Posted by: Bruce Proctor | September 22, 2016

Photo: Pine Tree, Campbell Island, Popham Beach S. P., Maine


I’ve been making a print of this photo I took 5 years ago. I’ve finally got the print I wanted, although of course I don’t think a viewer online can see its subtleties. The issue I faced with this piece is common for me, but a real hassle to address, one I’ve often put off and never really mastered, to date. The backlog of such images now demands I finally get this right.

The problem is that with digital cameras/photography, I can’t get the full dynamic range of my subject if the contrast is too great. I’ll lose deepest tones or lightest tones, take your pick. In practice, I usually end up blowing out skies, as in this photo.

You can bracket exposures, then combine them in Photoshop. Often however I don’t notice that I’ve blown out the highlights until later, as in this case.

The solution for this piece was to find another image from the same shoot where the sky is well-exposed, matches the original conditions, and fits this composition. In fact I found one made just a couple minutes after the main shot here, so compositionally the match is close. Emotionally, it’s a fine match.

I then selected certain tonalities of the second sky, and dragged the resulting layer into the first image’s sky. Issues now revolved around the edges of the selection not matching well with those of the first photo.  In this case I needed a lot of doing and thinking. Tutorials I’ve found about this matter only take me to a certain point. This is the tough part of the process: it should match up, but doesn’t, quite.

The final result however, in this case, feels well-resolved. Not quite fastidiously perfect, but fully satisfying for me as a print.




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