I’ve been spending more time with my images and noticing things that require attention – either over-done or certain elements requiring further work. There is of course, a huge chunk of subjectivity in this. Unexpected, starting to use Instagram again and cropping images to output as 1:1 or 4:5 (so cropping to the main elements) has helped with seeing.
One of the challenges shooting in the generally subdued northern English light is that colours loose their intensity. Our human visual system seems to compensate for that as we give attention to elements that interest us. The camera cannot, unless light is artificially added or we return to locations again and again in the hope of brighter days.
In RGB processing mode, I’ve found that colour information is improved to a degree as the monochromatic contrast in images is adjusted. Sometimes this gives me enough, other times I would like still more colour. However, colour saturation adjustments, unless used sparingly, look too artificial and obscure texture details.
The before and after above shows the RAW negative and image after production. It was a challenging shot, as I wanted to retain some detail in the brighter shadows that could be recovered in post and didn’t want to blow the sky completely. My RAW neg was reassuringly flat, suggesting to me that there would be some balance in the information across the image to work with. This is actually the upside of flat ambient light as in bright sunshine, it would have not been possible.
After my usual post production work, I still found the colours a little disappointing. So decided to revisit the LAB mode to add more colour intensity. In this mode the lightness (L) is completely separated from the colours. The ‘a’ channel is the green-red continuum and the ‘b’ channel is the blue-yellow one (for PS colour modes – https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/photoshop/using/color-modes.html). This contrasts with RGB where the lightness is dealt with through the combined RGB channel (and therefore also affects colour).
I stamped a new visible layer in PS and duplicated it to another document, which I changed to LAB mode. By adding a curves adjustment, the colour intensity was increased without altering the contrast or saturation – it is effectively like adding light to the original scene. Extreme effects can be obtained in this way, so care is needed. However, I can see how this type of adjustment will become a regular riff in my bag of tricks for managing poor light.