Making not taking a photograph.

One of the most difficult things to learn in photography is finding the image, you can learn all the technical aspects simply by reading and ingesting the information from books but the ability to see an image where most do not is a skill that you must develop. It's not particularly difficult to do, it's simply a case of being disciplined and slowing yourself down. 

To illustrate this I want to show you a scene:

Sheet of cracked plastic Riveting isn't it, this is a plastic carpet protector from ikea. Designed to protect the carpet from the rollers on a chair, needless to say it wasn't up to the job as the chair made the plastic crack repeatedly!! Now to look at this it does not make much of a picture, I'm being kind - it actually makes NOTHING of a picture. However, I found myself looking at it thinking there was a picture in there somewhere and thought I would share the process of finding it with you.... I'm so kind!! 

Firstly I looked at the sheet from different angles, to see which offered the best perspective (you should do this with ALL the pics you take, trust me you'll be surprised at the difference a slight angle change can make). I discovered that from low down the cracks were highlighted more (due to the light from the sky showing through - instead of the darkness of the ground you see currently).

From this point I then created images from the sections highlighted:

Cracked plastic sheet highlighted

Let's start with photo A.....

I took a picture for photo A at the new found angle as seen below:

Cracked plastic RAW image

Ok, it's not fantastic as far as photo's go, BUT it's certainly heading in the right direction compared to the original image...

Now to go a little further with this image, I opened it up for some post processing which included dropping the exposure, increasing the black point, raising the contrast and finally tweaking the highlights and shadows ever so slightly. Which gave me a finished image as you'll see below:

Cracked plastic edited

What constitutes a finished image is very subjective, but for me this was the look I was going for so I consider this finished.

At this point, I was fairly happy with the image I had managed to capture from a very mundane setting. That said I wasn't totally satisfied and felt that there was more here, which brings me nicely to Photo B.

For photo B I was happy with the lighting and the angle I had found but wanted to try and introduce another element, I decided I wanted to somehow incorporate myself into the shot. This is how I managed to do that:

Cracked plastic with hand silhouette RAW As you can see, putting my hand behind the plastic works fairly nicely, then by placing my finger over the crack it brings that point strongly into focus (your eye is drawn to it). This was the image I was seeking, but it wasn't quite there yet, I need to do post processing work on the image.

So I took the image into my processing software and converted to black and white then dabbled with the exposure, brightness and finally black point to get the following finished image:

Cracked plastic hand silhouette b&W Edited

Although this would not win a pulitzer, I'm sure you'll agree that when you look back to the original image it illustrates that you can probably get a decent image out of almost any setting.

I hope this has helped, maybe you have your own photo to share giving an example of finding the image?!


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