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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stylize Your Images Using Digital Filters

The difference between a technically solid photograph and a real winner that makes clients stop for a closer look is a matter of style

This Article Features Photo Zoom

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What makes winning /images win? Apart from the opportunities and advantages that are afforded by huge leaps in digital technology, one point stands out, as always—style! Today’s light-meter technology helps ensure technically correct exposure, but it’s personal insight and style that bring the exposure to a higher level—being aesthetically correct! The same can be said for the aesthetics of composition, color treatment, focus, contrast, balance and every other aspect of an image that strikes your eyes and grabs your mind. Aesthetics and style help make an image stand out.

On the topic of aesthetics with creativity and style, I’d like to focus on filters, more specifically, digital filters. If your experience with photography predates digital, you’ve probably used any number of filters, such as UV, polarizer, graduated neutral-density, neutral-density, close-up, infrared, color balance, color-correction, special-effects, skylight, haze and maybe more. The approach of using such filters always has been rather easy, but there has been a fundamental weakness—that is, the effects being embedded into your film’s exposure were virtually irreversible.

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But today, digital photography’s quantum leap is substantially a result of the sophisticated software filters built into advanced cameras and from filters that are built into software. Here, I’ll concentrate on the software’s filters and provide you with examples, and I hope inspiration, that will point you in the direction of thinking “out of the file.”

When I make a picture, I think about achieving the best original file and about how I’ll use the image, and sometimes, the original shot isn’t the best (maybe more often than I’ll acknowledge). I don’t discard it; I keep it and take the opportunity to examine it using software, where I frequently find parts of the image that can be turned into a winner through cropping and prudent creative use of the software’s special tools—filters.

In “Think Different About RAW” (Digital Photo Pro, Sept./Oct. 2008), I spoke to the topic of the power of using multiple file types and editing/filtering tools from several software programs on a single image file. In this article, I’ll use three software features and three file types (JPEG, TIFF and RAW NEF files), all combined and enabling creation of a single image presentation with my personal style.

Today’s light-meter technology helps ensure technically correct exposure, but it’s personal insight and style that bring the exposure to a higher level­—being aesthetically correct!


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