Cherry blossom

Every spring when cherry blossoms show their lovely faces in Central Park, mighty winds from who knows where roar down on the trees and shake the fragile blossoms like maracas. A shutter speed of at least 1/125 is needed to keep the swaying flowers in focus. And the closer you get to them,  the less camera light you get. Add this to low daylight, along with the technical limitations of my compact camera and you come up with a photograph with multiple problems like the one at top:

  •  Underexposure of stem and star-shaped sepals.
  •  Complete color change on above items.
  •  Dicey out of focus petals.
  •  Mushy flower on left detracting from composition.
  •  Overexposed Color blasted out of top petals.

Is this photo beyond saving? Not for me. I love the star shaped sepals at the flower’s center, so it’s PhotoShop (used here) or free of charge Gimp to the rescue.

Cherry blossom

First, I selected the photo background. For selecting image areas, I prefer the precision of the pen tool. Another benefit of this tool is being able to save the area as a path, which can then be used over and over to make changes.

After punching up the background colors with Hue/Saturation under Adjustments, I selected the stem and sepals and moved the slider under Hue till it turned green. For a more subtle green I dug into Color Balance.

Next I used the Burn tool to bring some color into the top petals and to add a few dark accents. For depth I used the dodge tool to spark up some highlights. To balance these out I also intensified the flower’s pink color.

How much to crop off was a matter of taste. I could have gone the whole hog and chopped off the entire fuzzy – wuzzy blossom on the left, but that would have left the blossom out of balance. So I retained just enough of the blurred flower to keep it from detracting from the image’s star shaped focal point.

Under Filters I selected “Sharpen” to sharpen up the focus twice. That can sometimes be overkill, but in this case it looked right.


More Post Processing Magic: