Many photographers take pains to make their prints an accurate portrayal of the scene they photographed. For me, taking three-dimensional space and putting it on a flat piece of paper is already a huge departure from reality. That’s why I have zero qualms about taking any and all steps to make the final print emotionally honest as opposed to literally honest. It goes without saying— though you will note that I am saying it anyway—that I can take these liberties because I fall into that least lucrative of all photographic realms: the fine-art photographer. (Photojournalists play by a very different rule book.)
Let’s look at some typical liberties I took with an image from the Czech Republic.
As in building a house, having a good foundation and good plans make all the difference. The RAW capture of Across River at Dawn, Prague had a formal composition and full range of tones that made a good foundation for building an effective final print. That leaves the plans that will shape our image into the final print.
Many Photoshop instructors recommend that you duplicate your Background image (Layer > Duplicate Layer or Command/Control-J) as a first step in your image editing. This sound advice guarantees you’ll always have your original virgin image sitting at the bottom of your Layers palette where it can serve as your digital safety net should your image editing go awry. For this image I followed that advice and created a duplicate layer.