I’ve rarely talked about what I do with my images after they are taken. I used to think that keeping quiet about that part of the process added a bit of mystery to my image-making. However, I know that a lot of my readers might be interested in just how much (or little) editing I actually do to my images to get that “perfect” image. So here is a basic before and after comparison.
This is an image of the Rose cottage shot in a garden setting. It is exactly as shot, right out of the camera with no adjustments:
First a few notes on this image… the location was at the Horsford Gardens and Nursery in Charlotte, VT. I had asked permission to shoot there as I do not have roses in my garden. The kind folks there gave me free use of their gardens and I am very grateful for their generosity!
I had only about an hour to do this shoot and the sun angle was very low. And bright. This is not very good lighting for this kind of work because the shadows are very deep and the contrast is too high, but roses were almost out of season here so I needed to try. With lots of low clouds on the horizon I figured that once the house was set up, I might be able to take the best shots JUST as the sun was dimmed slightly as it went behind or came out from behind one of those clouds. This way there would be some shading for bringing the image to life, but not too much contrast and blown-out highlights.
The image above is just one of those images. The sun was just in transition from coming out from behind a small cloud. There are some shadows, but the highlights are just on the edge of being too strong (and thus losing detail) and even though the shadows are very dark, I knew I could fix them. I got to work.
First I made several general adjustments to the overall photograph using a photo processing software that I really like. I then warmed the image slightly as I wanted some of that late afternoon glow which was not present in this particular image, but was in several of the other images which I had captured in the full sun…. I remembered the lighting in those moments was very golden.
Once I had the over-all image better corrected, I went about cleaning up some of the problem areas. One example is the small bit of road that is visible on the right side in the middle of the image. I selected other bits from the same image and added them in to cover over the visible road and blended the background a bit better. There are loads of other areas that I repaired/replaced all using parts from the same image. Let’s see if you can find them!
There were still a few troubled areas that I could not repair using this method. For those areas, or to adjust the composition a little better, I cut and pasted some bits from some other views from the same photo shoot, adjusting them to fit both compositionally as well as tonally and color-wise. An example of that process can be seen in the addition of the 4th big red rose and bud used to cover over an unsightly dead blossom in the upper left area of the image. There are two other pieces of “imported” elements that have been blended in….can you find them?
I did some final cleaning up and adjusting of small details, adding in some subtle shadows and removing a few more blemishes on leaves, etc. and then I cropped the image to focus the attention and make a more pleasing composition. Here is the final version:
This hopefully shows you that yes, I do edit my images… but I do not build “virtual” fairy house structures using editing software. The images I share are always as close to the original experience as I remember it. If you take photographs yourself, even with camera phones, you know how easily the mind can edit a view before we even realize it. When we get home to look at our vacation snaps, sometimes we are amazed at what actually appeared in the image which we were sure was not there when we took the photo! It takes time to learn to see what the camera is actually seeing, and then to know what you will be able to fix and how, later in the computer. Yes, a lot can be done with photo software, whole fantasy scenes can be created, certainly…. but that is not how I like to work. I want my images to be as true to life as I can make them so that it is as if I am bringing you along to behold the magic for yourself as I place my sculptures in their natural settings.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little behind-the-scenes peek.
I’m currently working feverishly on finishing up the last few houses/images for the next Amber Lotus calendar collection which are due at the end of this month. I’ve also got some other exciting news to share soon but I’m not quite ready to spill all the beans just yet….however, I’ll give you a spoiler alert: I’m building a Patreon program for my loyal fans!!! I’ll reveal more soon, but this is a huge next step and I’m very excited about the project.
Also, I’m getting ready for my first ever secret sale of my fairy houses…stay tuned for more details on that! I want to have houses done and ready so that they can ship in plenty of time for holiday gift-giving. I will give more details on the sale when we get closer. If you want to participate in the sale (even if it is just to look) you must be signed up. It is a private sale but anyone can come if you sign up first. You can use this form (link) to sign up if you’ve not already.
Have a great week everyone!