Getting there… (photography)

Do we remember this picture I took?

"Straight" out of camera
Original image

In my last post I kvetched about the endless possibilities making it difficult for me for me to previsualize my picture as I was taking it. There are so many possible changes that can be done that it makes it almost impossible to imagine what you can do beforehand. I’m sticking to that. I am, however, trying to learn what I can do with the tools I have and see if I can keep them in mind as I shoot.  I decided to hit the magic monkey button for a while to see what the possibilities were. Actually got some interesting images but once again, they didn’t feel like mine. They had been generated from my picture but I wasn’t involved in how they ended up looking. I then started to go through the preloaded effects in the plugin called Adjust. Most of them were hokey and I was giving up hope until I clicked on “color negative.”

Now usually color negatives are hopeless visually. Skies go orange, white people have a lot of green in them, and everything looks really funky in general. Foliage goes magenta when you reverse it. Once again, that is usually a big problem. This image wasn’t so bad though because it was mostly shades of green and yellow originally. That lead to shades of magenta and blue when reversed.

I really liked what I was seeing. The reversed light/dark tones gave it more structure. Now the image was mostly darker with spots of lighter areas inside. That keeps the eye inside the frame. It also helped bring out the complexity of the shapes and patterns of the leaves. I corrected the magenta out and turned it to shades of blue and violet. Darkened the image overall and did a few tweaks to the luminosity to particular colors and came up with this:

Color negative and various tweaks.
Color negative and various tweaks.

I really like this and I feel like it is mine. It doesn’t look anything like the original scene but I think I’m OK with that. This is going to sound weird but in some ways this is more how I “saw” the original scene.  I loved the density, the shapes, and the variation between light and dark. Doing the extreme adjustments brought out the things I liked.

I think I will put this technique in my tool box whenever I’m faced with a situation where the edges are lighter than I’d like. It’s also only going to be useful when dealing with a scene with small variations in color. Still, I’ll remember this.

Subscribe to my blog! You can get an email or a push notification on your phone when I publish new stuff.

Start receiving "Life as I see it podcast" Broadcast updates now:
Subscribe on

Follow me on

Share on