Managing Tone

This exercise invited me to use my chosen picture editor (in this case Aperture) to make initial basic adjustments to my images once imported in to the software program. These aren’t major adjustments and are just used to optimise the images after import. Even if the photograph appears to be almost spot on with exposure and white/black points it is still worth scrutinising it to make a few fine adjustments. Even if it looked great on the camera screen it may well look very different on the computer screen.

The workflow after import should look something like this;

  • Set the contrast range
  • Adjust the brightness
  • Remove any overall unwanted colour cast
  • Make sure that whites and blacks are not tinged with colour

It is reliable to do most of these adjustments with the eye, after all, this is quite subjective work. But a series of photographs needs to at least have a constant colour cast, contrast, brightness etc.

For my chosen image I had one JPEG version and one RAW version to further demonstrate (along with the previous exercise) the difference between editing both. On both of the images I set the white and black points just before the clipping point (with the aid of the ‘Highlight Hot & Cold Areas’ function in Aperture which shows absolute black in blue and absolute white in red). After this I looked at the mid-tones and adjusted them accordingly (in this case very little). I also marginally adjusted contrast (mainly in the JPEG version). I locally adjusted the low and highlights in each image. The JPEG again required a little more dodging (lightening) than the RAW version. I burnt (made darker) some of the highlights, in the main the bridge which although wasn’t clipping was still losing detail through exposure. This was where I found the main difference between the two file versions. RAW held up to burning more detail in whereas the JPEG ended up just looking a little greyer and slightly flatter (in terms of contrast).

Bearing in mind the minimal time spent doing this there is actually a noticeable difference between what came straight from camera and what was the final (minimal) edit on each image. The images are below and may not show much difference at first glance, but one just needs to pay attention the contrast and lowlight and highlight areas to appreciate the difference a few simple changes can make.

RAW image straight from camera

RAW image straight from camera

RAW image after treatment

RAW image after treatment

Above is the RAW image before and after. The sky is slightly darker blue and there is more contrast and detail appearing after adjustments.

JPEG straight from camera

JPEG straight from camera

JPEG after treatment

JPEG after treatment

The same is true of the JPEG images although the changes are not quite as pronounced due to the limitations of working on JPEG images.

 

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