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Ice, Ice, Baby...

I really enjoy 'in-the-moment' photography. There's a sense of raw emotion or action that is hard to find in staged shots. However, the obvious downfall is the lack of perfect light or composition, especially when referring to outdoor adventures. This is an example of such an occasion; climbing early afternoon on ice deep within a canyon this past February. And it was an overcast day...

Original Photo:

A few immediate things that pop out:

  • Underexposed
  • Very busy

Camera Raw Edits:

I was able to achieve all the filtering effects in camera RAW and really enjoyed the process. It was a lot more fluid than photoshop and allowed me to play around with much more. Some things I adjusted are:

  • White balance and temperature to a more cool, ice-like feel (blue + green)
  • Global exposure
  • Multi-directional gradients to give more depth to the ice canyon and focus on the climber
  • Adjustment brushes to a) increase exposure on the climber, and b) decrease the exposure on the ice/snow directly under/around the climber

Photoshop Edits:

Since really all the adjustments were made in RAW, photoshop was just used to get rid of the extra crap in the shot. The empty ropes were definitely eliminated, and though I debated on the climber's rope for some time, I determined that it had to go in order to smooth out the composition. For these steps, I created a blank layer and:

  • Used the healing brush at the edges to replace where the ropes leave the photo, as well as some other spots to break up the rope into smaller sections.
  • Used the spot healing brush and content aware to cover each of the ropes.
  • Used the smart sharpen to finalize the image.

Final Composition:

As much as I like how the final product looks, I wanted to play with the composition to see if I can make it more dramatic. Here are a few different crops. Let me know what you think! 

I'm sure there's a lot more that can be done to really increase the composition and drama, so please comment with your critique.

This was a great class and I hope you all enjoy my shot.

Marc

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