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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Envision The End Result

Previsualization of the final desired image is often the key to success

This Article Features Photo Zoom


You know, it doesn't take much to turn a snapshot into a great shot. Most of the time, envisioning the end result—what you can do in the digital darkroom—is the key. Hey, if it worked for Ansel Adams (using film and the wet darkroom), it can work for you, too! Ansel Adams was the master of previsualizing the final image.


Other times, turning a snapshot into a great shot is a matter of careful composition. As Edward Weston, another master photographer, said, "Composition is the strongest way of seeing."

In this article, I'll share a few before-and-after examples of making pictures rather than just taking pictures, that is, snapshots. I made these pictures at the Southeastern Railway Museum and Old Car City USA, two locations not far from Atlanta, Ga.

1 | The opening image for this article, taken at the Southeastern Railway Museum, is an HDR image created from these six images. Due to the bright light outdoors and very low light indoors, I knew (envisioned) that I needed HDR to make an image where I could see into the shadows without blowing out the highlights. The key here was "seeing the light," the very high-contrast range in the scene. If you learn how to see the light, you'll know when to use HDR, or to add light to the scene to reduce the contrast to a point where the scene can be captured in a single image.

2 | This is my favorite image—the end-result image I envisioned—from the Southeastern Railway Museum. The tip here is to make a creative image. Onsite, I moved the chair into position and shot with a wide-angle lens set at a small aperture for maximum depth of field. When I processed the image, I corrected the wide-angle distortion (Photoshop > Edit > Select All > Transform > Perspective), changed the color (Photoshop > Image > Adjustments > Color Balance) because I like blue better than green, cropped the image slightly, and as the final step, added a border in Nik Color Efex Pro (Filter > Image Border).

3 | Here's my original image. Well, you have to start somewhere, right?

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