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Broken Limbs Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

29 June 2021

We've passed this old tree many times and every time we do, we are tempted to try another shot of it. Usually we don't bother because we have learned over the years that we just won't capture what it is that attracts us to it.

Broken Limbs. Olympus E-PL1 with 14-42mm II R kit lens at 18mm (36mm equivalent), f7.1, 1/250 second and ISO 200. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw.

But this time we foolheartedly tried again. A wider angle, the tree is shadow, the hill alive in color. It's the contrast between living and dead that we're after even if the tree itself isn't quite dead.

Better put, perhaps, it's the contrast between thriving and decaying. The dance of life itself.

If we pulled off the trick this time, it's because we did it in editing.

In Camera Raw we edited the DNG data into an optimized image which we duplicated on a second layer in Photoshop.

We turned the first layer into a monochrome image, focusing on improving the tonality of the tree limbs. We heightened the Contrast, turned a few more tones Black and added some Texture.

On the second layer, we selected the tree branches with the Magic Wand and turned them white with a ⌘ + ⌫. We set the Layers Mode to Darken so our monochrome branches would show through the white.

It's such a subtle change, you have to be told about it to notice it (and even then you might not believe it). That's partly because we used the Magic Wand, which allowed us to limit (16 levels in this case) how much of the tree to turn monochrome.

So the living hill in sunshine is in color and the broken limbs in shadow are monochrome. Simple adjustment, barely detectable yet still sensed.

That's precisely what we were after.

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