Without My Polarizer I Am Blue

Blue, photo by Harold Davis.

This is a photo of a fingerpainting project at Nicky’s pre-school drying outside.

I took the picture in the late afternoon sun. The only thing unusual about the picture from a technique viewpoint is that I used a polarizer to deepen the colors.

As the memory of the craft of film photography begins to fade, we forget how much of color photography used to be accomplished with filters. In the digital era, the role of the many filters has been taken over by Photoshop.

But not the polarizer. You cannot easily replicate the effect of a polarizer using Photoshop. This filter rotates, and its impact changes both depending on the light and on its rotation. The polarizer deepens colors, and brings out reflections in glass and water (or diminishes them, if that is your desire). It makes skies seem dark yet translucent.

The polarizer used in this picture is the 67mm Nikon circular version that fits on the from of AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor ED 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF, a mouthful of a moniker, but basically the lens most people get with a Nikon D70. But with this standard camera, and standard lens, the polarizer now has to be special ordered. People are forgeting the tools, such as a polarizer, that worked well before digital.

I also tried playing with this image in Photoshop, and came up with an abstraction that looks like a sinister bird to me:

Abstraction from Blue Painting

Here are the steps I took from the original blue image in Photoshop:

  1. First, of course I opened the RAW version of the blue image in Photoshop and saved it as a PSD (see Processing a Digital Image)
  2. I used Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast to pump some color into the image
  3. I applied the Glowing Edges filter from the Stylize section of the Filter Gallery
  4. I used the Film Grain filter from the Artistic section of the Filter Gallery to add just a little grain to the image
  5. I cloned out some areas that I didn’t like so much, and cloned in some of the glowing orange to make it more look like a bird
  6. I used the Unsharp Filter to sharpen the image by about 100%

Was all this worth it? I had fun playing, and that is always a good thing. But I’m not sure that I don’t prefer the original blue image…

This entry was posted in Bemusements, Hardware, Photography, Photoshop Techniques, Writing.

4 Trackbacks

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