Light and dark

Yesterday some friends and I went for a walk around Thetford Forest, which was a great opportunity for me to take some shots in RAW. Seeing what I could get done with a JPEG got me excited to take a bunch of RAW files and edit them. It’s definitely a difficult process, especially because my monitor doesn’t have the best accuracy. I tend to make things a bit too dark, so getting things right is an ongoing learning process.

One of the first pictures I wanted to play with was one of a nice little clearing where the light was quite dramatically different from the surrounding area.DSC01069

On its own, I like this one. It’s got a kind of ethereal glow to it that makes it look almost like its been edited, but this is the file straight off the camera. This was the first one I had a go at editing, and I think it’s debatable whether I made it better or worse. There’s no crop, I just changed the white balance, curves, and brightness. It’s definitely a very different picture.

thetford_clearing_1.jpg

Again, as soon as I put this online it seems much darker than the file on my desktop. I like that there’s a lot more dynamic range, but I think it loses the sense of a glow. I went back and tweaked the brightness and I think the results are much better:

thetford_clearing_1_v2.jpg

Next I had a snap with some actual subjects in it which was really nice.

DSC01078

What’s great about all these pictures is just how massive the trees are, and they really give you a sense of scale. I didn’t want to do a whole lot of cropping, but I also want to get rid of unnecessarily distracting details. I went for a bit of a crop, and added a cooling filter:

thetford_coupledog_2

Again, it looks very dark compared to what I had, but I like the crop. I added a cooling filter, but in retrospect I think it’s too much. The original is already lovely, and I definitely need to cool it on my edits.

Next we have a fairly generic shot of some trees.

DSC01085.JPG

I didn’t expect much from this one, but it’s good practice anyways. I cropped a bit of the foreground out, and cooled it off.

thetford_trees_2_v3.jpg

 

Again, it amazes me how dark it becomes when I upload it. I think the crop helps a lot, as well as the cooling filter. The trees have more definition, and the original looks like it’s got this green tint to it that went away with a bit of tweaking. I am fairly happy with this one.

Lastly, a shot that looked incredible in real life. There are these lines where they’ve cut a line straight down of trees.

DSC01083

However, the final is washed out and full of unnecessary details. The sky is blown out as well, but that’s what it looked like. I went for a vertically focused crop, and I wanted to make that tree at the end the focus. I also darkened it, and added some soft lighting coming in from the top to give the lighting some depth. This is the most editing I’ve done on a picture, as I’ve actually added in a new element (a sphere of soft light in the top) which I really don’t want to do, but I think it helps.

thetford_trees_3_v2

 

Again, this one looks a bit overly sharp and dark in places. It’s working towards the effect that I am looking for, where it’s a bit more dramatic, but it’s a bit much.

It’s funny how the original shot, the edit, and the final uploaded pictures look so different from what you visualise throughout the process. As far as I am concerned, I am going to try and tone down the edits a bit to avoid having the aggressively dark pictures. I am happy with most of the results, but I may be revisiting a few of these later on when I’ve had a bit more practice.

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