Trying to capture the light

Started Apr 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
jbf
jbf
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Re: Trying to capture the light
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, May 2, 2013

GreenMountainGirl wrote:

jbf wrote:

...the better you get at seeing how the light will affect your photos, the better your photos will be.  It's debatable as to whether anything is more important when it comes to photography. 

I agree - I've been working on this, obviously haven't mastered it yet.  Of course, we are always gathering light when taking pictures, but putting it all together with lines and shapes is a challenge.

I do have a great tip for seeing and editing light in post processing.  ...The key is to temporarily remove the color from your photo because color distorts your perception of light.

The method you describe sounds good, but LR4 does not do layers.  I also have PSE 11, which has some layer capabilities, but I haven't learned how to do this yet.  The whole program is confusing for me.  I can, however, convert to B&W - would this work as well as "removing the color"?

I've never used LR4.  My guess is that whatever B&W command it has will be similar to the Photoshop Desaturate command which unfortunately doesn't do a very good job of converting to B&W.  The Desaturate menu command does its own processing to adjust the tonal values.  For the technique I described, you don't want the software to change the values.  Not only does the Desaturate command change them, it does it in a bad way that yields a poor conversion.  However, it's still worthwhile to run Desaturate in LR4 just to take a quick look at each of your photos with the color removed.  It will reveal a lot about how well you used the light in your photographs.  Photos where the light provides the right amount of brightness and contrast in the right locations within the frame will pop off the screen, and if your photographic skills are similar to mine, most of your photos will look flat and dull in B&W (but seeing them that way will be a good learning experience).  Just undo the edit after you've looked at it since it probably won't be worth saving, and keep in mind that the Desaturate command you are using is manipulating the lighting at least a little bit and not giving a perfectly accurate representation of how well you captured the light.

You can perform the technique I described in my previous post using PSE 11.  You don't have to know much about layers.  If you can follow the 3 steps to add the Black Fill layer as I described, then you will see two bars in the Layers palette.  The top bar will display a small icon filled with black and the bottom bar will display a small icon containing your image.  Just click on the bottom bar with the icon of your image.  The bar will change color to indicate it is selected.  With the image layer bar selected you can edit the image as you normally would.  The only difference is that you won't see the color in your image window due to the added layer.  When you're done editing or if you want to see the color to do more editing, click and drag the top bar with the black icon to the little trash can at the bottom of the palette.  That will delete the Black Fill layer that is hiding the color.

I strongly recommend learning to use Adjustment Layers in PSE at some point.  Adjustment Layers allow you to use the Paint Brush tool to paint more Brightness onto your photo as well as painting to darken the image (not black paint, but darken the values).  You can also add or remove contrast with the stroke of a brush.  It gives you very fine control over how you manipulate the image because you can change the brush size, hardness, and opacity.  Another huge benefit is that it's easy to undo or to make small tweaks to any edit without affecting any other edits regardless of whether or not you've made a dozen other changes since you made the original edit (in most cases).  The main reason I use Adjustment layers is that it's much more fun to paint my edits with a brush than to use automated commands and sliders.  It does take a little while to master the interface and to get used to a paint brush that can add and remove contrast with the stroke of a brush.  I wrote some tutorials a long time ago that I could post again if you're interested.

jbf

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