Reflection on Part Three

This was a big unit!

It seemed such a long time ago we were looking at the RAW format. Whereas I was doubtful to begin with, I have convinced myself of the advantages and it has now become an integral part of my picture taking, my camera is now set almost permanently to RAW + jpeg. I can’t say I’m fluent with the manner of processing but it is improving. In fact, I have just started using Lightroom and this software seems much more seamless in it’s processing of RAW files.

The value of the exercises on managing tone and colour lay not so much in the core subject (although it was useful in providing a more coherent background to the work I already do) but in providing a good opportunity to practise RAW processing. I think the results I achieved with the images I chose were an improvement on what I would have got previously and I particularly appreciated the ease with which some of the adjustments can be made in the RAW file.

Creative interpretation was interesting. To have the freedom to take an image and produce some wild effects with it was quite liberating. I noted at the time that I did not think it would become part of my normal photographic practise. This was based on the notion that I am more of a realist than a surrealist in my work. However I am thinking that some kind of more extreme processing, consistently applied, can provide a kind of signature.

The last, and by far the largest, subject covered was black and white processing. This was new to me so had an immense value. I learnt the effect that adjusting the relative tonalities of the different colour channels can have on the final image. My software at the time, Photoshop Elements 7, could only adjust the red, green and blue channels, Lightroom has the ability to adjust a greater range so should offer more flexibility and control over the finished effect. The course noted that black and white allowed more extreme processing in key and contrast although this is not something I have explored much. The assignment was an exercise in black and white and although I produced pictures that were quite pleasing, I’m still not sure whether it is a medium which I want to pursue. That is not to say the exercises were not valuable: I learnt more about image processing, what can and can’t be done and what is effective; I learnt more about how Photoshop works; and if I’m ever called upon to give black and white images, I can honestly say I know what I am doing.

There are plenty of web sites that offer tutorials in Photoshop but I have found that most of them offer instructions on doing some quite eclectic techniques. Adobe has some good help on the basic features. Therefore I particularly liked the way this unit was structured, starting with simple corrections and moving through more radical adjustments. Photo processing software are powerful pieces of software and an image file is a complicated thing but this unit showed in simple and effective terms the most important elements of those. This process is taken further in the next unit.

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