Helen Warnod  

Tea Time by Helen Warnod

August 2020 - Tea Time

August 2020 - Helen Warnod


About the Image(s)

Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm, no tripod
Details: Manual mode, ISO 200, f/9.5, 1/20sec

This photo was taken near a village at Tissisat Falls, or the Blue Nile falls, Ethiopia.

I did not have much time to think when taking this shot, as the woman was making tea as I walked past. I took the shot on the fly as I thought it would make a great photojournalism photograph.

I have tried processing it in colour and struggled with the highlights (blown out sky) and the shadows in Photoshop. I rotated the image slightly to the right to eliminate some of the shoulder in the shot, although now I can see, I could afford to do that a little more.

I no longer remember the steps I took processing the photograph, but I ended up converting to B&W which, I think made a much stronger image, but by the time I had finished, it lacked contrast.

I'd appreciate any suggestions.

7 comments posted

Jason Kravitz   Jason Kravitz
This is a great case study in editing Helen! It is a wonderful documentary image and more so that you were able to create it while, "just walking by".

It is a shame the color version is so tricky because her colorful scarf is really beautiful in contrast to the color and texture of her dress, skin, and hair.

The two goats on the side are a nice addition as well.

I think going B&W is a good choice though, especially with the blue tarp and turquoise bag which are a bit distracting from the main subject.

But the contrast does seem to be an issue when doing a straigh desaturation type conversion.

I think this image would benefit from some area specific dodge / burning.

This is an interesting dodge/burn technique using 2 neutral gray layers in "Blend>Overlay" mode vs just using PS Dodge/Burn tool.

You paint with black on the "burn" layer and white on the "dodge" layer.

I also felt like all of the background elements are competing with the foreground and one way I thought you could minimize that is to cut out the woman (see my quick and not so accurate example) and then apply a slight Gaussian blur to background to give it some separation.

I can send you the PSD file if you'd like.   Posted: 08/03/2020 14:45:30
Comment Image
Brenda Fishbaugh   Brenda Fishbaugh
What great suggestions, Jason. I am going to try Your burn/dodge technique. And I think the Gaussian blur layer is a great idea, as there is a lot going on in this image.

What do you think about desaturating some of the bright colors in the color photo, so it can stay colored? The new HSL sliders "point" in Lightroom? If you think it is worthwhile, I'll give it a shot.   Posted: 08/04/2020 20:11:05

Brenda Fishbaugh   Brenda Fishbaugh
Helen, I am so interested in this pic, as I have a similar photo of a Kenyan woman cleaning her gourd in front of her hut, and like you, didn't have enough time to set up properly. And she's wearing a lot of color that distracts from the action. I never thought of black and white, but now I'm thinking sepia might be more "African" feeling, more National Geographic for your pic?   Posted: 08/04/2020 20:15:28

Sunil Mehta   Sunil Mehta
This is a good travel photo, capturing the activities of local is important in any travel photography. Liked the Jason's suggestion and the way he has processed.
While traveling and in a situation like this I always underexpose my photos and if have enough time then I take an exposure of highlight area this helps in retaining all the details and it is always easy to recover details from the shadow area.
  Posted: 08/09/2020 22:57:38

Terry Walters   Terry Walters
Lovely grab shot with lots of story telling, and changing to mono is definitely the way to go. I had a quick play and used Topaz Adjust HDR on the colour version to create more contrast before turning B&W, and then using the different filters in the B&W adjustment layer to get a better result.

  Posted: 08/11/2020 11:55:24
Brenda Fishbaugh   Brenda Fishbaugh
Terry, did you mean to attach your version?   Posted: 08/11/2020 12:13:20
Terry Walters   Terry Walters
Sorry but no, it wasn't anything as good as Helen's version using a small jpg as source, there has been a lot of good work put in to her version to produce this image already. It was just something I've been playing with to boost contrast before changing to mono.

  Posted: 08/11/2020 12:47:15


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