Digital Editing & Composition

In these days thanks to digital cameras, the ability to tweak the pictures is even easier.  In most higher level cameras, you are able to capture your images in RAW  format.    If your camera is capable of shooting in that format you always should.  It is actual “pre-processed”.  Once it is converted to JPG, TIF, or any other standard graphic format, certain aspects of the image are locked in. In tge RAW format, you can make adjustments to the white balance, contrast, color saturation, and sharpening.  The disadvantage of RAW files is that they are big and take up lots of hard drive space.

In the old days of film, we had to scan either the negative or the print, which added another layer of degradation.  With that layer removed, it opens up a lot of possibilities.  Rather than try to describe every aspect  of the digital modification, I’ll save a few thousand words, and say it with pictures.  Here is the original picture:Original RAW image

The colors are washed out and the rainbow doesn’t stand out too well.  Since the file was still in RAW format, I was able to adjust those things, until I came out with the following:

Tweaked image

I left the branch on the far right, because it sort leads the viewer’s eye to the rainbow.  Your eye follows the arc of the rainbow to the clouds and moves across the image from right to left. Your mind looks for the other end of the rainbow coming out of the clouds.  Nature was not cooperating, and I felt there needed to be something where, the end of the rainbow would be.  A pot of gold crossed my mind, but was a little to cliché.  I had another picture of two ladies walking along the beach, with the reflection in the shallow water washing into shore.  When I first cut and pasted them into this image, the angle of the water on the beach was totally  wrong.  So I had to edit out everything but the ladies and their reflections.  They were n the top layer, so as I erased the things around them the tweaked original showed through.  It took me over four hours, and I did the editing with the image blown up to 800%,  I wanted the result to be accurate enough, that from the gallery image a poster size 20″ x 30″ photo could be printed.  Sound the drum roll, here is the resulting image.  BTW all three of these images are low resolution, so I didn’t have to put the big copyright symbol on them.  You can view the full resolution image here.  Remember that most browsers resize the image to fit on your screen.  In most cases, your cursor changes from an arrow to a magnifying glass to show this.  You must keep clicking on the picture until the cursor changes back into  an arrow, to reach the maximum resolution on any image.  Then you can see the true detail.


In closing, let’s finish on the the viewer’s eye path. The angle I shot the beach was lower on the left, and higher on the right.  This angle draws the eye back into the starting path, of the branch pointing at the rainbow.  This circular path draws the eye into the photo, and keeps the focus within the image.  This composition, also conforms to the rule of thirds, which is a good subject for another blog post.

Unique Perspectives

Sometimes events are so rare, or happen so seldom, that you feel extra pressure to capture it correctly. I know that every moment in each of our lives is unique, but I’m thinking of things like the recent “blood moon”. It had been 33 years since the last one, and won’t happen for another 18 years. We get ready for a photo shoot like this as best we can. We clean our lenses meticulously, make sure we have spare batteries, and maybe even study other’s methods of shooting in the past. In my case the event came and went with a cloud cover over Central Florida, that obscured all of it. What made it worse, was this was on my birthday.

I channeled my frustration into finding a new event to chronicle. Hurricane Joaquin was passing the Florida coast far out to sea, but creating much larger waves than usual. There is an outcropping of coquina rock, that is the second largest anywhere in the world along the Atlantic coast. It is located about an hour north of Daytona Beach in Washington Oaks State Park. I had not been there in probably twenty or thirty years. My memory of its location have conveniently forgotten that it was about a quarter mile hike to the rocks, from the entrance to the beach. We had planned the shoot for high tide. The waves would be smashing into the rocks most dramatically then.coquinabeachwaves01 That also meant slogging our way through soft sand with waves often reaching our knees or higher. Add to that an extra ten or so pounds of extra camera equipment, and you have a real challenge for someone who is far from good health. But this time the even wasn’t going to slip through my fingers.

I took about 700 shots, that I am still working my way through. I had one that jumped out as a really good candidate for HDRI, which is posted below in low resolution. beachdock01_hdriThe one further up is just a quick choice. I still have so many similar ones to pour through.