Have you ever taken a seascape or landscape picture from inside a moving plane, boat or car, where the view of the horizon line was tilted? Have you ever had to shoot fast to get off a shot without making any exposure adjustments, resulting in an over- or underexposed picture?
I’ve made both mistakes, most recently while shooting from a helicopter above St. Thomas. I was disappointed with a few of the out-of-the-camera images, but I knew they could be saved in the digital darkroom.
Here’s how I rescued a picture from deletion. I used Photoshop CS, but you can use this technique with similar image-editing programs that let you crop, rotate and enhance /images.
1. My original image shows the horizon line quite tilted. The shot also lacks those beautiful colors that we’re used to seeing in pictures of the Caribbean. The dull color was caused by a slight overexposure. What’s more, I took the picture at midday when the sky was a bit cloudy.
2. To level the horizon line, I first used the Magnifying tool (hold down the Option key on Mac, or Alt on Windows, to switch this tool) to reduce the picture size on my monitor. That opened up some gray working space around the picture. Next, I switched to the Crop tool and selected the entire image. When the Crop tool is moved outside of the picture area, we get a double-arrow icon that lets us rotate the picture.
5. When you know that you’ll need the Crop tool to crop out the white areas of an image, don’t fill the frame with the main subject when composing. In other words, don’t shoot as tight as you normally would.
7&8. When making these adjustments, I created Adjustment Layers, rather than making the adjustments directly on the image. Adjustment layers are less destructive to an image. What’s more, if you save your file as a TIFF or PSD file, you can go back at a later date and change your mind about the adjustment.
Rick Sammon is the author of 23 books and the host of 20 photography programs on cable and satellite television. Recently, Sammon developed a series of 25 Adobe Photoshop Elements 3-Minute Digital MakeOvers. Visit www.ricksammon.com.”