The Fix

We put a too-centered fisherman in the right spot and restore a washed-out glacier.



Net Worth

Gerardo Garza
Mexico City, Mexico

The problem: Photographer Gerardo Garza had the right idea in waiting for the peak moment of the fisherman casting his net, silhouetted against the sunset-lit Lake Catemaco in Veracruz, Mexico. But the figure is too far away to have much impact -- we need a closer view. In addition, the overall color and contrast of the picture are on the dull side.

What now: We used the favorite fix of The Fix -- cropping. This way, we could both move in closer to the fisherman and put him and the boat in the lower left quadrant for a more dramatic off-center placement (Rule of Thirds and all that). We also pulled up the contrast somewhat in Adobe Photoshop CS3, which added more snap to the color. But our work here wasn't done. With the tighter crop and the increase in contrast, we could now see distinct, grainy noise in the sky. So we reduced the noise, using the plug-in Nik Dfine 2.0, as well, to smooth out the sky tones.

Next time: We'd say use a longer lens, but the photographer already had his zoom racked out to the maximum 300mm (equivalent to 450mm on the DSLR he was using). Getting closer? Well, that's tricky, too -- shooting on a lake and racing against the sunset. He probably could have gotten away with using a wider aperture -- f/8 or even f/5.6 -- because the focus is at or near infinity, and depth of field isn't that much of an issue. That way, he could have set a lower ISO for better image quality in an enlargement. All told, we think he did a pretty good job getting the shot he did, given the time constraints. There are always fixes afterward...

Tech info: Nikon D70 with 70-300mm f/4-5.6 AF Nikkor ED, 1/800 sec at f/11, ISO 400.

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Mountain To-Do

Michelle Wiley Twentynine Palms, CA

The problem: We like the X shape the reflection forms. But the sky and mountains in the distance are a little too bright, and haze lowers the contrast and color saturation further. Also, the horizon is a bit off-level.

What now? The tilted horizon was easy enough to fix with the cropping tool in Photoshop CS3. We then made a duplicate layer and used one of our favorite fix-it tools, Multiply Blend, to get more density (that is, darkness), in the sky and sunlit mountain. One of the advantages of Multiply Blend (aside from it being really easy) is that it doesn't add just neutral density, but also deepens the predominating color.

Next time: Sky/water/land shots are tricky. If you used a split neutral-density filter here, it would darken the shadows on the mountainsides along with the sky. Exposing for the bright parts of the scene would make the water and mountain shadows too dark. This is the sort of situation that calls for RAW capture, which will maintain more information in the shadows and highlights for use when processing the picture later on the computer. It's not a bad skill to learn, and not all that complicated.

Tech info: Canon EOS 10D with Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8-4 DG lens, 1/750 sec at f/8, ISO 200.

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