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Project MCP April
How to rescue a photo
A photo shot under difficult conditions, and photo editing software.
MCP Actions are running a weekly photo challenge/inspiration group on Flickr (details here) which I am enjoying taking part in. I'm going to explain how I rescued 2 photos for the April challenges which were taken in very poor conditions, to show that you really can take great photos just about anywhere.
The two challenges were 'showers/wet' and 'lie down on the ground and shoot above'. For the first, I had set out to take some photos of the emerging bluebells in the spring sunshine and ended up cowering in the woods in torrential rain and a thunderstorm. Knowing you shouldn't hide under a tree in a thunderstorm I bravely set out across the fields and tried to capture the pouring rain with my camera. For the second, I had set out to take photos of a tulip festival and was again driven inside by the pouring rain. This time I had the stately home Polesden Lacey to dry off in with it's magnificent ceilings and chandeliers.
Taking photos in the pouring rain is difficult on many levels - you will be getting soaked, your camera will be getting soaked, you've probably got rain splashes on the lens, it might be quite dark and you are trying to be creative. For this photo I just wanted to catch the movement of the rain drops so I needed a slow shutter speed. I also needed a dark background which wasn't distracting so they would show up. The second was hard to pull off in the middle of the woods but I had a moment of genius and focussed very close, to throw the entire background out of focus. I wasn't sure if it would work, and the shot out of the camera was grey and disappointing. A simple bit of curves magic in Lightroom lifted the photo though, and I like it.
These are the Lightroom settings I used:
2. Lie down and shoot above
I had already submitted a couple of cloud pattern photos for this challenge, but when I found myself trapped by the rain in the Golden Saloon at Polesden Lacey I thought I'd give an indoor 'shooting upwards' challenge another go. Here the tricky conditions were: it was incredibly dark (what with the grey clouds, rain and low lighting), it was very busy (I wasn't the only one escaping the rain) and I was reasonably embarassed about lying down on the floor to get my shot. So no light and the need to work very, very quickly.
This is the shot out of the camera (ISO 1600, f9, 1/60th - the chandelier was about a metre tall so I couldn't use a wide aperture otherwise it wouldn't all have been in focus):
You can see it is too dark and too yellow. No, I didn't fix my white balance before I took the photo and yes, I probably should have. Using adjustment layers in Photoshop I tweaked the curves and the colour balance like this (I could've used Lightroom but I was already in PS):
A quick square crop, and this was the final result:
By adjusting the shadows, midtones and highlights separately, I was able to exaggerate the glow coming from the middle of the chandelier.
Links & suppliers
This is a link to the Project MCP website where you can find this month's challenges if you are inspired to have a go - you can join in at any time. They post the whole month's challenges in one go, and you have the month to finish them. If you are reading this in May, you can win a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens this month.