Maybe I’m unable to appreciate the subtleties he’s trying to express, but I was somewhat underwhelmed with both of Alain Briot’s essays on in-camera blurred landscapes (part 1 and part 2). Such images “need to rely both on color, placement of elements and use of shapes and lines to be successful”, “the type of light you use is very important”, “good processing is crucial”, and “setting the black, white and the grey points precisely is crucial to the success, or failure, of these images”. Well, I never. But then at last there is something specific to camera-blurred images:
I found that using a [Photoshop] high pass contrast filter on top of the image, after all the adjustment layers are completed, helps a lot in defining the detail level of the image.
Because these images are by nature less detailed, sometimes increasing the level of detail is necessary. This helps bring up the interest level in the image as well as make the image more engaging visually for the viewer. Of course adding details is not possible. All we can do is increase what is there. We cannot add anything new. And again increasing what is there through sharpening only takes us so far since there is little detail to start with.
This is where High Pass Contrast processing comes in. This approach basically increases the local contrast between objects, or more appropriately here between the different areas of color and contrast. In effect, to my eyes, it increases the contrast of the lines in the image, the black level of these lines I think.
I do something very similar – but in Lightroom. Its Clarity setting has pretty well the same effect.
Here it is set to 100, which is unusually high for me, and in this case I’ve also given it a second dose using a gradient filter over the whole image (the same technique as in my Ultra Clarity preset, only with a single gradient). Normally I wouldn’t go anywhere near that far, and a much more moderate Clarity setting is usually all that one of these blurred image needs (or can stand).
The picture, if you’re interested, shows the Kingston Lacy beech avenue which runs for over 2 miles along the busy main road between Blandford and Wimborne in Dorset, and it’s a well known location (see one example) that couldn’t be much more perfect for the exercise-averse photographer. You park right by the trees, prise your backside from your Recaro bucket seats and you’re all set to go….