Developing an Image – part 1

The Steps in the Process

In this post, I’d like to give you a view of some of the approach that I take in developing the final image from the shots that I capture on scene.

This particular shot was taken at Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, as we were exploring some of the Joshua Trees, rock arches and beautifully colored landscape. I came upon a deposit formation in the rocks that caught my eye…

Alpine Crossing

Sometimes our minds make an immediate connection with something that we see, which occurred for me in this case; at the angle that I viewed this through the lens there appeared the eye of an elephant imbued with high intelligence. This regal creature was bejeweled running down its trunk, and I could see tusks protruding to the lower right. In my mind’s eye, I saw it trudging through a challenging mountainous landscape in severe weather conditions, which led me to the working title of ‘Alpine Crossing.’

As I wanted to get as much detail into this image as possible, I opted for using the Focus Bracketing on my Canon EOS R5. If you’re not familiar with this technique, it is a method of taking the focal point in a series of shots from the near to the far; this allows for compositing of the images into a single, high depth of field image. For my options, I chose to shoot a set of 5 images and a somewhat below mid-range focus increment; reason being that I was shooting with a 21 mm focus length at f/8, so there was already significant depth of field. This series of images was the following…

The eagle-eyed among you might be able to spot the transition in focal plane, which is hard to see until examined on a big monitor.

The next step is to do some basic editing on these images, for which I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which I find easiest to access through Adobe Bridge. In ACR, there are 2 main features that I tend to lean on, as they make life easier: Profiles and Calibration. Let’s start with Profiles…

Profile Selections

If you’re not a frequent user of ACR, you may not be aware of the wonderful selection of preset profiles that are provided here. They are a great shortcut to closing in on a look that you have in mind for the final image. In this case, I used the Artistic 04 profile and set the opacity at 81% to tone it down a little bit. Note that I’ve selected all 5 images for this edit; if you find yourself editing only one of the images, don’t worry, as you can sync your edits across all of them. If you wonder how to access Profiles, the arrow in this image shows the way…

Calibration and Pointer to Profiles Icon

Calibration is another quick way to take a look at the colors in your image and allow them to pop. Note that if you have a large amount of one color, such as a blue sky, you may want to de-emphasize that color. In a lot of cases, I find that working just the Blue and Green primaries does the trick; as you can see, I added some Red as well.

Next step will be to take the process into Photoshop, which I’ll cover in tomorrow’s post.

Author: jansenphoto

A Fresh Perspective Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment. Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael. My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals. Universal Connections My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation. This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections. Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client. And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!

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