In my previous post I was lamenting Apple's decision to terminate the development of their "Photo Asset Management" program known as Aperture. To underscore the importance of software to the digital photographer, I have decided to write a series of short articles where I will describe the nuance of taking and processing a photograph. The overarching theme for each picture will be dreams. I decided to structure these posts in this manner as way to stress what most photographers already know, a photograph is anything but a depiction of reality. Specifically, the non-arbitrary decision to include or omit an element from a composition is a form of extracting or adding to the reality of the moment. Furthermore, by choosing a specific lens, shutter speed or lens aperture, the photographer is defining what the viewer should or should not see.
Today's image was made where three rivers meet at Finca la Anita. Photographed early in the morning to take advantage of low angled light rays and minimize contrasty highlights, I was seeking to capture the essence of the jungle experience. I positioned my tripod as low as it would go, adjusted the zoom to 23mm and set my aperture at f/16. I used a Tiffen 8-stop variable neutral density filter in order to reduce the light that hit the camera sensor. As a result, I was able to create a 16 second exposure that would smooth the water's flow and produce the green silky reflections visible in the river.
At this point, I could have consider the photograph to be complete, as the original image is quite pleasing. However, I wanted to leave the viewer with the sense of mystery and darkness that one often feels during a rainforest hike. It here where post-processing can be the difference maker. The photograph was imported in Aperture 3.5, catalogued and adjusted to balance highlights and shadows. I then exported the picture into a secondary program called OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 8.5. From within the software, I selected the "Effects" tab and chose the filter titled "Glow." With many presets to choose from, I played around with the possibilities and ultimately settled on the filter titled "Change More-Strong." At the first the effect was a bit much for me, so I used the program's layers' window to reduce the opacity of the effect and thus blend the filtered image with my original.
Clearly, one might have to play with this software to fully understand the steps described, however, herein lies my point. Artistic expression via digital photography requires knowledge of picture making. Inherent in the production of a digital photograph is a two part process: capture with camera + post-process with software.
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