Expert advice and tips on improving your photography from Damien Demolder. He gives his appraisal of At the Station by Anthony Jackson and offers advice on how it might be improved.

Photo: At the station

Taken by: Anthony Jackson

Ricoh GR Digital IV, 6mm, 1/2000sec at f/9, ISO 320

Before: This is a well-observed shot, but there are no midtones to tell us what is going on

Before: This is a well-observed shot, but there are no midtones to tell us what is going on

There is a common misconception that impact can be injected into a photograph by ramping up the contrast. However, in most cases doing this simply creates more of the brightest and darkest tones, murdering those around the middle of the scale. The result is one or more extreme tonal values – and Anthony’s shot is an example of this.

While the whites and blacks of the image attract our attention, there are no midtones to tell us what is going on. We are blessed that our eyes can adjust quickly to varied lighting conditions in the day-to-day, so we rarely see extreme tones, but we are very keen on using them in our pictures.

I think there is a lot lost to black & white in this shot, so I’ve lifted the shadows and pulled in the highlights in attempt to create a more moderate and realistic scale. Lifting the shadows has introduced more detail for our eyes to connect with, and I don’t think the process has had a negative impact on what Anthony wanted us to see – the long low light, and the bright rim on the man’s head.

After

After

Lightening a processed JPEG is a messy procedure so we are left with noise and broken tonal transitions, but if we were working from the raw file or the original JPEG the result would look much cleaner.

This is a fantastic view, Anthony, and a well-observed situation in which to get the camera out. I love the light and composition with the sun peeking out. Just make sure the contrast doesn’t take away more than it gives.

  • entoman

    Interesting lighting and good advice about contrast handling, but to my eyes this is a “so what?” image that doesn’t quite work. It just feels like something is missing. But nicely observed lighting.