Take your landscape editing to the next level by using a variety of advanced techniques to selectively lighten and darken areas
When it comes to finishing off your landscape images, dodging and burning is an art form in itself. the process has long been an integral part of photography, but it’s far easier to lighten or darken areas of images with precision these days than it ever was in the darkroom.
We’ll explore a range of dodging and burning techniques in this issue’s video tutorial, but it’s not just a case of knowing how to selectively adjust brightness – deciding which areas of an image need attention is just as important. When someone views an image, their eyes are naturally drawn to the lighter areas first, so take this into account when dodging and burning. Imagine you’re taking the eyes on a journey around the frame, so emphasise lead-in lines and draw the eye towards the subject.
Shift your perSpective
If you think you’ve shot it all before, a different lens might be the answer.
Turning a real-life scene into one that looks like a model is a great creative technique. ‘Miniaturising’ a scene is one extreme selective focusing, tilt-shift photography can take your camera to a whole new level. The lens features two different elements: first there’s the ‘tilting’ element at the front, which can be tilted back and forth to change the plane of focus; then there’s the shift element at the rear, which enables a scene to be recomposed while the camera remains still.
We used the Nikon 24mm f/3.5D eD Pc-e lens here. as with all tilt-shift lenses it’s a prime lens, and can only be focused manually. one good feature is that it can be rotated, so both tilt and shift can be applied either horizontally or vertically (or anywhere in between). This makes it very versatile, and enables you to fine-tune the effect to your liking.
The main downside of all tilt-shift lenses is that they’re very expensive to buy – the one we used has a street price in the region of £1,465/$2,200 – but it is possible to hire specialist lenses online.
Get up hiGh
To successfully capture a ‘toy town’ tilt-shift shot you need to find a high vantage point from where you can look down on the scene. Don’t go too high for your focal length, though, as the scene will become too small to for detail to be recognisable. We shot this swimming pool from the viewing corridor.
tilt and Shift
use the shift and tilt functions on the lens to position it so it’s looking at the desired part of the scene. Turn the dial at the rear of the lens to recompose the image if needed, then, using the front dial, tilt the lens up and away from your focal point for a narrow band of focus.
uSe live view
Focusing can be difficult if, like us, you’re using a lens that has a fixed focal length and is manual focus only – using Live View is far more accurate. switch to Live View, and zoom the display so that you can focus precisely. a tripod will help here.
make it more vibrant
To really bring out the tilt-shift effect, increase the contrast and vibrance of your images, as this will make your scene or subject look more like a toy. This can be done in-camera using your particular model’s Picture styles, or afterwards in Photoshop. For our shot, we bumped up the Vibrance to 40 in adobe camera raw – we’d have pushed this even further had we shot in a less colourful location.
See into on the future
use the ring on the lens to set your focal point before the athletes come into view. When shooting sports where people will be moving, it’s always a good idea to focus on a spot which you know your subjects will cross – here we focused on the centre of a lane in the pool.
freeze the Scene
For a convincing ‘model’ effect all the figures in the scene need to appear completely motionless. sports are typically very fast-paced, so the shutter speed must be high enough to freeze motion; we shot at 1/640 sec.
put in a finiShinG burSt
shoot in continuous shooting mode. Due to the fast movement of the athletes and the challenges of focusing the lens, firing off a burst of shots will improve your chances of getting a sharp shot – this also goes for photographing most sports, with or without a tilt-shift lens.
While a tripod isn’t needed for lens stability at high shutter speeds, it can help with focusing by enabling you to keep the focal point on target.