Peony variations

I often get asked what on earth I do “all week”. Surely I turn up at a wedding or portrait session, take some photographs then put my feet up with a glass of wine and EastEnders for the remaining days. Well, today is a good example of time I spend behind the scenes to make sure that my clients get the best possible images. I’m a member of the Digital Wedding Forum as is one of the top Aussie photographers, Ryan Schembri. He’s a dazzling photographer who keeps winning international and Aussie awards, aged about 20 and one of his trademarks is his often moody and dark post-processing. He’s released a set of PhotoShop processes which other photographers can use on their own images – not giving away all of his digital darkroom secrets – but certainly allowing us to share some of his expertise.

How does this relate to my seeming inactivity? Well, Ryan’s actions arrived today and the first thing that needed doing was experimenting to find out what they did. There were some expiring peonies near my desk, so I photographed them then set about trying out the actions – about 13 main ones, each with three or four variations. Below are some of the results. What makes for endless variations is that the action usually produces a result on a layer and you can vary the opacity of that layer – so that more or less of the original image shows through. Then you can darken or lighten or otherwise change particular areas of the image, just as you would in a traditional wet darkroom. Below are a few of the variations.

When looking at a wedding or portrait session, I’ll often pull out a number of images that I think would benefit from particular post-processing techniques and show my clients. I’m aiming for timeless images, wanting to bring out the best they have to offer, whether an expression, shapes or textures.

Next week I’m at a seminar with another Aussie – Queenslander Marcus Bell – and next month it’s Chicago for four days with five top international photographers learning more about taking great photographs and sharing techniques. So when you ask what I do all day … well, let’s just say that I don’t know who’s in Albert Square this week.






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