When I posted “771 – And Winter Came” a week ago, I was met with mild mockery. I admit, there was not much snow to be seen 🙂
These two images are from Saturday, the first one from the morning. It had snowed from Friday afternoon all through the night, and when I went fetching breakfast in the morning, I made this shot, using the Nikon 70-300 VR at 300mm.
The image out of the camera had almost no contrast and definition at all. It was shot at ISO 200, the Nikon D300’s normal ISO, and it was exposed more or less “to the right”, thus I saw no reason to favor the precision of DxO Optics Pro over the convenience of Adobe Camera RAW, especially as I wanted to take the image to Photoshop anyway, but this turned out to be an error.
Mind you, this is a color image, but of course there was no color at all. Trying to push local and global contrast, I quickly found out that Adobe Camera RAW had introduced all sorts of tiny color artifacts, and pushing contrast greatly amplified them. Of course simply working with layers in “Luminance” mode would have hidden that, but wanting to fix it at the root, I re-developed the image in DxO Optics Pro, and, boy, did that make a difference. This is one of those areas where DxO shines: precision. There was a lot of fuzziness, that is to be expected when one looks through 500 meters of dense snowfall with an effective focal length of 450mm, but there were no color artifacts at all. Impressive. Read more about DxO in my ongoing series of posts that document my experiences with it.
The second image, the Image of the Day, was shot in the afternoon when something almost like the sun began to shine through the clouds.
This image is a rule-breaker. One of the things that Craig Tanner constantly preaches, is that in photography, two is an odd number, and that so often when one has the choice to use one, two or three of a kind of subjects, either one or three are preferable to two. The reason is, that two subjects of the same kind tend to look boring and symmetric, redundant in a way.
Well, here it works. We have two trees, symmetrically arranged, but everything else is asymmetric on multiple layers.
The other thing normally not to do is to have a fence or something like that in the foreground, running across the frame. It makes the image inaccessible, keeps the viewer out. Here we have something similar, in fact the edge of a pond, and although it works like a wall in front of us, the two trees provide a mighty and powerful door frame, leading the eye through and into the winter wonderland behind.
I took this image to DxO as well, trying different presets until I found one that would work as a good start. Then, in Photoshop, I copied the layer, applied Photolift (more about this useful plugin here) for a strong push in local contrast and put the result in “Multiply” mode with reduced opacity, added some curves layers with masks for local contrast adjustments, and strongly pushed saturation. A levels adjustment, a curves layer for global contrast, some vignetting, some sharpening, and that’s it. With the exception of saturation adjustments, this was a similar procedure to the one used on the snowfall image, only more subtle in the contrasts.
Update – Monday: I don’t do this normally, but last night I have processed another image of this series. I would have normally displayed it together with today’s post, but it really belongs here, to the other images of one marvelous winter day in Carinthia. Here it is.