Styles and street photography – using ACDSee

Pictures can appear “natural”. Or they can have style, applied in post processing after the shot was taken. This will be a look at some styles created with the imaging program ACDSee. Which is not by Adobe (sorry Photoshop fans).  All of the post adjustments were image wide.  No brush, selection tool, or dodging or burning was used.  The occasion for this shot was a public arts festival, held outdoors. So lots of opportunities to play street photographer. This image was taken with an Olympus E-M5 M4/3 camera fitted with a Sigma 19mm lens.

We will begin with the unedited version.  The camera was in its RAW+JPG file mode.  This is the JPG version.  Obviously strong backlighting.  The exposure is for the bright part of the scene, so that the highlights would not be blown out.  For all of the other versions the RAW file was used, to better lift the shadows.
The first effort will use the Split Tone tool.  Which splits the image into the bright and dark areas.  Then lets you alter the colors differently for the two domains.  First step was to lift the shadows by bumping up the lower end of the tone curve.  After that came the Split Tone.  The brighter areas were left unaltered.  It was the shadows that were given a boost in green.
Now we will get very faint color, using a couple of EQ tools.  This time the dynamic range was first flattened by applying big adjustments to the sliders for Highlight Enhancement and Fill Light in the General panel, plus boosting the shadow bands in the Light EQ tool.  The Color EQ tool then let me boost red saturation to restore at least some skin tone, while boosting the aqua brightness to perk up the T-shirts.
ACDSee does have prepacked “filters”, 60 of them.  I played with a few to tease the color pallet a little.  First up is in the “Retro” group, called “Somber”.  Prior to applying a filter, each trial had the shadows brought up with the usual sliders for Highlight Enhancement, Fill Light, and boosting shadow bands in EQ.  All of these filters comes with choice of blend modes (16 in all), plus a fader control, so you can dial it back to the strength you want.  In this case I have the blend mode on “Screen” and the fader at 77%.  Just as examples, below is the “Normal” blend mode at 100% –
And the same filter, but in the “Screen” blend with fader at 100% –
So you can finesse each filter effect quite a bit.
Another filter from the Retro group, this is “Blue Steel”.  It is similar to Somber, but brightens colors more.  Blend mode is still Screen, and the fader is at 52%.
Now we switch to the “Color” group of filters, with the filter “Gradient Map”.  This splits the image by density, similar to the Split Tone tool, applying different colors (of your choice) to brights and darks. I left the brights alone, and applied a dark aqua to shadows.  Blend mode is now Luminosity, which really intensifies the color.
So much for those pre-cooked filters, now switching to black and white, which is popular in street photography. To handle the high dynamic range, the Light EQ tool was used.  Here’s a screen shot –
Light EQ is a different kind of Tone Curve.  Sliders set the tone adjustments, instead of picking points on a curve. I darkened the bright tones a little (lower sliders on the right side), and really pulled up the shadows (upper sliders on the left side).  Here I have kept things simple with 5 tone bands.  ACDSee lets you choose 2, 3, 5, 7, or 9 bands.
Super high contrast is also a popular style for street photography.  The usual Contrast slider was jacked up a lot, which really darkened the shadows.  Then  the Light EQ tool came into play to restore the shadows to a degree.  This time the Auto mode mode was used for the Light EQ instead of moving its sliders by hand.  So one tool counterbalanced the other for this result.

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