4 thoughts on “Outside In

  1. Tom – that has such depth – the strong vertical and horizontal lines set off the soft organic cloud shapes. I have to ask, did that shot come out of your camera like that or did you alter it in some way?

  2. Love the colors, and the way the window leans against the background really grabs me. It’s the slightly wrong perspective. And like Dawn, I suspect that you’ve altered the colors. The blue is just too blue. Right?

  3. Here are the details: What struck me the most before I raised the camera to shoot was, obviously, the reflection of the sky in the window. I was also struck by all the gradations of color in the wood, and the textures as well. Despite a rather intense late evening sun that was shining obliquely onto this side of the building, all of these things stood out vividly to my eye. But I knew that if I wasn’t careful with my exposure, some or even many of these details would get washed out. So I deliberately under-exposed by about a half stop, figuring that if that caused some of the texture to get lost I could easily bring it back in post-processing.

    So, I shot the image in RAW mode with a Canon 5D — ISO 100, 24mm, and a bit under-exposed, as I mentioned. Exposure was f/16 at a 30th. Not surprisingly, the RAW image was bland and washed out. Aperture’s RAW decode process applied some sharpening and enhanced contrast. That helped. I then boosted the black point a bit. Black point is the area of the image that is considered to be the darkest, so by enhancing that just a smidge, I think I deepened the image a bit and added some drama that the harsh light had washed out. I also added a bit of definition, which is a kind of fine-scale contrast. I nudged up the overall vibrancy, which adds saturation to under-saturated portions of the image. To bring out some of the lovely detail in the wood, I boosted the saturation of the reds in the image. And I did some dodging (lightening) of the highlights in the clouds reflected in the window to help them pop a little more.

    These changes probably did little more than the choice of Fuji Velvia, a particularly saturated film, would have done, had I been shooting this with my medium format Mamiya. That’s kind of what I had in my head when I started all of this. But the most dramatic impact from post processing actually came from vignetting. That darkened and deepened the colors of all but the window and the reflection of the clouds. I think that is what really made the colors pop the most. Everything I did up to that point was arguably in the realm of photography as extension of vision — meaning a more or less faithful rendering of reality. (With the caveat that film does alter color rendition, and I was trying to emulate that.) But the vignetting took it out of this realm. This image is not really what it looked like when I was standing there. It takes the things that struck me as particularly lovely and arresting and heightens them to create an enhanced vision of reality. So this is by no means photojournalism.

    I have generally not been a fan of the current fad of over-saturated, hyper-vibrant digital photography. It often seems to be done just because it is dramatic. This creates “schmaltzy,” cliche pictures that all the look the same. That said, perhaps because I am a child of the psychedelic era, I often find myself fixated on colors, textures and unusual juxtapositions. And what I had in mind here was revealing those qualities, which otherwise would have been hidden.

  4. Explanations like this always scare the hell out of me. But whatever you did, it worked. I think what really ropes me in is the depth of color in the wood – that provides such a rich context for the clouds in the window.

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