Break In The Clouds II

Hokkaido. No, I wasn't there. But here's a photo, quite freshly taken... consider this a second post in a series about Breaks in the Clouds. The original is to the right. It must have been an amazing sight at the time, but when it comes to the photo, the awe is left largely to our imaginations.

So I did some editing. First thing was to increase the contrast, by a lot. Then further enhanced contrast using levels. Next, burned (darkened) in the clouds, and dodged (lightened) the light beam area. Then increased color saturation, in particular, bringing out the greens and blues so that the clouds are now moody slate instead of smoggy colored, and the shrubbery covered hillside is now emerald green. Vignetting (the dark edge) the whole thing obliterated the foreground trees, but I was OK with that. Now the only vegetation in color is that lit by the light beam. I lost some of the vertical ray detail as well as some lighter colored cloud. But I think the final effect is worth the sacrifice.

Light as a subject is particularly hard to capture. With my light pictures, I don't try to document what I see - it's impossible. Instead, I take photos knowing they will be heavily edited - or reinterpreted, into a different image. I don't do that with my people portraits - I enhance/improve/optimize, but I don't reinterpret. Editing the light/landscape photos feels more like making art than editing people photos. Then again, I've not tried pushing the boundaries of my people photos, since with my portrait work, people want to look good - but normal. Not moody and blue hued.