Archive for January, 2011

Every landscape photographer knows how important the consistent use of a tripod is to composing and producing sharp images. The use of the shadow/highlight tool in Photoshop is equally as basic and important in producing dynamic images. It is so easy to use that it is hard to believe how much improvement can be made in an image with so little effort. The improved shadow or highlight detail may seem subtle, but often it gives an image that extra something which  makes an image “all that it can be”.

I am not a technical guy so what follows now is a basic how to use it description of the tool.

1. After importing the file from Bridge or what ever program used to process the raw image, make a duplicate of the base layer.  The tool cannot be used as an adjustment layer and applying  the tool to the duplicate layer preserves the integrity of the original layer. On this duplicate layer Go to:  Images/Adjustments/Shadow-Highlights. In the dialogue box click on show more options.

2. There are three boxes labeled “shadow”, “highlight” and “adjustments” with sliders in each box. The shadow sliders lighten the shadows, the highlight sliders darken the highlights and the adjustment sliders are for final adjustment to make the image look good.  In the shadow/highlight sliders the tonal width sets how much into the midtones the effect will be applied. The higher the percentage, the more the effect is moved into the midtones. Amount is just that  – the higher the amount the more the effect. Not every image needs both shadow and highlight adjustment. Almost all need shadow adjustment, so start there first. First adjust the tonal width , and then the amount and then the radius tool. When working on the shadows, concentrate on the shadow areas that have detail while moving  the radius slider back and forth until the desired effect is achieved. There is the “aha that’s it spot”, and going beyond make the image too garishly sharp and below that point things look too soft. Make sure to view the whole image on the screen to see how the effect looks on the entire picture. (As opposed to the sharpening tool which should be viewed at 100%.) Repeat the same process for the highlights if necessary.

3. In the final adjustment section, the midtone contrast slider is the only one that needs to be used. Most images benefit from a little more contrast, but not usually more than +10-20. However, there are some contrasty images where a little flattening of the contrast with negative values looks better. To see what works best with the midtone slider, exaggerate the changes first in either direction to see if the image needs more or less contrast. Reexamine the entire effect. Occasionally after having done all that some small changes might need to be made in the shadow and highlight settings. Hit OK to apply the effect to your duplicate layer.

4. If  it looks a bit overdone, use the opacity slider to back off on the effect Merge the layers down or keep it as a separate layer to be reworked later if needed. With newer versions of Photoshop with smart images, it is possible to make the base layer a smart  object and then apply the shadow highlight tool as an adjustable filter – same effect, just no need to go through the process of starting with a duplicate layer.

To learn more about using photoshop, I recommend the books by Tim Grey. They offer some of the best step by step practical how to books I have seen on the subject.

Using this tool is easy, and it is an extremely effective way to maximize the potential of your images. For landscape photographers I think it is as important as your tripod, and we all know how much we love our tripods.

Read More2011/01/29 6:53 pm - Posted by David

“Island Diamond”  – Grand Manan  2010

My photography “Island Diamond”  was accepted to the Hampshire Art Association 62nd Currier Exhibition  on view at the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH from January 29 to March 6, 2011. The opening reception is Thursday, February 3 from 5:30 to 8 PM.

The jurors are Dina Deitsch, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and Jen Mergel, Beal Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Besides 47 other juried entries from current members, the exhibit will also include works from the Currier’s collection of other New Hampshire artists with ties to the New Hampshire Art Association.

I hope you can visit the exhibition, and I look forward to seeing you at the opening reception.

Read More2011/01/27 9:32 pm - Posted by David

A Bar at the Folies-Bergere

Edouard Manet

There is much to admire and love in Manet’s  work, the complexities of his life, and the last canvas he left us – A Bar at the Folies -Bergère.

He was a rebel and from an early age had to fight against the preordained order of his family and the traditional art establishment to find his own voice as an artist. Born into a wealthy family, he had to overcome the overbearing puritanical influence of his civil servant father who wanted him to study law or to become a naval officer. He was not interested in a position in the traditional Ecoles des Beaux Arts, and tired of the classical teaching of his initial teacher, with whom he eventually parted ways.

What I love most about his work is that he painted in a realist style. He was interested in the life around him and in capturing the present moment. Unlike the impressionists, which he influenced greatly, he used the color black to great affect. It seems he was less interested in the attributes of light, which when coupled with the use of black, gives his paintings a more solid, photographic type of image. He was interested in the details of his surroundings, especially in his later works. This produced images that are clearly of a particular place at a particular moment.

Manet’s final large canvas, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, was completed the year before his death. The crowds, the party and gaiety, everything he loved in his life in Paris, is reflected back to him in the painting. Who is this women, the bar maid looking out at us, and who is the gentleman in the upper right corner of the painting? Manet knew he was gravely ill when he managed to complete this painting. What was he thinking as he struggled to complete it?

The painting itself is impressive , over 4 ft by 5 ft in size. When I saw it at the Courtauld Gallery it was in an intimate space and it seemed even larger. It glowed like a wall of jewels, emerald green with all the bottles and color and reflections. If you find yourself in London, and can make time away from the other larger museums and attractions, check out the Courtauld. They also have an excellent collection of early 20th century art.

Read More2011/01/25 8:55 am - Posted by David

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