Covert Sortie


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Covert Sortie

1 Oct 2020 2:45PM   Views : 499 Unique : 333

My recent upload to the ephotozine Gallery started out as a rather bland record from the Royal International Air Tattoo in 2019. I knew there was something more in it, I just needed to work out how to process it. There was quite a bit of interest in it so I've decided to share my processing steps.

The skies varied between various shades of light grey with little texture throughout the day. Add in some mid-grey military jets and you get a rather ordinary record of an aircraft. Fine for aircraft recognition aficionados and most plane spotters, nothing more. The image below shows the colour original. 'Colour' is, I think you'll agree, a rather hopeful description.


I decided to go for monochrome as it's possible to increase the drama in a way that colour can't. I started by putting the image into Nik SilverEfex. Going through the presets I knew one or two would look promising. The 'Full Contrast and Structure' setting looked very promising as it brought out the detail in the cloudy sky. Presets, in any software, should be regarded as a starting point. Sometimes they do produce a good result that doesn't need any tweaking. Many may be happy with the result below.


As there was little colour present, adjusting the colour response sliders or choosing a 'Film Type' made barely a difference. My intention was to go for mood and drama. I decided to add a vignette which would further darken the clouds and concentrate attention on the subject..To make sure the aircraft stood out more clearly I added a Control Point and lightened the darker tones of the aircraft a little. Control points are a very effective way of making local adjustments to particular tonal values. After all those adjustments it's a good idea to try some final Contrast and Brightness tweaks.


Could I have done more? Of course. I considered adding grain but I felt with a current modern fast jet that grain was not so appropriate as, say, for an aircraft of 1970s vintage. I could have toned the image, and indeed blue an cyanotype tones looked cool (no pun intended) but I thought the straight mono looked good enough.


All text and images Keith Rowley 2020

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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
19 Oct 2020 7:50PM
A delightful progression, Keith!

Careful application of brain-on techniques makes a routine shot into something an advertiser would like.

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