Partly to test some lenses I had been given, and because I’ve been trying to capture a misty autumn mood, I popped up to the little cemetery in Hursley a few times before work last week and snapped away with the 20D. Unfortunately the fog lifted more quickly than I’d hoped and left me with a collection of somewhat drab images, with nice autumn tones, but no “pop” or spark. There were some pleasing compositions though – I’m vaguely surprised how I can keep finding new ways to see the same statue – and this face on view of the angel with the beech rising up behind I quite liked.
However, on close inspection I’d slightly missed the focus with the manual lens I was using and so, coupled with the flatness of the light, it left me a bit disappointed. Normally I don’t do a great deal of processing on images since I try and get the image I want in the camera and whenever I do tamper I often end up making too many changes and becoming frustrated. However since the “natural” look wasn’t working here I thought I’d try something else.
Figuring that monochrome is the first refuge of the desperate photographer, I turned to the B&W conversion tool in Photoshop CS3. Originally using the “Infrared” preset which really bumped up the contrast by boosting the levels in the grass. I then also moved the red and magenta sliders way to the right as well as yellow and green to boost the background of autumn leaves and their fallen comrades. In other words I created a fake IR effect since the autumn leaves show up just the same in IR as their summer counterparts. This wouldn’t necessarily work in other circumstances but since everything else (tree branches, statue and stone work) in the image is fairly neutral in colour, it works well here.
Rather than leave it as a pure greyscale, I gave it a slight tint to warm it up a bit. Then I made a duplicate of the background layer and applied a moderate blur and then overlaid it on the original background using the “soft light” blend mode, setting the opacity to fifty percent. And so I ended up with the final image which I posted to flickr last week:
The overall effect is then a kind of fake-IR-Orton-y mish-mash but it works much better for me. The blended blurred duplicate disguises the off focus and adds an ethereal quality to the background trees and grass, while the adjusted B&W conversion helps the angel stand out and gives that ghostly foliage look we’re familiar with from real infrared.