Compositing to Recover an Image

Compositing to Recover an Image

Compositing to Recover an Image | A first try-out for ON1 PhotoRAW 2023

I tend to like my photographs to be straight out of camera (SOOC) or if I have to edit them, just trying to achieve a filmic (analogue film) look. That’s not to say that I won’t play around with images, just that if I don’t have to all then all the better.

I recently posted some shots of the OCRDA Aqua Adrenaline power boat racing which came to Torquay at the end of April, 2022. Now in truth, because of the conditions I did play around with these in post as the results otherwise would have been less than usable. However, for this exercise I decided to take one of the least interesting and play around with it with the idea of making it into something more interesting as well as making a good topic for this post.

What camera and lens did I use?

The original image was created using a Panasonic Lumix GX-80 with a Lumix 12-60mm f3.5-5.6 lens. This is a great “walkabout lens” which I use for everythig from candid and street through to landscape. The Lumix GX-80 is a 16MP M43 (MFT) sensor camera which at a crop of 2x means I am shooting 24 -120mm. I generally find that the images are often a little softer than if I use say my Fujifilm x-T1 or my Nikon D600 but they are perfectly acceptable in general for the genres I tend to shoot eg candid, street etc.

Here’s the original image for comparison with the header image.

Photo copyright Dave Collerton. All rights reserved.

Getting Started

For this project I decided to use the new release of On1 PhotoRAW 2023 and this worked really well here. Before the 2023 release of ON1 PhotoRAW I would have used Luminar Neo from Skylum as this has good sky replacement tools but since the release of ON1 PhotoRAW 2023 that is no longer necessary. Luminar Neo for this reason tends to gather dust nowadays!

The first job here was to apply a tone curves to enhance the various tones in the image, for example to lift the tones in the shadows and mid-tones while pulling down the highlights. I love analogue film and so I tend to take every opportunity to make my images look like analogue. Alternatively you could simply aply a preset to rebuild the image with respect to the tonality and colourisation etc. In ON1 PhotoRAW 2023 you now have the option to apply presets generally or just to specific parts of the image, for example to the sky, people, foreground etc. It’s a pretty cool feature

After all of this – which only took a few minutes – it was time to apply a new sky. Now, I have a lot of sky’s that I have collected over the past few years, both by taking photos as well as by searching for free sky’s online. Here I have opted to use one of the sky’s included in ON1 PhotoRAW 2023 under the Storm section. This particular one was Storm 4.

Applying a new Sky

Applying the sky is simplicity itself and ON1 PhotoRAW 2023 does a pretty good job of getting it right without a lot of faffing around. I did need to move it around a little as well as fine tune the edges of the mask but these are minor adjustments. I didn’t feel here that the reflection mode would add anything so I left this out. I also retained the warmth of the original rather than making it warmer or cooler, both options being available to me. Once all this was in place I made a few minor adjustments in Develop, for example to exposure and saturation.

In terms of improvement, if this was for something other than this blog there are several things I would do to improve it.

  • Firstly, I’d work a little harder on the shadows as the light in this location has cast some shadows because of the change in the light source
  • Secondly, the image as a whole could benefit from some general work on saturation and contrast. It’s a bit “in your face” as it stands, a tad too much contrast and a little dull overall.

Is it an improvement? Well, yes, I think it is. The original was never going to work SOOC so something needed to be done to try to save it. Here’s a comparison of the work undertaken.

Compositing to Recover an Image
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