Thank you to everyone who endured my presentation on the plans for this years' image exchange with Carnoustie Photogroup. Each year, to date, we have swapped 20 images picked at random from competition entries, and the results have been interesting - but the PDI sized jpeg images leave little scope for creativity. This year, therefore, we want to try to get more out of the exchange, by using RAW or full sized, unedited JPEG files for the swap.
We are looking for members to submit RAW or unedited JPEG files before the 12th November.
So this is an outline of the plan, with deadlines and dates.
• 12th November Members’ Night
– We will discuss our 20 images as a group, and make some ‘on the hoof’ edits.
– These edits will then be finalised and the 20 final images produced
• 28th January Members’ Night
– We will repeat the process with the 20 images sent to us by Carnoustie Photo Group.
We will then have 40 edited images, and Carnoustie will do the same type of thing, and also have the 40 images - edited their way.
• 18th February Members’ Night
– Our friends from Carnoustie Photo Group will visit us and we will present, side by side, all 40 images edited by us AND by them.
• 13th February (Thursday) Carnoustie Photo Group Visit
– We (i.e. Ben, Hayley and anyone else who fancies it) will visit Carnoustie Photo Group and present the same to their members.
The process of editing the images will hopefully give people some helpful insight into some of the things that can be done in lightroom and/or photoshop. The exchange process will hopefully give an insight into how two people or groups might view and edit an image completely differently.
As a bit of a fun example, I got Ian Bain (because he's on holiday) to give me some RAW files, so Ian Hastie, Hayley and myself could all have a bash at editing them, and then we could show the members and be brutally honest without Ian there to be offended. I am now posting the results on the website, so Ian can be offended!!
The first image was of a wildebeests posterior. Members agreed that the image was clearly a middle of the day shot, light was harsh and the heat haze damaging to the sharpness of the image, but nevertheless, it's an image from a memorable holiday, and worthwhile trying to improve through editing.
The original file
My basic edit - mono tends to disguise the harsh light, I've lightened the shadows and dodged the highlights to try and make the wildebeest the focal point.
Ian Hastie did a similar mono conversion, but cropped out the tree, and flipped the image. In the western world, we read from left to right, and images of wildlife often feel more comfortable to view when the subject is facing left to right - you'll often hear judges suggest flipping an image. It's a subjective thing, but one to consider.
Getting more creative, Ian added a radial blur to try and further emphasise the wildebeest as the star of the show, and disguise the slightly overpowering out of focus areas.
More creative still - or maybe just rubbish. Ian went all Andy Warhol with it. Jury is out.
And then Hayley spent less than 10 minutes, using some of her own textures, to make it into a masterpiece. Oohs and Ahhs of acute jealousy went around the room at her creative skills. I'd love to explain here what she did to create this image, but it's way beyond me! Hayley tends to edit images very freely and with a good deal of trial and error. There's no formula to it, just a range of skills she employs, and good judgement. If anyone would like a one-to-one discussion with her on her techniques, I'm sure she'd be delighted - but it might be rather baffling as a wider group or club demonstration. As always, if you have questions, please ask Hayley, she's delighted to share her knowledge and skills.
It's still a wildebeest's a**e though.
The second image was a street scene from Zanzibar. Again taken in the middle of the day, but a really interesting scene with lots going on. Mr Bain's trademark squint horizon has unfortunately meant that the top of the roof has been cropped out of frame.
The original file - as you would expect from a RAW file, somewhat flat and lifeless.
This time Ian Hastie did the 'obvious' edit and cropped into where the principle interest is. Some well executed cloning of bananas in the background replaced a distracting character, and a general tidy up of the edges made for a pleasing image The people are well contained within the image, and the vibrance and contrast have been boosted to bring the image to life.
I got a little more creative, and rebuilt the top of the building by cloning surrounding tiles until they met at the tip, and replaced the white sky with a nice blue Scottish one from our trip to the Isle of May. Judges often say to us that a very light top edge of an image tends to lead the eye out of the top of the frame, so replacing the sky here helps to contain the viewers' attention in the image. Aside from that, I increased the contrast, clarity, vibrance and saturation to bring the image to life, and cloned out some of the distractions around the edges, as well as cropping some of the foreground away. I also used the 'free transform' tool to emphasise the perspective a little and pull you into the image. There are still characters on the edge of frame though, which is hard to avoid in a busy street scene. There is no 'obvious' place to crop it though, other than going really tight as Ian Hastie did.
The examples, I hope, show that when working with the original RAW files, the scope to make adjustments and edits is far greater, and there are options as to what to do with an image. Keep your mind open to new ideas, and when shooting, if an end result isn't obvious, shoot lots of images and see what you can conjure up in post production. It's much easier to mess about with editing techniques than to go back to Zanzibar to retake the image with the top of the roof in shot!
So in summary, this exchange with Carnoustie Photo Group has always been fun, and educational, and we see an opportunity to expand this further this year. It is nigh on impossible to stand at the front of the room and teach editing, and when we have had guest speakers give us presentations on editing, some people are enthralled, others lost after 5 minutes, and some bored senseless - we all have different skill and knowledge levels. However, if the above sparks someone to ask 'can you show me how you fixed the missing roof and replaced the sky' then we can very easily show those techniques, either at the group or one-to-one. There are a good number of members who are happy to help, but it's hard to help unless people ask the questions - and if this process brings a few questions out then it's a success. It is also MUCH easier to edit someone ELSE'S images too, so having an anonymous selection from another club is a great way to do it.
So please, everyone, send in a RAW file (or unedited full size JPEG) or two, to the usual address (or bring it on a memory stick) over the next 2 weeks. If we get too many we'll select 20 and keep some in reserve for next season, or another editing night. If we all join in this will be a lot of fun.