Project 19: Special processing

Selective processing and prominence

Brief: Select one image that you have taken for an earlier project, in which the issue is the visual prominence of a figure and setting. Use digital processing to make two new versions of this image. In one, make the figure less prominent, so that it recedes into the setting. In the second, do the opposite, by making the figure stand out more

I chose this image of a person walking in the forest. He was wearing a green coat which would make it difficult for me to make him stand out against the foliage. 

Making a person less prominent

In order to make the figure less prominent I used Photoshop to darken the overall image, by increasing the contrast and reducing the saturation. There was a lot of highlighting on the figure, which still made him stand out against the setting, so I decided to use the 'burn' tool to darken the highlights to make him less prominent. I had to be careful not to over-use the burn tool as this would create a large dark area which may be more noticeable. 

Making a person more prominent. 

As I mentioned earlier, the person's green jacket would be a challenge to make him more prominent against a green background. Using Photoshop again I decided to copy the background. Then I rubbed out all of the top layer, except the figure. This then meant that I had isolated the person in order to apply discrete changes to him without affecting the surrounding image. I increased the saturation and vibrance of the top layer to exaggerate the colour of the figure. After that I reduced the background's saturation and contrast (slightly), making it fainter in comparison to the figure.


Completing this exercise has shown me how the emphasis of an image can be altered by using digital processing. The skills I developed whilst studying DPP came in very handy for working through this exercise. It has reminded me that even using the dodge and burn tools can impact on the prominence of people in photographs. When editing my photographs I tend to adjust the exposure, contrast and saturation slightly to improve the overall image, but I useful fail to consider the finer details in my photographs. This project has encouraged me to invest longer in presenting my images in the best possible light.