#185 – Royal Photographic Society Portfolio – part 3 Post processing

As discussed in a previous post, I’d never really got into doing lots of local adjustments to my images, more global ones. The concept wasn’t new to me, as I’d done it in the darkroom at college, but had never followed through and done that much of it digitally.

With my final selection pretty much frozen, I re-visited pretty much every image and took another look at nearly all of them. Some were pretty much the finished article, others required vast amounts of work.

Certain things were easy – burnt out highlights are an absolute no-no, so highlighting areas and using levels to bring back some grey was easy, but the headaches began when I looked at the images that I’d previously done using HDR. Close examination showed halos and jagged edges, reasons I’d stopped using the technique in the first place. So, even though the image looked OK at normal size, it looked awful at magnifications of 50-100% and even when printed large it didn’t look great. So a number of images were an outright start from scratch with the raw file, although a couple of HDR images survived, one untouched, one with some additional local adjustments.

The selective colour question

I’d originally planned on having just the one selective colour image (green door), for reasons of balance, but I then decided that the image at Backbarrow Ironworks was worthy of inclusion. This left me with a headache as I couldn’t figure out how or where to include them in the sequence – it just didn’t work. I was left with the dilemma of either leaving one out or finding another image to do in selective colour. Unfortunately, these were the only two images I’d ever done using this technique. After hours of exhaustive searching, I eventually stumbled across the photo of a foxglove at Dinorwic slate quarry that I thought might have potential. While it was easier to cut out than the fern at Backbarrow (cutting out my own appendix would have been easier and less painful) it was still a right pain in the arse, which should serve as a reminder to anyone who insists on using this technique that the results rarely match the efforts. But still, I had something which when viewed as a panel, looked reasonably cohesive.

One important thing is to get a similar ‘look’ to all the images, by which I mean in terms of contrast, etc. This was a headache as the images had all been taken at different places, at different times, in different light and processed at different times. However, they’re all broadly the same idea – high contrast with heavy blacks and greys, but I took a bit of a leap of faith with a lot of them, and hoped that the assessors showed some discretion. Where I was completely starting again with images it was relatively easy to get a similar look as I was using Nik Silver Efex to do my conversions, and the settings I was using in this were broadly the same.

In the end, the panel looked reasonably cohesive. The biggest worry was whether I would be able to get them looking as I wanted on paper, but that’s for a future post!

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