OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, I’m guilty of tweeking.  I put the images sent to me through photoshop before I publish them in Camera Clips.


Bruce exclaimed -“Did I really take that picture?”.  Yes – you did.  It’s terrific. Do I apologise? No. I am unleashing the potential of the photograph, I’m not changing it (too much).  I think he liked what I did, and was keen for me to explain how it was done.  So here is my explanation.

There are essentially only 3 things that I did.

  • Crop
  • Sharpen
  • Contrast enhancement (curves)

Cropping is a matter of taste.  I wanted to centre attention on the Pelican and remove distracting elements.  I chose a vertical composition.  It wasn’t the only thing I tried.  It could be done a myriad of different ways.  This one seemed to work best to my eye.

The alignment is tricky.  The pole is leaning.  I didn’t want to straighten the image up with the pole as this would look wrong.  Instead I used the waves as my guide as to what was horizontal.

The last 2 processes had to be applied selectively.  In other words I wanted to treat the subject (Pelican) differently to the background.  In order to do this I created two separate layers in Photoshop.  The top layer contained just the pelican and the bottom layer contained the back ground.   It is important to cut the pelican out with the appropriate  tool so that you have the correct edge quality.  In this case I needed a sharp edge.  (I will go into selection tools later)

I sharpened only the pelican.  (see article on sharpening) 

I applied a different curve to each layer.  So what is a curve?  The simple explanation is to  think of  the brightness and contrast settings on your TV.  It is actually more useful than these settings, but I won’t explain that here.  (see article on curves)  I darkened the back ground slightly and increased the contrast.  I lightened the pelican and also increased its contrast.  The Pelican still stands out quite strongly from the background, but now there is a greater sense of clarity and detail in both layers.

As Alberto says – Aim not to be heavy handed.  Subtle is better.

I hope that is enough in the way of explanation for now.


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