Create An Out-Of-This-World Image

If you’re like most photographers, you go to popular locations and attend popular events to make pictures. Not surprisingly, your straight-out-of-the-camera shots may look similar to those of your photographer buddies. Happens to me all the time.

A quick fix is to use digital darkroom enhancement to remove or alter the reality from the scene. In some cases, the more reality you remove or alter, the more your pictures may stand out from the pack.

In this installment of Quick Fix, I’ll share with you a few techniques for creating an out-of-this-world image—an image that looks as though it were taken in outer space. I’ll use a picture taken at a motocross event, but you can try my suggestions on your images that have dark backgrounds. The darker the background, the better.

Here’s the original file from which I created the opening image for this column. The rider looks cool, but the overall picture is boring and cluttered.

Before proceeding, here are some basic action photography tips that I followed at the motocross event:

1. If you want to stop the action, shoot at a shutter speed of at least 1/1000th of a second.

2. Choose a shooting location so you have a good background, and know that you can darken, lighten or blur the background easily in Photoshop or Lightroom.

3. Set your exposure on the subject, making sure the highlights aren’t overexposed and washed out, which can easily happen if the background is darker than the subject.

4. For a sharp shot, use the focus-tracking feature on your camera to track the fast-moving subject right up to the moment of exposure.

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