Here’s a sunrise for your Saturday, courtesy of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
And now, class, here’s your lessons for today.
My editor wanted me to send him some images of cliff dwellings I’d captured during my visit to this national park some years ago (10 years, actually – same year I started volunteering photos and articles to the National Parks Traveler). As I was perusing all the images, I came across this sunrise shot photographed from the balcony of my room at the Far View Lodge. I noticed I’d never done anything with it – probably because I thought it wasn’t very good afterall, and because I didn’t have the editing skills to bring out the beauty of the shot. I did something that all of you should do with photos you don’t think are worth anything but that are technically ok (i.e. not blurred or really grainy): keep it until you have the skills to return to work on it.
I don’t care what anybody says, it’s my opinion that every image you capture needs some bit of tweaking. Sometimes, it needs quite a bit of tweaking to bring out what your eyes saw when you composed and captured the image. This image is a good example.
The original image is dark and muddy and has some extraneous junk in the corner (a part of the balcony roof) as well as a couple of sensor spots. I could have deleted the image and gone on about my business, but I chose to keep it (actually, I think I just passed by it and forgot about it for all these years). Now, some 10 years later, I’ve returned to work on it, and it’s not turned out too badly, I think. With improvement in my photo skills, I’ve been able to bring out details and color previously hidden, and cleaned up the composition as a whole.
You can do all this too. Just keep practicing and learning new editing skills, and don’t delete those photos you think are not that great. They might be real keepers.
Ok, this is not so much of an “ode” but it is an appreciation of what photo editing can bring out in a composition. Whether you believe it or not, and whether you even like it or not – most images really do need some sort of editing done to them after downloading them to your computer. Digital and mirrorless cameras capture all the detail of a scene, but they don’t necessarily present it quite like we saw it. Our eyes – our wonderful, delicate eyes – are still the best at defining detail within the light and shadow of a landscape. To get that image to match what our eyes have seen (and the memory recorded in our heads), some editing using a favorite piece of software, like Lightroom or Photoshop or some other program is really necessary.
It was my first-ever visit to this particular national park. An April birthday gift I gave to myself several years ago – that, plus one of the last paid vacations I’d be able to get out of the company before my subsequent retirement and out-of-state move some three months after this shot was captured. I wanted to photograph the detail of the amphitheater wall, so I used my Canon 100-400mm lens for a “telephoto landscape.” Unfortunately, I didn’t pay much attention to the camera settings, and the resulting image was washed out, a little overexposed, and downright “blah.”
Recently, I’ve been brushing up on my editing skills, learning all sorts of cool stuff through the video tutorials purchased from one of my favorite photographers, Sean Bagshaw. I wanted to test my newly-learned skills and returned to this image. The result is not half bad, imo.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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