This is my learning log for the OCA Ditigal Photographic Practice course

Monday, 9 December 2013

Project: Digital photography and truth

Exercise: Alteration
I chose this image from my archive to demonstrate the use of various tools in PSE9 to edit the people out of this image.

Using only the variable sized clone tool brush I have removed the people from the foreground and from the left hand edge of the picture.


This has involved a lot of detailed work. I’m nor sure if it is something that I would do very often. I’m sure it is better to make the extra effort to compose carefully before pressing the shutter.

This is the final exercise for this part of the course. Please look at my DPP Assignments blog for details of Assignment four : Real or Fake?

Here is a link to a discussion on the OCA forum  about manipulating images and the Associated Press agency's reaction to digital altering of an image:

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Project: Digital photography and truth

Exercise: Addition
With short daylight hours and unpredictable weather, I grabbed a chance to get the images for this exercise on the Zig-Zag in Selborne this morning. With fast moving light I had to choose my exposures carefully. I set the camera on manual and have selected these two frames. The dark foreground also meant I had to average the exposure for the best result. See footnote*

4698 1/80s f20 22mm ISO400 Exposure for the sky


4699 1/40s f20 22mm ISO400 Exposure for the landscape


As I am not really used to working with layers in Photoshop, there was a steep learning curve as I prepared to make the composite image. The result is OK but I had trouble refining the edge of  the horizon (more practice is required).


Adding a new sky
For this part of the exercise I searched my archive for similarly lit landscapes with a compatible field of view (around 22mm wide angle). I found this one taken in similar lighting of Hope Cove in S Devon.


Using the PSE selection tools and layers, I added this sky to today’s image of Selborne:


This is a believable addition and on a calmer winter’s day in similar weather,  I’m sure it could be seen. I’m not sure if it is something I would bother to do. Again it is down to the purpose of the image and the authors intention. It is not an objective record of the weather on 7th December 2013 in this part of Hampshire. As my interpretation of a winter scene with this type of sky then it is acceptable.

*Notes:  On posting this exercise to Blogger from Windows Live Writer, it seems that Picasa has enhanced my images automatically.  The foreground in frames 4698 and 4699 appear to have very similar exposure whereas the difference in the sky is still noticeable. By way of an experiment I have posted a screen shot of the two frames side by side taken from  my image editing window. This definitely shows the difference. A timely reminder that the only way to view and share images reliably  is as a print!

Here is a link to the OCA Forum discussion where I found the answer to enable me to correct this problem:

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Project: Digital photography and truth

Exercise: Enhancement
I realised as soon as I had shot this image that it was not really suitable for this exercise. Although in available light, there is window light from the left. As the exercise is about enhancement, I decided to alter the modelling on the face using the selection brush in Capture NX2 to give the impression of more even lighting.
DSC_4658 image image

Having reached even lighting I proceeded with the selection of the face to enhance the brightness and contrast. Again I chose the selection brush for this task. Compare the original (left) with the enhanced version.


I used the selection brush again to highlight the eyes. Although difficult to tell at this magnification, the iris is definitely clearer in the right had version.


In this final version I have used the selection brush and the colourise filter to darken the hue of Claire’s eyes. I have shown it enlarged so that the effect can be seen more clearly.


Conclusion: Having worked carefully on this exercise, I am quite happy that the enhancements that I have made are legitimate and can be justified. I think it is fine to enhance the effects of lighting to achieve a specific type of image. After all, I could have carried a reflector with me and made the same changes in camera. Changing the eye colour is not something I would do unless requested. Not that I think it is wrong, it just depends on the purpose of the image.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Project: Digital photography and truth

Exercise: Improvement or interpretation
For this exercise I have chosen a contrasty image and used the Capture NX2 Selection brush to improve the visibility of the figure on the left.

I used a simple levels and curves adjustment to brighten the figure after highlighting using the selection brush. I chose to feather the selection also to blend it in the surroundings.


This adjustment is simply equivalent to dodging and burning carried out traditionally in the darkroom. It is part of post processing to produce an image acceptable to the photographer and one that helps to convey  his interpretation of the scene. A photograph is not real, but each one is unique. These subtle changes have not changed the basic nature of the image.

Project: Digital photography and truth

Exercise: Correction
1. Dust correction:


This image has several dust spots down the left side. Capture NX2 has a variable size Auto retouch brush which deals with this type of spotting effectively:

This is a very similar process to “spotting” a print post processing. This is a legitimate correction to make which takes less time and skill digitally. NX2 does not have a clone tool and this retouch brush is best used on small even textured areas. For the next part of the exercise I will use PSE which has more sophisticated tools for correction.

2 Lens flare correction:
This is a fairly straightforward lens flare against  a textured surface, corrected in PSE9 with the cloning tool.


I used normal mode, an 80 pixel size brush and 100% opacity to quickly clone the area of the flare. I also corrected the flare using the method in the course notes i.e. colour and darken settings but as there is a lot of surface texture in this image, it involved an extra unnecessary step.


This exercise was justified in this case – a record shot of a brackish pond on a shingle bank. The flare added nothing to the image and was a distraction. I appreciate that flare can add to an image as long as it is not over done. Again this can be justified if the photographer is conveying his reaction to the scene and it re-enforces the contre-jour effect.