Meet Dumbo, probably the largest of the free standing boulders to be found at Elephant Rocks. I’ve shared images of this beast before. You can see more photographs of Dumbo and it’s granite pachyderm brethren on my Elephant Rocks State Park Set on Flickr. I’ve recently started really trying to take my post-processing to the next level. I have come to believe that I can control what happens to the exposure inside the magic light-capture box almost as well as I could possibly want. I’m not saying I know every trick in the book, but I do not feel that I am missing too much. Post-processing on the ol’ computer (equivalent of working on prints in the wet dark room of yesterday), I realize I can use some improvements and practice. So, recently I adopted some new software and set out to better improve my workflow and learn some new tricks on the other side of the negative. I am NOT saying I want to become a Photoshop/graphic artist, but just desire to be able to control aspects of the file that will allow me to create a final image that best represents my concept of the scene when I hit the shutter release.
What am I getting at and just what does it have to do with this image? One of the possible adjustments that can be found in the latest versions of Adobe software products is the ability to correct for geometric lens distortion. This is a very cool correction device that allows issues of wide angle (barrel) and telephoto (pin cushion) distortions, usually seen in at least some respect in any zoom lens, to be easily corrected for in the computer. Depending on the subject, barrel distortion can be particularly troublesome. In this photo of Dumbo, I proudly went to ACR’s lens correction tab and hit the go button and looked at the results of the default setting. All of a sudden the cool, slightly exaggerated perspective of Dumbo was gone. The image became pretty boring, to be honest. This was a good lessen for me for a couple of reasons. First, just as nature photographers might use changes in color-cast, manipulations of tonal range, or cropping unwanted portions of an image, we can also use (or remove) perspective changes from lens distortions to make our desired image. Second, any of these lens corrections made (vignetting, chromatic aberration, and especially geometric distortion) can and will cause degradation to the quality of the final image. We must carefully decide what corrections are necessary and use the sliders to make the minimum needed adjustments. Do not blindly accept the defaults given by the software. I have not been able to find much to read on this specific topic and I am still learning as I get more practice.