Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Photo Editing Tutorial 1: The Path

The Path

The Path (Unedited)

All photos, even a regular photo of a not-too-glamorous scene can benefit from a little editing.

First of all, let us get one thing straight: All photos are processed. A camera sensor captures light which comes through a lens of a certain specification. This data from the sensor is processed by the camera hardware chip. This data is then further processed by the Camera software. This is the ‘RAW' photo state and some cameras can save it. If the output is JPEG or other such formats then this RAW photo data is further processed and then saved as a JPEG. Now, different lenses have different specification. Different sensors have different hardware and different cameras have different camera software. So what you get finally is a result of all this variable processing. And this still may not be what you saw!

What you see with your eyes (and interpreted by your brain) gives you a ‘feeling' about the frame. This feeling is what we want to communicate with others. We can do this via multiple mediums, a photograph is one of which. The photograph has to represent what we ‘saw'. There is often a gap between what we ‘saw' and what the output photo from your camera is. Editing is the mechanism of trying to bridge this gap.

“50% of the creative process occurred in the Dark Room” said Ansel Adams.

For us today, the darkroom is digital.

Let us see what we did to this particular photo. The editing was done on an Android phone using Snapseed software.

On observing the photo we find that the contrast is high. The sky is blown out with less detail. The foliate and grass are darker. In real life, it was a rainy overcast day. The sky was dark and set the mood. The toplight was enough to make the grass shine a very bright and fresh green. The overall feel was not so contrasty and stark. So we want to lower the contrast of this photo, darken the sky and lighten the grass. This kind of adjustment can be done using the HDR tool.

So in the first step, we apply the ‘HDR filter' with the ‘Nature' template. This usually results in the photo looking too artificial and dramatic to my taste. So after applying this filter we go to ‘view edits' and open the HDR edit in brush mode. Here we apply a mask of varying intensity. The sky benefits the most from the HDR filter as usually, the phone sensors are unable to differentiate between the different tones of the sky as they are all very close to each other in the high key. i.e. they are all similarly bright so the sensor captures them flat. HDR can also benefit in bringing out some shadows. Its effect on the mid-tones needs to be controlled, though.

The result has a better balance between the sky and the path.

Since the path is our central element we enhance its tonal contrast using the ‘Tonal Contrast' filter.

Finally, we use the ‘Selective' tool to increase some local contrast to bring out the foliage. This is done by selectively reducing or increasing the brightness, contrast and structure of the selection.

That's it. Thank you. Hope this was useful.

In Part 2 we will talk about tonality, light, shadow and other such weird things.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Old sketches

Jivdhan and Nanacha Angtha

These must be from the 90's - perhaps 95. I was unwell at that time and used to dream of the mountains. The Sahyadris haunt me as nothing else. I yearn to experience the romance of the mountain fastness again. so so so much...

Sunday, June 16, 2019



After a long long time, we visited Solapur. During school years we used to visit every summer vacation. It was my mother's 'maher'.  My grandparents used to wait for us. So many cousins used to come together. We used to have a blast of a time. So much fun.  As we may have it, my wife's mother is also from Solapur. She spent her childhood summer vacation in Solapur too.  Hardly a kilometre from my grandparents' place. But we didn't know each other then.

Solapur has not changed much. My cousin Aniket was also in town from Bangalore. We went to eat mutton sheek at painter chowk. You dont get similar sheek anywhere else.  We got a little spiritual and at sheek sitting on the floor of the shack.  Next day we visited Akkalkot math.  In the evening we went to visit the farm of my mami's friend. Nanu enjoyed playing in the mud. It was such a pleasant experience - walking the farm.  How we city dwellers miss nature.

Mutton sheek at Painter chowk

Akkalkot: waiting for prasad

Swami Samarth

Akkalkot prasad. I was a great experience.


Nanu enjoying playing in the mud.


Lakshmi Narayan

Pav Chatni

Punekar Kamthe.  I have had sugarcane juice here since I was a kid.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Across the valley

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”
— Isaac Asimov

Saturday, March 23, 2019


“This above all; to thine own self be true.”
— William Shakespeare

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Flower

“Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.”
– Bertrand Russell

Friday, January 11, 2019

A good start

Photo by Sagar Kapatkar

One fine Thursday we went to Lonavala on the bikes. A good start to the year.