Wasting time doing Long exposures, Don't think so Part 2

 
London Bridge, Portsea. This high contrast image with focused highlights and great reflections is definitely not what the camera captured. The process of getting the final look I'm after can take hours but I love it. See where this picture came from below. 

London Bridge, Portsea. This high contrast image with focused highlights and great reflections is definitely not what the camera captured. The process of getting the final look I'm after can take hours but I love it. See where this picture came from below. 

So I arrive home after a photography session full of hope and expectation that I've snapped something good enough to work with. I usually download the photos straight away as I can't wait to see what I've captured and the tiny image on the back of the camera hardly gives me the confidence that it's going to be a shot worth keeping. As the thumbnail images flick up on the screen there's usually a mix of emotions as I can instantly see what will work and what is likely to be a dud....or so I think! There have been many photos that I have initially worked on for a while and decided they were crap only to revisit them days, weeks or even months later with a different approach to create something I'm really happy with... so I don't ditch anything unless it's horribly blurry or just beyond salvation. And as for my answer to Mrs Fritz when she asks as I get home "Did you get any good shots?" I usually say, "It's probably all a bunch of coal," which usually doesn't end up being true, thankfully - and this is probably why she always rolls her eyes at me.

The original RAW image as it was shot. Flat, dull and the colours are boring...it's screaming black and white conversion to me! I'll go into why I prefer black and white images in my next post.

The original RAW image as it was shot. Flat, dull and the colours are boring...it's screaming black and white conversion to me! I'll go into why I prefer black and white images in my next post.

The process of then converting the RAW image to something I'm happy with can take between 15 minutes and 3 hours! It may seem like a long time but this is where my version of being an artist comes in. I've never been able to draw, paint or sculpt. Even colouring in was a stretch for me but manipulating an image by changing the tones, contrast, highlights, shadows, black and white points and adding or reducing clarity is something I find completely addictive. I can literally sit down and play with these settings for hours on end and be totally absorbed in creating an image from the vision I see in my mind, until I'm happy with it.  Once I'm happy with the photo I always leave it and come back to it some time later, as advised by French photographer Serge Ramelli in his Youtube editing courses, he says,  "You have to let it rest like a pancake," (I think he means the batter!)

The workflow above is pretty boring to describe in detail but I do 95% of my manipulations using Lightroom. All the changes above could be done in Photoshop but I just don't know how to and every time I've tried to learn my eyes just glaze over and I wish I was doing something else. I really only use Photoshop to remove elements in the photo I find distracting like a chips packet or cigarette butts I didn't see in the corner or that annoying person that turned up halfway through my exposure and left his ghostly image where I really didn't need it. I have also used Silver Efex Pro for black and white conversion in the past but have abandoned it mostly because I can now do all the changes in Lightroom that I need.

If this all sounds complicated, geeky and incredibly boring to you, it probably is, but for me it has become my passion. The old masters like Ansel Adams spent just as much time if not more in darkrooms manipulating their images by dodging and burning their photos during chemical processing to get the same results that I do on the computer. While the physical process may have changed, the end result is still a careful creation of an image that represents how the photographer views that landscape and the story he wishes to convey with it.

Already better in black and white but still a long way to go to get that punchy, moody, contrasty look I love for these landscapes. 

Already better in black and white but still a long way to go to get that punchy, moody, contrasty look I love for these landscapes. 

 If you have any questions about this process feel free to leave a comment below especially if it isn't about Photoshop 😴