Friday, March 03, 2006

Anatomy of a Photoshopped Image

I thought I might show how I photoshop an image, so you can decide if you think the image is altered into something false or not. (Click on each photo to enlarge.)
On Wednesday an eagle circled our yard for a few fantastic minutes. It came low enough that I could see it quite distinctly and even hear it call. The photos showed it with much less clarity against the grey sky.

We have our camera set to take the largest JPEG image, which has the following dimensions:

Pixel Dimensions: 14.1 mb
Width: 2560 pixels
Height: 1920 pixels

Document Dimensions
Width: 35.556 inches
Height: 26.667 inches
72 dpi

That's right. The camera's highest JPEG setting produces a poster size image nearly 3 feet wide. That always surprises me because it seems absurd to trade off size for dpi, but that's how it works.

I look at the image at 100% and crop it so that the eagle is at its largest, but the photo is no longer 35x26 inches. At 100% there is already a bit of pixelization, but the eagle is clear to the eye.
After I have cropped it, I look to see if there is any dark-room enhancement I could do to make the image more crisp or clear. In this case I lighten the photograph by adjusting the curves just a small amount. Then, I dodged the eagle's head and tail to draw out the existing color. The white was already present in the photograph (it is not added), but it had been cast into shadow by the camera adjusting for the existing light in the sky.
I'm just learning how to use the dodge and burn tools, which are classic darkroom techniques. The resulting image has a lighter sky, and the eagle's white head and tail are as clear as I saw them from the ground. I added the frame for a final artistic touch.

What do you think?

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