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Making a photograph tell a story

original fence photo
When you’re out and about and see a photo story in the clouds, what do you do? Make a photograph!

What’s the best camera to use?

You know  – the one you have with you, of course! I was out walking one day and liked the bank of clouds rising above the posts of the old fence bordering a paddock. I took a quick shot with my old iPhone 4S (hey, it still works fine!) and went on with my walk. No, I didn’t lay down on the ground. I just crouched down because the fence is on a bit of a rise and I wanted some foreground weeds. Fortunately, I was not bitten or stung by anything in the process! Since this was a phone camera, I ended up with a shallow depth of field and a quick exposure: 1/1250 sec at F2.4.

It didn’t look too interesting when I opened it up at home, but somehow it kept saying “play with me, play with me!” I thought this simple image could tell a story if I wrangled it enough.

First, I took the photograph into Lightroom CC and lightened it up and knocked the colors down to give it a more rustic look without going vintage. Trying to make a fence with wavering vinyl rails look vintage just doesn’t work!

country 2

I liked that image better because of the straw color of the sky and some of the grasses, but really it still wasn’t saying anything. How could I get it to talk and tell you of slow country days and splintery fences and dry grasses?

Another round of software? Yes, this time I opened the adjusted image in On1’s Perfect Effects 9.5. Perfect Effects let me easily add layers of textures to the image to roughen it up and slow it down. I varied the opacities of half a dozen textures and added a bit of vignette to darken the edges. Finally my image had some character! I did sacrifice most of the clouds, but that turned out ok.

This image slows me down and makes me reach for some weeds to chew on. OK, not really!  but now it has atmosphere instead of just darkish clouds. When I took it back into Lightroom, I realized I should have fixed the fence distortion, so I did nudge the posts a bit with the manual lens correction. Finally, I just set the image in a plain frame (not visible against the white page background) and added some text. Perfect Effects has some nice border effects but I don’t like to apply them until I have decided on the final size of my image.

Now it feels like a scene of quiet, waiting for a horse or a sheep or a tractor to come by. Or maybe nothing at all. And that’s my photo story – you, the viewer, can imagine your own ending.

country 3

Click on the link below or the one in the sidebar to check out On1 for yourself. You can get a free trial. Perfect Effects is only one part of the suite of products. Note: I’ve been using On1 software for about 7 years and am looking forward to the new version coming out this month. Links shown are affiliate links which means I may make a commission on any purchases. Which would be awesome and appreciated!

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