3. Fol­low the lessons of the un­sung lab mas­ters

Mod­ern ar­ti­sanal pro­cess­ing learns from the bril­liant dark­room print­ers who worked on neg­a­tives in­tensely, lo­cally and thought­fully

NPhoto - - Nikopedia | Freeman On -

When film ruled, pro­fes­sion­als who didn’t care to take on the task of print­ing their own im­ages al­most al­ways had a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with a master printer. Top print­ing labs in Lon­don, New York, Paris and other cities with a thriv­ing photo in­dus­try were unique places, known in the in­dus­try but hardly at all out­side.

A re­cent in­ter­view in GUP Mag­a­zine with Pablo Inirio, a master printer for Mag­num Pho­tos in New York, gave a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into the back­stage care and at­ten­tion that could go into a fine print. Ansel Adams’ of­ten-quoted mu­si­cal anal­ogy with ‘per­for­mance’ was right on the but­ton. The clock was run­ning, lit­er­ally, and the dark­room ex­po­sure was in­deed a com­pli­cated and highly skilled per­for­mance, with many pre­de­fined ar­eas within the im­age given spe­cial at­ten­tion. Some ar­eas were held back (dodg­ing), while oth­ers were given more light (burn­ing or print­ing in).

There are good lessons to be learned from this ap­proach to pro­cess­ing, and the fun­da­men­tal one is to treat ev­ery scene as an assem­bly of com­po­nent parts. In an ideal world, each part – sub­ject or tonal area – de­serves your at­ten­tion to en­sure its tone, colour, con­trast, de­tail, smooth­ness and so on are per­fected. RAW pro­cess­ing pretty well en­ables that ideal world. You can now do it all – if you care to take the trou­ble. Thought of this way, it’s surely ob­vi­ous that global pro­cess­ing con­trols can take you only part of the way.

In this scene, chil­dren from a school in the hill country of Gu­jarat, In­dia were tak­ing a morn­ing water break, and I set­tled on this girl. As is typ­i­cal in In­dia, the shared cup didn’t touch her lips, so this gave me the op­por­tu­nity to get a clear shot of sparkling water, which is a valu­able com­mod­ity there. The cam­era view­point, wide-an­gle lens, fram­ing and tim­ing were all as you’d ex­pect, and the job of the pro­cess­ing was to fo­cus at­ten­tion on the water. The ex­po­sure was good, the key tone be­ing the girl’s face, so not much was needed in the ba­sic over­all set­tings: I di­alled Ex­po­sure down a frac­tion, slightly in­creased my ha­bit­ual tri­an­gle of Shad­ows, and de­creased High­lights and raised Con­trast to re­cover the flat­ten­ing ef­fect that these two slid­ers cre­ate.

I treated ev­ery­thing else lo­cally. I low­ered the bright, slightly over­ex­posed back­ground and ad­justed the sweater to make the blue even, to keep the viewer’s eye more fo­cused on the water and lips. Next, I de­creased the brighter re­flec­tions on the up­per part of the metal beaker, again evening out the tones. I then took down the up­per cheek­bones and eye area to match the cheeks, and in­creased con­trast to em­pha­sise the eye. Fi­nally, I raised the con­trast in the water it­self, by pulling the black and white points apart, and added a ju­di­cious touch of Clar­ity (a well over-used tool, but here, for once, I thought it use­ful).

In my street close-up in Carta­gena, Colom­bia (pic­tured right), shot with a 500mm lens, I wanted def­i­nite pri­mary colours, as the old mir­ror lens I used here tends to de­sat­u­rate colours. I was at­tracted es­pe­cially to the bright re­frac­tion through the man’s thick spec­ta­cles, which was the rea­son I po­si­tioned my­self ex­actly there.

Mid-morn­ing water break at an In­dian school, with pro­cess­ing ded­i­cated to height­en­ing at­ten­tion on the pre­cious liq­uid as the girl drinks it from a metal beaker

6. Ra­dial fil­ter to boost con­trast in the water

5. Ra­dial fil­ter to boost con­trast in the eye

2. Lo­cal brush to darken the bright back­ground

1. Over­all base set­tings to im­prove tones

4. Ra­dial fil­ter to rein in the beaker high­lights

3. Ra­dial fil­ter and brush to lighten the sweater

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.