Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Details

One of the differences between a good photograph and a great one is how we handle the details. Check out this image of a beautiful Kuna woman who I photographed at the San Blas Hotel in the San Blas Islands, an archipelago of 365 islands that lies off the Atlantic coast of Panama. Compare it to the second and third photographs in this column, and you'll see that it has stronger colors and more contrast. I'll show you how to easily create a similar effect using Adobe Photoshop Elements. Of course, you can get to the same place using Adobe Photoshop. 

By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix

Quick Fix: The Details Now it was time to fix the distorted angles in the scene created by photographing the wide scene with vertical lines from a close shooting position and by using a 17mm setting on my 17-40mm lens on my full-frame digital SLR.

I selected the entire image area (Select > All). Then I went to Image > Transform > Distort and pushed in the top left and right anchor points until the doors and windows were vertical.

At first, I selected Image > Transform > Perspective and pulled the anchor points outward, thinking that technique would fix the problem because the perspective was off. It kind of worked, but I found that using Distort worked much better, again, as you can see in the opening image.

Quick Fix: The DetailsQuick Fix: The Details After having all that fun getting the colors to look vibrant in my image, I decided, as I often do, to see what a black-and-white version of the image would look like. After flattening the image, I went to Enhance > Color > Remove Color. That created a black-and-white image, a pretty flat black-and-white image. For a more vibrant image, I went to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast and boosted the contrast until I was pleased with the result. Try playing around with the contrast control the next time you create a black-and-white image in Elements. (In Photoshop CS3, use Image > Adjustment > Channel Mixer and click Monochrome. Or, better yet, create a great black-and-white image in Camera Raw.)

As a final touch to my black-and-white image, I cropped out the areas that I thought didn't add anything to the image. Then, I added a Brush frame using onOne Software's Photo Frame Pro 3. After that, I went back to my color image and applied the same cropping and frame.

Summing up, this column is about the image-making process: seeing a picture opportunity, making a picture on site and then transforming a straight-out-of-the-camera shot into an image that's seen in the mind's eye.      

Rick Sammon ( has published 27 books, including his latest: Idea to Image, Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0, Rick Sammon's Travel and Nature Photography and Rick Sammon's Digital Imaging Workshops. He has produced a DVD for Photoshop Elements users, Three-Minute Digital Makeover, and three DVDs for Photoshop CS users: Awaken the Artist Within, Close Encounters with Camera Raw and Photoshop CS2 for the Outdoor and Travel Photographer.

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