March 1, 2009

What to do when a photo is boring

I can't really put my finger on why I don't like this photo. I think it's too boring. It just doesn't sing to me. Compositionally, it's fine. I think part of it is the colors - or the lack of. Sometimes monochromatic photos work. Here, it doesn't.
When I run into photos like these, that's when I start messing with the different post production tools I have at my disposal. Get creative. Tonight, I tried converting this into a black and white, split tones, duotone, and a couple other color tools. Nothing really clicked well with me, so I turned to my cheat sheet - a list of "actions" that I downloaded off Internet.

Actions are basically short-cuts that Photoshop, Gimp and a number of other advanced photo-editing softwares have available. To reproduce the effect in the second photo, I'd have to go through about 20 or 25 different steps. That's tedious and time-consuming, never mind I'd never remember all the steps I'd need to take. So to be able to duplicate certain effects, you can either record each step as you go along and the next time you want to get the same effect, the program will run it for you. It's similar to the "macro" in MS Word. Or you can save yourself the effort and download them off the Internet.

Many people upload copies of their actions for other people to use; they are usually free to be downloaded - very handy cheat sheet if you have a compatible program.

After several trials and errors, I hit on an action that produced a photo I like a lot better than the original. It still doesn't "sing" - I still feel it's missing something. But at least it's a bit more interesting now. Click on the before and after photos to compare the large versions.

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