Sometimes you just take a really bad picture. You review your images and you wonder how that happened. You wonder how you could have got the exposure wrong, how the focus can be so far out – in fact, what exactly are you focussed on? Certainly not the subject of your photograph! So press the ‘X’ key on your keyboard, forget about it – you’ll delete it later, if you ever remember to.
Then one day, maybe weeks later, maybe even years, you do stumble across that thing in your catalogue that disappointed you so. It’s still there, festering in your catalogue. Right, time to take action. Select it and press the delete key. It makes no difference whether you press the delete key hard or soft, but there is something cathartic about giving it a good, firm ‘tap’. Begone!
But wait. There’s something preventing the follow through. The conviction has wavered. I think I see something, something different. Is this really the same picture I remember hating so much. Press the ‘Z’ key – zoom in and peep at those pixels. Yep, it’s the same image, and yep, the subject is still out of focus, and the photo is still a piece of crap. ‘Z’ key again – zoom back out. There’s no ‘D’ key for disappointment.
Yes, I remember now. It is the same image, but somehow I see it differently now. I think I may have been inspired by the BBC show The Living and the Dead that we’ve been watching recently. A family in 19th Century Britain is being haunted by ghosts from the future and vice-versa. It’s convoluted, I’m not going into it now, but the point is that she’s a photographer and ‘sees’ ghosts in the pictures she takes.
Right, ok. That’s what I’m seeing here. Press the ‘R’ key – choose ‘1:1’ and select the square crop that works with the leading lines, at least they seem to have some sharpness to them – how on earth did I focus in the foreground?! Shake head, toss the bad thoughts out and get back to the task at hand.
There is a ‘D’ key, and it’s for hope! Into the Develop module. Apply my preset for the ‘Fujifilm Monochorome+R’ camera calibration. I need constrast. Lots of heavy contrast. Basic panel – throw some sliders to the left, others to the right. Clarity, always clarity. Tone curve – give it an S-bend. Getting there.
Almost there. Old pictures equals yellow sepia, right? Into Split Toning – Highlights at 60/20 for Hue/Saturation and the Shadows at 60/10. (Is there a better way to do sepia?) Need a vignette. Why do I always need a vignette?! I don’t know but I always seem to, and this one has to be heavy and dark – Lightroom doesn’t do realistic white vignettes, it never has it maybe never will. So this needs to be dark, and heavy. I have presets but they’re not sufficient. Into the Effects panel and give yourself a bigger hit of that Amount slider and boost the feather to the max. Aah, nice.
One last thing. Grain. Lots of it. One last thing to hide the fact that this is just a dressed up crappy picture. Lights out? No, ‘F’ key into full screen and step back.
Yes, there she is… is that a ghost on the bridge? Whether real or of the spirit world, she seemed to be following me around all that afternoon.