Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012: disqualified winner speaks out

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012: disqualified winner speaks out

Initial Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 award-winner David Byrne was stripped of his title for using too many Photoshop effects. David recently spoke to our friends at Practical Photoshop about how he made his image.

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012: disqualified winner speaks out

“I bought my first DSLR in 2009, and spent the next six months teaching myself to use it. This particular shot was taken two years later on a trip to Lindisfarne, in the Christmas holidays of 2011.

David ByrneI have other photos from the trip that are just as good, but this one really oozes atmosphere. The light was perfect, and with the added clouds and mono processing it makes the viewer feel something, good or bad!

Although it was disqualified from LPOTY for technical reasons, some pretty famous professional photographers liked it enough to name it the winner. I take great heart from that.

To be honest, my style would be impossible without Photoshop. I’ve developed my skills to help me bring out what I see when I’m taking the shot, just as the darkroom film processors once had to use their skills.

If people think you can take mono photos straight from the camera without processing, they’ve obviously never tried. Simply 
de-saturating an image would look awful. Of course, you do have to get the main composition correct in camera – especially in mono photography, as there are no colours to distract the viewer’s eye.

When I bring a shot into Photoshop, my first thought is to clean it up and remove distractions. If something’s not tied down, it’s fair game for removal. For this shot, this included some boats in the harbour which drew the eye away from the main subject.

I also added the clouds, as the sky was quite bland. I’d love to stay for the week waiting for perfect sky, but I have a day job and this was my one and only chance.

Next was the main stage of the process, bringing out that good light by dodging and burning with exposure layers. I started with a light layer with the Blend Mode set to Screen, and a dark layer with an Overlay Blend Mode, then with a soft brush on a low Opacity, gently brushed the lights and darks to get the look I wanted.

To be honest, I don’t really draw the line in terms of how much digital manipulation is acceptable. Personally, I wouldn’t completely paint over the top of a photo until there was no image left – but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the skill of someone who does that well. If it looks good, it looks good. Simple as that.”


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