Pixel Painting

In this exercise, the goal was to produce a portrait in which pixels have been moved, altered or otherwise manipulated.

How this was achieved was down to us but experimentation, many tries and looking at online tutorials would be needed.

As part of the research for the exercise we were asked to look at the work of fashion photographer Nick Knight. See Knight’s profile under the People section of my log for that research.

Looking at the example image in the course notes, the adjustments are simple and somewhat subtle.

My own first attempt at Pixel Painting wasn’t very good. The changes I made, although trying to follow where the hair had been highlighted was a bit too garish for my liking.

Exercise 2.7-4881 - Hair Highlights

My second attempt was a bit better. I took the existing red colour of the mouth and made it a bit redder. Subtle but it stands out.

Exercise 2.8 Fill-flash-4991

However, after looking at Nick Knight’s work I realise that it’s possible to go brighter but also to paint things into an image that weren’t originally there and that is something I plan to look at in the future.



Split Contrast

Split contrast is a darkroom technique that’s much easier to achieve in the digital world. It can be used to add drama to pictures or to correct problems in exposure.

The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to change the look of a photograph by adjusting the contrast in certain areas.

I’ve approached this exercise in a similar way to that for Exercise 2.10. I’ve looked at several sources for instructions as to performing this technique. These have included the Foundations in Photography course notes and the two books that I used for the Dodging and Burning exercise.

The results are interesting, especially those achieved using the course notes.

Exercise 2.6-4947
Original Image

Exercise 2.6-4947 - Steps 1 to 6
Black and White with Split Contrast applied to the sky

Exercise 2.6-4947 - Steps 1 to 6 Black and White Layer removed
Colour reapplied

Black and White images are a lot more forgiving than colour at times. I think the changes to the sky are good in the edited B&W image but there is a distinct lack when it comes to the people as for me they blend too much into the scenery, whereas in the colour version they stand out more.

Having applied the split contrast to the image and then removed the black and white layer so that the colour returned I was surprised to see the effect it had on the colour of the sky. At first I didn’t really like it but as I look at it more I find it growing on me.

The only thing that really annoys me about both the edited black and white and colour images is where the sky and trees meet, there needs to be a much better blending between the two, something I need to learn to do.

Trying a different way to adjust the photograph resulted in the following image, along with the colour version.

Exercise 2.6-4947 - Curves Adjustment Layer

Exercise 2.6-4947 - Curves Adjustment Layer - Colour


Lightroom and Camera Raw are more restricted when it comes to adjusting the contrast like this. They provide the facility for split tones/duotones. For really simple adjustments to an image I found these far simpler to use.

Exercise 2.6-4947 Camera Raw Duotone
Camera Raw – Duotone

Exercise 2.6-4947 Camera Raw Split Tones
Camera Raw – Split tone

Exercise 2.11-4947 Lightroom Duotone
Lightroom – Duotone

Exercise 2.11-4947 Lightroom Split Tone
Lightroom – Split tone

Adjusting the tones using Lightroom resulted in a much better image than adjusting it in Camera Raw. There is a lot more detail in the grass and trees in the Lightroom images compared to the Camera Raw versions. I also think that the detail is better than in the Photoshop image.

The split tone images are better than the duotone ones because you can get a sense of the clouds in the sky, especially in the Lightroom image.

Whichever technique you use to adjust the picture, it takes practice but the results can be worth it.

Dodging and Burning

The purpose of this exercise was to teach the techniques of dodging and burning, ways of darkening or lightening areas of a photograph.

I found that the details in the course description was a bit sketchy to say the least, unlike the instructions in the exercises that followed. As I’m using both Photoshop and Lightroom a lot during this course I invested in some books to help me get my head around using various features as I come across the need for them [References 1 and 2]

Pages 70 – 75 provide details of how to perform dodging and burning but rather than use Photoshop itself, the author has used Camera Raw. The steps detailed were very clear and easy to follow.

Exercise 2.6-4932
Unedited photograph

Exercise 2.10 Dodging and Burning_processed
Edited to apply dodging and burning to the sky, polo shirt, arms and head.

In the original photograph it is not easy to see clouds in the sky, the processed image still doesn’t really show clouds but if there had been then the process of burning would have brought them out.

The changes to Matt’s head and arms and polo shirt make him stand out a lot more from the background and enable you to see more detail in his face and also allow the tattoo on his arm to be seen a lot more clearly.

The techniques described in the Photoshop book [Reference 1] were clear to follow and allowed for a lot more fine tuning of the image so that the end result is a lot more satisfying.

Pages 192 – 197 of the Lightroom book [Reference 2] describe the process of dodging and burning within Lightroom. The process is very similar to the one used in Camera Raw with the exception that you can’t change Vibrance.

The photograph below was edited using Lightroom.

Exercise 2.10 - Dodging and Burning - Lightroom-4932

Of the two I prefer the one from Camera Raw, although it’s just a matter of practice using both applications.


1. Kelby, S., (2017) the Adobe Photoshop CC book for digital photographers. New Riders (ISBN: 978-0-134-54511-0)

2. Kelby, S. ; (2015) the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC book for digital photographers. New Riders (ISBN: 978-0-13-397979-4)