Taken from a note I posted on Facebook:

Most recent album: Highgate Wood On A Sunny Winter Day/11/03/12   

First, I had to decide why wanted to take these shots.  Could I justify spending time shooting and editing on that particular day?   I thought the day seemed sunny, and I saw the potential for capturing early spring photographs, especially original details, so I took the camera out of the case.

Next, I deal with the settings.  The camera, a prosumer compact, allows considerable control over settings.  However, it isn’t an SLR, although the user apparently can fit other lenses.   I set the controls as follows: aperture-priority mode, aperture F8, ISO 100 (to avoid noise), white balance sunny.   A month or two earlier, I’d accidentally kept an indoor white balance while taking shots of Regents Park and ended up with heavily sickly blue photos.    

The settings done, I took a walk to Highgate Wood, North London, and started shooting.  At first, I wondered exactly why I was doing this.  Didn’t all the photographs seem the same?  But then, I shifted my attention to the viewfinder rather than LCD, and I saw that these photos appeared more original and convincing.

After a while, I left the scene with the images stored on a memory card.  Later that night, I transferred the images to the laptop and started the processing stage, using an open source software program called GIMP (or IMP, as I refer to it).   I set the print resolution at 300 and cropped where necessary.  Relying on the viewfinder instead of the LCD meant that I had to rotate, and therefore, crop many of the images.  I forgot to select something called GEGL until midway through the process.  In GIMP, GEGL allows a greater scope for developing the various color options – largely because GIMP only supports 8-bit files.  (Confusing.)

Once I’d dealt with image size, rotation and cropping, I turned my attention to the editing stages.  First, I enlarged the images on screen.  Then, I took a look at the histograms and Levels.  The tonal range.  I created a new level to avoid destructive editing (confusing in itself). As advised in a book I read recently, I moved the Highlights slider to the left to lighten the scene and the Shadows to the right, careful to stop when problems appeared in the image.  

Next, I created another level and turned my attention to the color balance, particularly in the midtones.  Scenes differ and demand different editing actions, but I tend to emphasise a slight red and slight yellow over colours like cyan or blue. 

A level on, and I dealt with the saturation and hue.  Normally, I prefer less saturation to more.  At this point, I flattened most of the images and saved them under new names, but on a few occasions I applied an unsharpen mask or a Gaussian blur.  

Then I sent them to various online places, such as Facebook, yahoo and WordPress.

I didn’t think any of the images seemed suitable for black and white, sepia or various duotones, but I always have a keen interest in black and white or sepia, and I understand that the unsharpen mask may often be the final stage in creating a good black and white image.   

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