Scott Davenport Photography
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'Scuse Me....While I Kiss The Sky...

I've been working through my backlog of photos, and encountered several where I wanted to get more definition and/or contrast in the sky.  I shoot in RAW and had recently listen to Raj Gupta's podcast on dynamic range...so decided to try my hand at pulling in some details with the Burn adjustment in Aperture. And with some failed attempts, I also branched into playing with the Color Monochrome adjustment. The photos below aren't spectacular, but illustrate the adjustments very well. And after applying the adjustments, I have versions I'd more readily share.

A Successful Burn

During an mid-day visit to the beach (not the best time for lighting) the sky is qutie washed out in the photo. This had the effect of being a distraction - I wanted the foreground subject to stand out more. I applied the Burn adjustment to the the sky:

With the Burn applied, the blue tones from the sky were pulled in much more nicely. The default amount of 0.4 on the Burn slider worked well. And the contrast between foreground and background evened out better. A subtle difference, but the foreground pops out just a bit more and the eye isn't drawn into a bright void of a background.

 

An Unsuccessful Burn

I used the same technique on another photo I took years ago in Prague. It was a gray day, with some clouds in the sky, and it just looked blah. This photo was also a JPEG, so the depth of data in a RAW image wasn't there. With the Burn adjustment:

Basically a darker gray. I wasn't expecting a gorgeous sky - it was a gray day - but not a result I was happy with. I tried Contrast and a few other adjustments without much improvement.

What if I cheat nature a little? I turned to the Color Monochrome adjustment. Color Monochrome is applied to the entire photo by default, but as with most other Aperture adjustments, it can be brushed in/out selectively. I chose a soft blue and brushed the adjustment away from the buildings and hillside. The result:

Certainly more pleasing than the drab gray. The clouds in the lower sky do not look very natural either. And yes, I do consider this a wee bit of cheating.

A final experiment with the Color Monochrome I did was applying a light pink cast to the entire photo, giving it a vintage feel. And the texture in the sky was maintained (unlike some Black & White adjustments I tried), so the overall photo is pleasing.

Yes, more appealing than the original....and less deceitful too. :)