Of course it is best to capture the perfect lighting condition, but for the majority of the time, you need to paint the light/color back into your photos. This is photo art! So here is my thought for the day: “If you didn’t shoot it right, ‘shop it right.” Most people just add saturation and levels to the entire image, (Type 2 photographer – see last post…) but that neither looks realistic or artistic, and it often ruins one part of the image. So it is much better to use Adjustment Layers to selectively edit different portions of a photo. (Type 3 and 4 photographers). Most images need three things: Levels, Saturation, and Sharpness (I prefer the Smart Sharpen Filter for this feature.)

I am so happy to announce that I have found a way to cut the editing time down to ONE MINUTE per image, by using Camera Raw with a JPEG. Camera Raw comes with Photoshop, but you have to access it through Adobe Bridge, if you want to edit jpegs. If you have Adobe CS 3 or later (I am using CS4 right now) then you can open your images in Adobe Bridge (which comes in the CS package). Then from there, you hit “Cmd R” (Ctrl R for PC users) and your jpeg will open in Camera Raw. Here you can make most of the main edits all in one place, with quick, handy sliders. Then you open your adjustment brushes and add a few highlights, if you want the artistic style. Voila’ in ONE MINUTE, you have a masterpiece!

I took this first photo through an airplane window of the salt flats on a descent into the Salt Lake City International Airport. I could see this image was flat and washed out, but I knew it had potential. I changed the sliders in the main Camera Raw window: I increased the blacks, clarity, vibrance, saturation, and contrast… all in about 10 seconds. I also adjusted the temperature, exposure and brightness in this same window, for another 10 seconds. Then I opened the adjustment brushes and in about 20 seconds, I added a point where I wanted the light to shine. Then I increased the exposure, brightness, saturation, and sharpness on these points until I had the right balance.

All my original image data and the new edits are stored in this same jpeg file, as long as you view the image in Bridge. (Make sure you have the View set to Thumbnails.) You will see a little circle with two arrows, which means it has been edited in Camera Raw. Next time you double-click the image, it will open up in Camera Raw. If you want the original image back, you click on the little arrow at the top right of the Basic window, then choose Camera Raw Defaults. You can then hit Done to revert back to the original, or hit Save as, to make a copy with a different file name or file type. WHY SHOOT IN RAW, when you can do non-destructive edits with jpegs in Camera Raw? The files are smaller and you don’t have to store that annoying little extra file along with your huge Raw file that stores all the edits!

I used to take photos with my sister, Deanne, before we lost her to breast cancer in 2002. I still miss her terribly! She was a beautiful person, professional watercolor artist and my mentor. Many people in Idaho Falls know her as the Cookie Grandma. She had so much fun painting from her photos. I loved how she painted in cool lighting and added her own interpretations and enhancements to increase the emotion in her paintings. I always preferred the graphic arts and photography, and I enjoy all types of photography. I enjoy adding enhancements to my photos, just as my sister did with her paintings. For example, I added highlight areas to the images below to “paint in a focal point.” It makes it better than real life. It is not “fake,” it is “artistic,” and with some practice you too can learn where to add accent lighting to “paint your photos.”

Of course, it is important to label your work as “photo art” or “photo painting” or “edited photos” because it is not the same as straight photography. Note the snow scene from Island Park in my pervious blog post. That image was not enhanced or painted, and the lighting was perfect. I was just very lucky to be in the right place and the right time. (Find a good storm, and wait for the light to break.) Let’s just be sure we sell it for what it is. Photography or Photo Art. Why not enjoy and appreciate both? Check out my photo art…

I took these image at the end of May, 2010 right after our daughter’s graduation from Harvard. (the SLC airplane shot was on the way home). Rachel always wanted to see the Maine coast, so that was our post-graduation trip. We spent four days driving up the coast in a rental car. There were five of us and we had a blast! One of our favorite stops was the rocky shoreline walk at Perkins Cove.