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NewB with what I'm SURE is a newb question. #1
Sean DeMars's picture
by Sean DeMars
January 21, 2014 - 1:54pm guys, what’s going on? I’m Sean, quite possible the worst photographer in the world, but I’m trying to get better everyday. I’ve only started doing this about a year ago, and I think I’m getting better with every click, but I still have a LONG way to go. Let me get to the question: I don’t think I’ve found MY style, so I’ve been very open to trying new things and mimicking other styles in an effort to find my own place and look. Well, I’ve recently come across a look that I really, really like….and I have no idea how to do it. LOL. Here’s the link to it:

The style of these images is, to me, very beautiful. If it’s possible, could someone help understand a little more how I might get that look? Are they cutting contrast, adding fade, something with luminance? 


Also, just for reference, here’s some of the stuff that I do now (just so you can see how far away my current style is):


Finally, it’s been a while since I’ve been on internet forums. I don’t remember if people don’t like you to post links or whatever. I assure you I have no ulterior motive. I’m just trying to ask this question in the most clear and precise manner possible. 

Thanks in advance!

The worst photographer....ever?

Sean DeMars's picture
by Sean DeMars
January 21, 2014 - 2:31pm

Also, let me add that I only use aperture. 

The worst photographer....ever?

Dr.Bob's picture
by Dr.Bob
January 22, 2014 - 5:00am

Take a look at the recently posted stories regarding curves here on this site and I’m sure you’ll be a long way in replicating this look.

‘The’ look in the photo’s is not really consistent, but in general there is a reduction in contrast as well as saturation (they go hand in hand most of the times) and some green tinting. It can be achieved in a multitude of methods, but most of the times you’ll use curves. 

Sean DeMars's picture
by Sean DeMars
January 22, 2014 - 5:21pm

Thanks, Dr. Bob. I really need to learn how to use curves. I’ve read the recent posts on here, and even watched the aperture training videos, but honestly it’s all kind of going over my head. I wish I had someone who could sit down with me in front of a computer and help me understand the inns and outs. 



The worst photographer....ever?

CJack's picture
by CJack
February 6, 2014 - 8:38am

  Sean, you’ve probably noticed them because they’re on the front of the Tips page here, but in case they weren’t there when you last looked you should check out the curves articles there.

  One thing I can definitely suggest as far as how head scratching it is, is to just focus on the curves adjustment while trying to wrap your head around it, don’t integrate it with all of the other also not-exactly-intuitive-at first functions.   Get a handle on one aspect at a time.  Screw around with all the adjustments to see what they do but don’t try to learn the concepts of all of them at the same time beyond what your moves are looking like.

  For starters, take a photo and set the curves adjustment range to “normal” and you’ll get a basic range.  Don’t start with a separate red, green or blue curve, try the rgb one, which is the full range of colors.  The bottom is the darks, the top is the lights and the kids between.   It’s an oversimplification to say that moving a point above the line boosts that point and moving it below the line decreases it, but it’s good enough to get an idea of how to approach it.

   With the single red, green and blue curves, it’s important to learn what the opposite of each color is, so to speak.   What you see more of when you reduce it.    Grab the curve of green, for example, at the top, and pull it to either side of the line so that it stays a straight line, doesn’t, well, curve  :  )   Notice that going up, boosting green, makes it look greener and going down, decreasing green, makes it look magenta.  Magenta is what you get when you lessen green, less red is cyan (greenish blue) and less blue is yellow, basically their opposites on the color wheel.  So mess around with that, only grabbing the curves at that point (top) and keeping the adjustment line straight for now, and don’t worry how crazy it looks when you move it halfway because very often you’re taking a curve and moving it very slightly to get what you want.  So after you’ve pulled it far enough to see the colors change obviously, move it back 50% and the change you saw is incorporated but more subtly, and then try 50% of that.


Cheers   :  )

Dr.Bob's picture
by Dr.Bob
January 27, 2014 - 6:45am

Well the owner of the site sells 1-on-1 training sessions…

Perhaps you could share what is going over your head? There is not much of magic to curves. It just takes a lot of practise and a little basic knowledge about primary colours (that you should have learned in high school). But most important, you should know yourself what the look is you are trying to create. There is no one who can teach you that.

smb's picture
by smb
January 27, 2014 - 12:31pm

Perhaps a lot of what you like in those images is done in the camera. It appears a lot of the shots have minimal DOF. That can be accomplished by shooting wide open or with longer focal length lenses. By keeping the background out of focus the subject will naturally pop out more. Try taking the same image with different F stops and see if that gets you closer to your own style.


David  Moore's picture
by David Moore
January 28, 2014 - 7:52am

Aperture is a great program, don’t worry about it being the only program you use.  With curves comes Histograms!  They show a visual representation if your images is too contrasty or flat.  Every suggestion given here is a suggestion and not a rule to alway follow, (my disclaimer).   When moving the curves from its default position you are changing contrast and Saturation so be careful to look at the image for both.  You can set the AP brick of curves to Luminocity and it helps to not effect the Saturation of the image when adjusting  curves,  somewhat!  (never found it perfect,  though maybe thats just me)   Pull some image you like off the internet and import them into AP.  Look at the histogram the RGB numbers of the shadows and highlights….then look at yours and compare.

Anyway I liked you Street, documentary, Travel Photogs.  If you take pic in a wooded area or in a  park on a cloudy day of Model like people you’d get the same look you want.  Warning, once you get what you want your desires may change.  ”One must follow there own Path,” Obi Wan
Twitter= @davidbmoore
Scottsdale AZ

bjurasz's picture
by bjurasz
January 28, 2014 - 10:53am

Sean, I’m wondering if you realize fundamentally what a curve is in the first place.  If not, it might help to think of it in this manner.  Notice it is a grid with an X and a Y axis.  Think of the bottom left corner being black, the upper right being white, and everything inbetween being some level of gray (overly simplistic, but bear with me).  Now, one axis is the input color, and the other axis is the output color.  If we draw a straight line from (0,0) bottom left to (255,255) upper right, then the output color is always the same as the input color, and the image is not changed.  Now move that line a bit away from where it is, and now there will be times when the output color is not the same as the input color any longer.  And that is what curves do for you – change colors.

Take this example a bit further and ask how the classic S-curve increases contrast.  The steep part of the line in an S-curve says that a narrow range on input colors turns into a bigger range of output colors.

Hoping this helps.

Bill Jurasz
Austin Texas

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