The Magic Frame: Making A Photograph



Ken Nature Reserve 

Photographs, said the great Ansel Adams, are make and not taken. The photograph above does not aspire to the great heights that Ansel Adams achieved, and I would blush for shame, if ever the thought of comparison crossed my mind.

However, when I took the photograph, I was returning to my hotel, after spending an hour at the Raneh Falls. One of the tragedies of the visit was the enforcement of a strict closing time at 5 pm. This does take away several hours of marvellous light.

Anyhow, as I was slowly driving back, I stopped the car, and went into the woods. The atmosphere inside was beautiful, and unpolluted. For a city-slicker like myself, this was a Godsend. The overall feeling was one of calm and peace.

This is what I wanted to capture in a series of shots that I took when I was inside the wooded areas. However, time was pressing, the light was failing rapidly, and the wild boar were starting to make their presence felt.

I took my photographs and I left. When I looked at the photograph above, it looked nice, but did not have any point of view that made me very happy.

To give it some depth, I started with a brightness layer, and added in a diagonal ND mask, to give the sense of light coming in from the ‘upper left’ hand side of the photograph.

I burned in some of the excess highlights at the top left in, and also dodged the tree trunk to give it some life.

While it is not an outstanding photograph, I think I managed to save it to some extent, from almost complete oblivion.

What is the image you see in your mind? How can you bring it to life, without excessive manipulation?

As photographers, these are some of the questions we need to answer when making a photograph.


  1. I like how you processing in your mind the images. I guess we all have some sort of an idea how we would like our images to look like and we all have this insane amount of software with which we can play. Some know when to stop, some go overboard and name it art of a digital kind. Manipulating images can be your newest addiction very fast, even a very crappy image can be turned into something, so excessive manipulation will be applied in that case. I believe we all kinda develop a level of manipulation with which we can live with and establish a “look” or “style” if you will. That’s my mumbling and humble opinion as a non professional over this issue 🙂

  2. That would be a perfect spot to sit on the bank with a fishing rod. I think it probably needs a little more light. Can you try a process of fading. The colours are very intense and and there doesn’t seem to be a stream of light from the sun anywhere. Just a suggestion.

    1. Hi Leslie. Yes, there can be a process of fading. But, maybe I was wrong in using the expression ‘ stream of light’. ‘Light filtering’ would have been better. It was very dark in there, where I shot, and I was shooting handheld.
      In general, I am partial to intense colours, and this is where I can sometimes go overboard.

  3. I am still new to Adobe Creative Cloud, and I do use it for my post-processing. I usually have only two goals. The first is to make the image look like what I saw. The second is to make the image feel like I felt.

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