Enhancing the Image...(The Power of Photoshop)

Hey guys. I wanted to share with all of you a photo that I had taken here in Sedona. I am a huge believer in getting it right in the camera. There's no amount of photoshop in the world that can fix an uninteresting photograph. When I was studying photography in college, we always used to say, "Garbage in...Garbage Out..." and that really is true. Now, arguably, nature doesn't always play nice. Sometimes, a little bit of photoshop magic can salvage an otherwise average shot. Photographers often don't reveal their particular photoshop editing techniques, mainly because they aren't confident in what they produced, or they think it degrades the purity of the art form. What matters is the end product. Start with a well exposed image, good composition, and an interesting subject, and voila, you're now "recycling" your image instead of trying to save "garbage". For example, in the image below, I shot this at around 4:00PM in December sunlight. It was a solid overcast day for most of the day except for this brief window of light overlooking Cathedral Rock. I thought to myself, "well, it's not ideal, but hey...how often am I in Sedona?" I made sure to nail the 3 basic rules to any great shot: subject, composition, and exposure. I originally placed the image online, and Chris (being the photoshop guru that he is), went through and did a hand-edit of my photo. Now, when I say hand-edit, I don't mean he applied a whole bunch of expensive filters to make the photo look better; what I mean is that he went through and accentuated the best parts of the photograph.

For example, in any great photograph, especially in landscape, the differences in highlight and shadow are what give the scene its unique look and feel. It was an ominous day, except for this one beam of beautiful light illuminating a masterpiece of nature. However, as beautiful as it was, the shadows and highlights just weren't dramatic enough under an overcast softbox in the sky. Chris went through and added in some dynamic lighting. This is achieved through selectively "dodging" and "burning" highlights and shadows to give them more contrast against each other. If you look in the upper left hand corner of the image, you'll see the original photograph. I think I was using a Cloudy white balance, which warmed up the clouds unnaturally. Chris desaturated the sky using some transparent gradients in photoshop. If you look in the bottom right hand corner, you'll see how Chris "enhanced" the image by adding additional contrast and punching up the differences between highlights and shadows. This made the rock appear much more pronounced and gave it added clarity and definition.

I really was impressed with how well Chris edited the image, and I wanted to note it in our blog. Understanding light and how it interacts with your subject is the single most important concept a photographer must grasp. It's not something you can just learn from a book, rather, it is understood through practice, experimenting, and of course, mistakes. Chris has a thorough command of this concept, and I have to say that KKP is very fortunate to have such a talented photographer/editor on our team.

Thanks for the edit Chris! (I'm sure he'll send me a bill later...) ha.

More photography to follow!