Exercise 14: Creative Interpretation

As the name suggests, this Exercise is about making interpretations for a creative purpose. Unlike many previous exercises, this exercise allows us to experiment with all the treatments available on our software to create interesting results. However, it also advises treating these experimentations, as a preparation only.

After browsing through my archives, I chose an image that I was planning to rework for many months now. I have captured this image around 3 years back in Rajasthan, India. I really like this portrait, but I was never happy with the bright colour of the (turban) headscarf the nomad is wearing. The bright orange colour distracts viewer’s attention from his face. The subject has very interesting eyes and textures on his skin. I aim to use few different textures and analyse, which treatment best compliments the image and brings more attention on the features than the turban. To be very frank I already know the effects that I want to try out for this portrait.

  1.  Aged look
  2. Black and white
  3. Increase the tonal range (the HDR kind)

The other objective behind choosing this particular image is, I also wanted to increase the collection of my portraits. I have mentioned in my physical learning log that I want to start a project (on going). This project aims at capturing different emotions of various people. I know this has been done in the past, and there is nothing unique about it. Still I would like to do this, as it is something I really feel like doing it.

Coming back to this exercise, lets have a look at the original image.

Ex 14-Creative-1 Exposure: 1/50 sec @ f/5.0

ISO: 200

Focal Length: 105

(At that time I had only one lens Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6)

I adjusted the following 2 sliders

Fill Light: 14

Black: 7

Rest every this is left as it is.

After making the above adjustments, I created a virtual copy of the original image. I decided to try all the presets in Lightroom 3. Just in case there is something more suitable than my pre assumes presets. However, the selection was narrowed down to the above-mentioned effects.

1. Color creative – Aged Photo

Ex 14-Creative-2 This is one of the pre-set that comes with the Lightroom 3 when you make a purchase. I have seen this effect many times, but had not tried it. I have used this effect on the virtual copy. After selecting the pre-set, I made some adjustments. This gave desired feel to the image. To me the dark areas were bit faded hence, I increased the “Black” from 11 to 22. I also felt the colours were too muted and by increasing the saturation I made them pop out a bit more. However, low enough adjustments preserved the old feel. Reducing the brightness from +57 to +48 has brought back the details on his cheekbone and nose.

2. Black & White Creative – Look 4

Ex 14 Creative-5 To achieve this look I tried out B & W treatment of both “Nik Color Efex” and “Lightroom 3”. To be very frank, initially I thought the results of Nik treatment were better. However, when compared it at 100% and later side by side, I realized the B & W version of the LR3 treatment was better. It was sharper and had more details. Especially the clarity and sharpness of the eyes was quite noticeable. I decide to go with the LR 3 version of B & W.I did modify some of the values of the default “Black & White Creative – Look 4”. The image looked overexposed after applying the pre-set. Hence, I reduced the exposure from +0.25 to -0.55 and pulled down the recovery slider from 79 to 56. I though fill light was appropriate so left it untouched to 15. Shadow details were bit brighter hence increased the blacks from default 15 to 20. I kept the brightness as it is to +114. Increased the contrast from +50 to +63 to upsurge the isolation. Lastly clarity was brought down from default +42 to +12. I remember my tutor had pointed out, too much of clarity can introduce problems depending on the media the image is being used.

3. Tonal contrast (Color Efex 3.0)

Ex 14 Creative-4

I have seen many photographers using this kind of high dynamic effect on their images. Though I never liked it but thought of using it just for the sake of exploring the popular treatment. Kept the highlight contrast as it is at 30. I felt the midtone contrast was too much and was exaggerating the details. Hence reduced it to 20. Increased the shadow contrast from 30 to 36 this made the details like facial hair very prominent. I also reduced the saturation lightly.

After making the above adjustments, still the image had overstated details hence I added one control point right in the middle of the face and reduced the opacity of the filter. This reduction was restricted to nose and cheekbone area.


At times in my free time I keep playing with different filters or techniques in Photoshop and LR3. This keeps my memory refreshed while giving me experience in handling different tool in both the software. Though must add here that, I had not tried different looks for the same image.

Apparently Color Efex filter give a lot of flexibility in controlling the effect. However, I admire LR3 more for the ease with which it handles its presets. It not only has quite a few default presets, but you can even create a desired pre-set and save it for future. Long time back I was this blog, which explains how to create and save your presets, I would like to share the link here.



After I had finished processing, I observed and compared the images. Original image is good, but I some how do not like the bright orange turban. Next is the image with tonal contrast. I am quite sure I do not like such strong processing either. Due to over processing, when it is zoomed one can see a lot of loss of details in many parts. To me, it looks very artificial. I like both, black and white and Aged photo effect. B & W gives it a traditional crisp and clean look and brings out the relevant detail. At the same time “Aged photo” bring warm tones to the image without making them extreme. It also softens nomad’s hard and rugged looks. I am sure I would be using these effects as part of my processing on a regular basis.


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