Turning Photos into Artworks - Queenstown Photography Tours :: Remarkable Imagery Photo Tours

Turning Photos into Artworks

Turning Photos into Artworks


It's about harnessing that spark of imagination, understanding the essence of the landscape, and maximizing its impact in the final image. This requires identifying powerful elements in the scene, removing irrelevant ones, and enhancing those that matter..
Post editing is often about simply tweaking the image to further enhance the qualities that initially inspired you. Simple edits might improve tonal and colour balance to emphasise part of the scene. Sharpness might be enhanced to pull the eye in and cropping may change the composition to lead the eye easily to the focal point.

This view of the Remarkables Range in Queenstown has been a favourite subject of mine. I see it whenever I drive in or out of town and I'm fascinated by the contrast of the rounded and sculpted Peninsula Hill sloping away in front of the darkly dramatic, toothed precipices of the Remarkables mountain range behind.

Dramatic as this landscape is, the seasons, times of day and constantly changing weather conditions create a continually changing and fascinating interplay which is often about contrasts of light and dark, jagged and triangular versus smooth and round, warm and rich colour against cold and gloom.
Recently, I passed by in the middle of a mild autumn day. The sun was high and light was even. The mountains and the hill were well lit and the sky made for a soft blue background with streaky cirrus clouds leading into puffy cumulus above the range.

It was the Autumn haze in the air that brought out the colour contrast; with the rounded tussock-covered hill a golden colour and the craggy mountains a soft purple tint. In my mind, these elements were the scene's essence. When it came to post-processing, these are the factors I wanted to emphasise.
For me, creating an artwork from a scene expresses the vision it inspires in my mind's eye. I could easily paint the landscape, but in this case, I am using photography and digital techniques to create an artwork.

This scene was shot as a panorama with several side-by-side high dynamic range images stitched together to make the full-width scene. Each of the side-by-side images was shot as a bracket of three with a correct exposure and a second and third exposure over and under-exposed by one stop. These brackets were merged in Adobe Lightroom to create each of the high dynamic range DNG images. Merging to a panorama is very easily achieved in Lightroom.

The merged panorama has the colour contrast I saw in my mind's eye, but the effect is atoo subtle to be obvious to most people. To convey my vision I needed to emphasise the colour difference and simplify the image to draw the eye to the main subject. My first step was to copy and clone parts of the streaky sky on the left of the picture to cover the big, layered clouds to the right. The sky is now less a distraction and more a textural background that enhances the play between the mountain and the hill.

Merely tweaking colours and tones in this picture would not adequately convey the colour differences that were my vision. I opted to posterise the mountains, hills and sky. Posterisation simplifies the vast range of tones and colours in an image to just a few. This was achieved in Photoshop by making a selection of a tonal and colour range such as the darker shadows of the Remarkables range and on a new layer filling that selection with a single colour epitomising those dark shadows.

Do me a favour!  Share this article and help get the word out...

Sign up for our newsletter...

Get your FREE Guide to Composing Great Landscapes
Sign up for our regular newsletter, with tour updates and discounts, news from Queenstown and the Southern Lakes, tips and guides to better photography.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram