By J.L. Sofka
25 Oct 2011
It seems to me that there is much ado about not altering photographic images. People often remark, "oh, you photo-shopped that, eh?" Which is to imply that through simple technological savvy, a digitally manipulated photo is inferior to the unsullied image. The end product, may in fact, be inferior or it may be sublime--the process used is beside the point. Painters are not condemned because of their choice of media.
Digitally manipulated or painted photographs are often denigrated by experts and laypersons alike. As if being creative is somehow negative (oh no, it's the anti-photoshop squad at the door!).
Following my intuition, I endeavor to create a sense of mystery through the use of color, line, shadow and light. As you can see below in the before and after composites, the originals are quite boring. My workflow to improve weak images is as follows.
1. Crop (if necessary)
2. Saturate Color (up to 100%)
3. Increase Contrast & Darken Image
4. Adjust Color with Channel Mixer
5. Resize Image (usually 8x10 at 300 dpi)
6. Reduce Noise
Increasing color can drastically increase the amount of noise. In Corel Paint Shop there are a couple of different ways to smooth out the noise. I generally start of by using one step noise removal (one or two times), then go to the adjust menu and use edge preserve smooth. Sometimes I might use a soft focus filter and then apply unsharp mask found on the adjustment pull down menu.
My advice to anyone else who has been scorned by purists is to follow your own creative impulses. Very few of us will ever be as good as Ansel Adams.