Sunlit Tennies

Sunlit Tennies
Friend's house, San Diego, CA
October, 2010
This image was impromptu.  I noticed the sunlight streaming through the window and across the feet of my nephew, flicked on the camera, composed and shot one exposure.  Moments later, he moved.  This kind of thing is why I've taken to carrying my camera almost everywhere.

The original image is below.  The composition is fair, but I found the visible seam line in the ottoman he's sitting on, as well as the open air gap on the left of the picture, a little distracting.  I cropped in tighter, and took the opportunity to balance the space to the left and right of his feet a bit better too.

Original Image
The result is shown below.  Much better.

Cropped Image
For every photo, I open up the Levels tool, to have a look at the histogram (side note: I use Paint.NET for all of my photo editing.  It's a very nice tool, and it's available for free.  Still...I'm considering an upgrade to PhotoShop or Lightroom when I move to an SLR.).

Levels Histogram
In this case, the histogram was already pegged at the extreme ends.  The highlights were a bit washed out, and the blacks were very nearly totally black.  I played with the controls a bit, but in the end decided the picture looked good the way it was.

I then used the Sharpen tool, to crisp up the edges and details.  In this case, the tool helped quite a bit, because I wanted to emphasize the lines in the flooring, the pattern in the jeans, the text on the shoes.  It takes some playing with to get right.  I find it easy to apply too much sharpening, especially when the image includes fine, strong patterns (e.g. screen doors, etc.).  The resulting image is below.  Hopefully you'll be able to see a difference (for the better).

Finally, I used Paint.NET's monochrome conversion to create a black and white image.  When choosing to keep a color image or a monochrome version, I consider the colors in the scene.  If they're a distraction, I prefer a monochrome photo.  If they're key to the composition, or add visual interest, I keep the color.  In this case, I found the difference in (perceived) color between the right and left pant legs, and the splash of blue on the left-most shoe distracting. And, I liked the emphasis the monochrome version put on the falling light.  The final image is below.

The last step, done for the purposes of publishing the web, was to add a copyright watermark.  This is done by adding a transparent layer to the picture, typing the watermark text into that layer, setting the color (I use white or black, depending on the tone of the background where the watermark will lie), and adjusting the transparency of the layer until the watermark is visible, but doesn't overly distract from the image.

Copyright Watermark added
I hope you found this an interesting look into the editing workflow that I use.  If you have any questions, and especially if you have suggestions for improving the flow, I'd love to hear them.


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