture in Corel paintshop pro XI. In this software, I have “Enhance Photo” and open to “Smart Photo Fix”. This tool has several applications to darken or lighten the shadow area without affecting the over all photograph. The Overall slider affects the whole of the image by darkening or lighting it. A little bit like fill in light. The Highlight slider only affects the highlights of your picture. Then there is the Saturation slider and Focus slider, when you’ve finished, you click OK! I use this on most of my photographs to improve the overall appearance.

Selection tool/Lasso tool
Now, I want to isolate and section areas that I feel needs working on without affecting the rest of my photograph! To do this I love the lasso tool or the selection tool that looks like a lasso. I zoom right into the picture for maximum control but leave enough room so that I can still recognise the edges that I need to go around with my selection tool. To select the horizon or the sky, I try to avoid the trees and bushes if I can, for they can get to dark or even black and will ruin the picture.

Before I lasso, I decide what effect I want with the Feather tool from the select tool. This will determine if the edges are going to be smooth and straight, which would be 0! Or if I want a layering or vignette effect around the subject? This would be from 1 – 200! I suggest you should experiment to get to know how the feather effect looks on your work. This is all down to personal preferences. It is a bit like, how much salt do you like on your food?

Adjust > Brightness and Contrast > Curves
Once the portion has been selected and I have lassoed around the sky, I will go into Adjust > Brightness and Contrast > Curves, select curves! A box comes up and you see your selected part of the image in a window. This is the part that is going to be worked on. In my case, I want to darken the sky and bring out the drama of the clouds.

In the box there is a diagonal line. Grab the middle of the line and move it about. You will see how the selected part is changing in contrast. I drag the middle of the line slightly down until I am happy with the result, and then click ok!

Get familiar with the different tools and experiment with them! This is what I do and am still learning. I build up my experience through experimenting. The result is seen in my portfolio in Redbubble for all to see!

Invert selection
If I want to save time and work on the foreground of the picture, while the sky is still selected. I go into Selection and click on Invert. Or you tap on “Alt + Shift + I” to invert my selection. Now my foreground is selected and the sky deselected.

In the case of “Searching for Spring” I only selected Sophia by lassoing all around her and the Feather on 0. I needed to bring out detail that would otherwise be lost.
I have tried several applications, like Levels, Curves and even Histogram Adjustment.
These can all be found in, Adjust > Brightness and Contrast. Trying very hard to keep her in harmony with her surrounding. The same was also done with the table that Sophia stood on.

Finally to the black and white effect!

Adjust > Color > Channel Mixer
This method applies to most of my black and white images, whether they are a straight shot or have been enhanced first. I go into Adjust > Color > Channel Mixer, tick the Monochrome box. Red will default to 100, while green and blue to 0. This usually turns the blue sky very dark, and the skin or anything that has red in it very pale to white.

A good guidance that I have learned from someone was, to make sure that, which ever way you choose to move the slider to maintain a total of 100%. As an example only;
Red% -40, Green% 28, Blue% 112, and it adds up 100%! Play about with that to get a feel for how this makes your black and white photograph look.
If the red lightens red, the green slider should lighten anything green and the blue, blue!
Use your judgement and then click ok. But make sure you don’t burn out any highlights in your photograph. This can look ugly if it is overdone. Once I am satisfied, I click ok and move on to the next treatment.

Adjust > Brightness and Contrast > Histogram Adjustment.
To finish of my picture I will go into Adjust > Brightness and Contrast > Histogram Adjustment. There is a slider on the side that will affect the contrast of the image. Slide it down, the contrast increases. Slide it up and it will decrease. I like to increase the contrast, trying not to burn out highlights in Sophia’s face. On the bottom of the box of the histogram there are little triangles,
Low Gamma High
Move the middle triangle Gamma towards the high, and will bring out details in the shadow area. While moving towards the Low, it will bring out details in the highlights.
That is where the selection tool will also be useful if you don’t want to affect the rest of the picture but only one aspect. Click ok and I am almost done!

Final finishing touches!

Learning centre > Home > Effects > film and filter
Corel Paintshop XI have this extra facility that I love t use for effects. It has a learning centre > home > effects > film and filter. I love the Glamour and Warming, which I have been using with “Trapped in the light”. And finally save the finished work which you get to see on Redbubble if I am happy with it!

Thank you all who have shown so much interest in my work and wanted to know about how I did them? I hope it makes sense and is easy enough to follow?

My best regards


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