Sunday, 10 November 2013

Enhancement

Version 1 (unedited)
Version 2 (face dodged)
I found enhancing my subject's eyes in particular a thought-provoking and rewarding exercise. I had often noticed in magazines how striking a model's eyes and indeed whole faces could be. I was aware of the fact that the use of dodging and burning to increase contrast was commonplace in magazines and had been since the film medium era. However, it was the first time I had fully concentrated on changing the aesthetics of the eyes especially, through dodging, which included increasing contrast, saturation and even hue.

 


   Each stage of adjustments I carried out produced results that at the time I thought looked better than the last stage and in the end I decided to combine two stages of adjustment for what I felt was a striking yet realistic compromise between obvious alteration of the eyes/face and an improvement in directing the viewer's eye towards for me the more important areas of the image (the eyes).

Version 3 (eyes enhanced)
 



   I started by just dodging the model's face (and incidentally eyes) by using a high exposure/low flow adjustment brush in Adobe Lightroom until I felt the face 'stood out' enough from the head and shoulders/background but remained realistic. I increased the overall exposure and the overall contrast of the face with two separate adjustment brushes so I could change if needed the different parameters easily. The result (Version 2) was in my opinion a vast improvement compared to the unprocessed version (Version 1) in that it achieved it's main purpose of drawing the eye toward's the face of the model.

 




   I was a bit skeptical about what impact the enhancing of the eyes alone would make to making the image overall. I was confident it would draw the viewer's eye to the eyes but might look out of place with that being the only edit to the photograph. However, I was pleasantly surprised that by enhancing the eyes subtly enough (increasing saturation and brightness after making a selection of just the iris and pupil of the eyes using Adobe Lightroom's adjustment brush) so they didn't look 'over the top', the photo benefited as a whole (Version 3). In fact, I would say I was equally if not slightly more satisfied with the result compared to dodging the whole face (Version 2) mainly because the effect was more natural. This was further strengthened by the model purposefully wearing light blue clothing, which was the same colour as her eyes.


Version 4 (eyes hue changed)
   Changing the hue of the eyes also worked well, with a small shift towards the eyes appearing slightly surreal (Version 4). I performed this by using the same selection I had made for Version 3 with Adobe Lightroom's adjustment brush but in addition picking a light green colour in the 'Color' section in the adjustment brush tool's dialogue box. It had the effect of making the viewer (or at least me when I was reviewing it) look twice to check that the eyes were really that hue. They weren't in real life the same hue but a viewer looking at the model for the first time wouldn't know this. Because of this aesthetic quality the eyes in the photograph drew the viewer's eye further in. This was in comparison to just enhancing the eyes as in Version 3 of the photograph. The eyes still matched a part of the model's clothing (the necklace) in terms of colour so there was some coordination there, which I felt helped in making the eyes remain 'at home' in the image.

   Finally I decided it would be a good idea to combine two of these processing techniques: the dodging of the whole face with the enhancing of the eyes (increasing saturation and brightness only) and this produced the best result of all for me (Version 5). This was because it drew my eye firstly towards the face and then further to the eyes.

Version 5 (final)
   I found only one of the processing techniques I tried out above at all controversial. This was the change of hue when enhancing the eyes in Version 4 of the photograph. This was mainly because her eyes weren't green to start with and so the photograph was 'lying'. It was true that dodging her face or enhancing her eyes was also modifying the image and so also in some ways 'lying' but the lie was only aesthetic and not potentially semantic. I personally didn't have a problem with this 'changing of the truth' in this photograph but I could see potential problems if a similar photograph was to be used in maybe documentary rather than commercial photography. This is because the 'truth' of the photograph would be more intrinsic with documentary photography. However, there would be an argument that commercial photography shouldn't be playing with the truth either, although photographs often aren't taken at face-value with this kind of photography anyway.

   Altogether, I learnt a lot about dodging/enhancing and would most probably use those techniques (in tandem or by themselves) if I felt it would help draw the viewer's eye to a part of the image I felt was most important. I would also try to be wary of when I felt I was over-processing an image too much and in what context the image was likely to be used.