250 - Reflections of my Life

I did it again. Three consecutive evenings and always too tired to do more than working on one or two images. I didn’t even upload them to Smugmug ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s another jubilee and 250 is quite a number I’d say. In all this time you have seen an image per day, not always at that very day, but apart from maybe around ten, all of them were taken at the day for which they were presented.

This image, for instance, was taken on Wednesday, June 20th. I was out for swimming, Gรคnsehรคufl as usual, and on my way there I pass by these boats. I have tried the same shot some days earlier using a polarizer, but at that time I had forgotten to activate VR and the shots lacked sharpness. This time they were sharp, but I had been too lazy to change filters and use the polarizer.

Normally you hear, that the effects of a polarizer can’t be simulated after the fact, and that’s right to a certain degree. You can’t bring back detail that was hidden due to reflections, but everything else is more or less a matter of how much time you want to invest. I’ve invested quite some time here, I did it in Photoshop, did it in RGB mode, and “Select / Color Range” was my tool. It goes like this:

Select a color range that is too light due to reflections, for instance here the water where it reflects the light blue sky. Go into “Quick Mask” mode (“q”) and paint over all parts that should not be selected, here parts of the blue boats. Now expand the selection by one pixel (“Select / Modify / Expand”) and feather by two (“Select / Feather”). It is smooth now and there will be no undue borders. With that selection active you create a curves adjustment layer. The selection has automatically gone and is now the adjustment layer’s mask. Use the layer to darken the mid-tones, and in case of the water, add some green.

Hmm … I said I did this in RGB and that’s right, but of course manipulating color and contrast with a curves layer would have been easier to control in Lab.

I have used this method repeatedly on the water and four kinds of reflections on the boats. Furthermore I have cloned out some minor distractions and darkened the background. All in all quite a bit of work for a mediocre image, but as I like the result much better than the raw material, I wanted to share the process with you.

The title is from a song originally by The Marmalade, a British pop group of the late sixties and early seventies, but here we are interested in the cover version from Kevin Rowland’s much underrated and ridiculed 1999 album “My Beauty”, an album that was not really helped by its artwork. For all who don’t know the name, Kevin Rowland was the voice and the leader of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, one of the most amazing bands of the early eighties. We will definitely come back to the Young Soul Rebels another time. “My Beauty” is a album full of cover versions, it is different from Rowland’s Dexy’s work, but then maybe not so much. It is really one of my favorite albums and I can recommend it to everybody who doe not have a problem with pathos ๐Ÿ™‚

I have found only the original lyrics by The Marmalade, not Rowland’s free and very personal interpretation, and - most sadly - I have no sound sample. Not on Amazon, not anywhere else. Napster seems to have it, but they won’t let me hear the sample without installing their client software. On iTunes they did not even let me browse their store. Hmm.

There are 4 comments

pnfphotography   (2007-06-23)

THIS is BEAUTIFUL! such rich color.... very nice indeed.

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Thomas   (2007-06-24)

Congratulations to No. 250! That's an awful lot...

Your polarizer-replacement technique sounds promising - it would be interesting to explore, how that looks in a 1:1 comparison with a real polarizer.

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andreas   (2007-06-24)

Thanks. I never use images made with a polarizer without post-processing. A polarizer changes the colors so much, that automatic white balance does a bad job most of the time.

What we could compare effectively, is the result of this technique and the result of post-processing a polarized image. When I compare this current image and the not entirely sharp image that I've made some days before, I find that in processing this image I have probably overdone a little. Still, I think the effect is quite good.

I would not recommend it in general (the general recommendation is, to use a polarizer, it's so much less work), but there are situations where you don't have much choice. You may not have much headroom with shutter speed, you may travel light without a polarizer, or you may simply be too lazy as I was. For that it's OK ๐Ÿ™‚


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Ele ^_^   (2007-06-24)

Really beautiful shot, with wonderful colors!! ^^

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