The One Four Challenge, a great digital darkroom project hosted by Robyn Gosby, is in review mode this month. Participants are all taking a break and reflecting on months of photo editing and skills development.
When I look back at the year’s efforts as well as the last review I did back in April, I realise 2015 has been a big year for learning. Four aspects stand out for me:
- The power of cropping
- Conquering layers and masks
- Combining a black & white layer with colour for impact
- Emotions that engage
Cropping can change the emphasis or direction of an image and this was reinforced for me time and time again. It focuses our eyes on the centre of attention you choose for your image, eliminates unwanted or uninteresting portions, emphasizes particular details. For instance with the July image of Bengie our pussycat, the cropped image has more impact and really grabs you. You get close, you see lots of details and you just want to touch her fur.
Layers & Masks
When I first started using Photoshop, layers and masks really baffled me. But for the past few weeks I have been working through a Photo Artistry course with dozens of training videos and support material. This self-paced online resource is easy to follow and I am learning a lot. I can at last say “I get it!” – I understand layers and masks and hope to be more daring and creative with them next year. For example, when I first worked with the image of Banyule Flats, in Week 4 of the May Challenge, I struggled for hours. Now it would take a fraction of the time to achieve these results and more:
Black & white with colour
Through other participants, it might have been Robyn at Captivate Me or Stacey at Lens Addiction, I learnt that with the right blend and opacity, adding a black & white adjustment layer to a coloured image adds depth and contrast. You can get more vibrant or gloomy colours, create a lighter or darker mood, depending on what you want your coloured image to look like. And of course you can also have one part of the image in black and white, while highlighting the coloured details in another part. I combined both techniques in the October Week 4 challenge, to make my dragonfly the star:
“A picture is worth a thousand words” especially when words don’t come easily. In the case of the October challenge, I wanted to convey the complex, distressing emotions I was feeling after my Mum’s death.
Illustrating the stages of grief by deconstructing then rebuilding an image was therapeutic for me and taught me that you can transform a simple photo through your editing and creativity to convey emotions. And that is powerful and engaging. I had twice the amount of likes and four times the number of comments I normally get on this challenge with the October Week One image:
Here is a gallery of your favourites for the year. These are the interpretations you voted for or indicated a preference for. Click on the first image to display in full screen slideshow.
A big thank you to Robyn Gosby for hosting this wonderful challenge. Thank you also to those who shared their feedback, suggestions and encouragement. This is what makes this exercise so worthwhile.
Be sure to read other participants’ reviews by clicking on the One Four Challenge icon. We are all looking forward to resuming the Challenge next year with renewed enthusiasm and an increase repertoire of digital darkroom techniques.