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Mastering the Art of Photography

Lesson 28 of 39

Case Study: Recreating The Art of Sumi-e

Chris Weston

Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

28. Case Study: Recreating The Art of Sumi-e
In the first of three case studies, and with the help of some Hollywood-style GFX, Chris takes you on a step-by-step explanation of how he used Adobe Lightroom to fine tune the out-of-camera RAW files of his Japanese-style photographs, ready for exhibition in his galle


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6 Finding The Visual Narrative Duration:02:39
7 Behind-the-scenes: Naples Duration:07:52
9 Finding Inspiration Duration:03:19
10 Slowing Down Duration:03:57
11 Three Reasons To Shoot RAW Duration:02:29
14 WYSIWYG Duration:04:15
15 Choosing Lenses Duration:05:02
16 Perspective Duration:02:44
19 Separate And Isolate Duration:02:32
20 The Art Of Creative Exposure Duration:06:38
21 Focus On The Story Duration:04:20
22 The Passage Of Time Duration:03:00
24 Color vs. Black & White Duration:03:09
25 The Decisive Moment Duration:03:00
30 Case Study: Moody Blues Duration:03:29
31 Image Reviews Duration:03:02
33 Image Review: The Golf Course Duration:02:32
34 Image Review: Dreamstate Duration:02:38
35 Image Review: Gone Fishing Duration:02:24
36 Image Review: Promenade Duration:01:47
38 Image Review: Grass and Field Duration:02:20

Lesson Info

Case Study: Recreating The Art of Sumi-e

So let's start with the underlying story. My artistic aim is to mimic the style of the Japanese art of Senior, a minimalistic but incredibly mindful genre of art that is all about essence over Semblance. Now. In an earlier module, I revealed how I set up the camera to capture the original raw image, which is what you see on screen. Now I'm going to reveal how I process the image so it's ready for delivery to my gallery, starting with the history Graham. This is the original exposure, which, if you remember, was set at plus three stops exposure compensation. That setting was based on my vision to create an image where the white background fell in Zone nine and the white feathers of the birds in Zone eight. So looking at the history Graham, it's pretty close. So that's a good start. Now, before I start work on tone and color, I imagined this set of images as being printed in the square format. And so because they were shot on a standard 3 to 2 format camera, I'm going to use the crop too...

l to crop to a square frame. So I click on the crop tool change aspect ratio from original to one by one, which is a square and then align the frame of the crop. So in this instance, my subject is center frame and click done. Next, I want to look at the white balance now, Although white balance is a color based adjustment, it does affect tone, and that's why I set the correct level before I start using the tone adjustments by default. White balance is set to as shot, and in this case it's pretty close to where I want it. But I'm going to take the eyedropper and click on an area of white snow just for exactness, and you can see it's changed very slightly from just under 5000 Kelvin to just over. And what that's done is remove some of the blue cast from the darker tones, the black feathers and the gray legs. In this case, I don't need to alter tint so I can move straight on to the tone controls. Now, as we saw from the hist a gram, the overall exposure is close to where I want it. But looking at the patch of red on the crown, which is a mid tone red, I'd say it's slightly underexposed, so I'm going to add just a touch of positive exposure. That's enough to place the mid tones at exactly the right exposure point. So now I can work on the light and dark tones, which, after all, make up 99% of the image. My main consideration is too dark tones, which, because I applied plus three stops exposure, compensation in camera and now over exposed. And this highlights the limitations of cameras in that in camera adjustments like exposure, compensation are applied across the whole image and not selectively to certain areas. And that's why we need tools like light Room. So back to the blacks. I've got to potential controls for adjusting the dark tones the shadow slider, which affects tones from mid grey to blacks, and the black slider, which controls just dark grays and blacks. Now, because for this image I want to adjust all the darker tones, I'm going to use the shadow slider and set a negative value, and you can see the feathers now getting back to a correct exposure with no effect on the lighter tones in camera, I exposed the white feathers, so they are correctly exposed. But I want the background whites to be another zone up in the Zone nine. So I'm going to make a slight adjustment just to the background. And I'm going to use the white slider because it affects only the very brightest tones. So that's got the overall tonal range exactly where I want it. Taking the original in camera exposure and fine tuning selective areas of light and dark. But notice in the background. There are some other areas of darker shadow which are caused by the cranes footprints. In my visualized image, the background is a uniform tone, so I need to lose those shadows. First of all, I'm going to add a mask around the main subject. I select the radial filter. I'm going to click on show selected mask overlay so I can more easily position the mask and I draw an oval shaped mask around the crane. I can adjust it for size to get as close as a perfect fit as I can, and change the feather of the mouth. So any adjustments I apply don't result in a hard line with the mask in place. Any adjustments I make now are only applied to the area indicated by red. Now I'll just turn off the mark so I can see the effects of the adjustments I'm about to make, and I want to get rid of these small areas of shadow. So I'm going to take the shadow slider, and this time I'm going to add lots of positive shadow to brighten these shadows as much as possible. Now I'm using the Shadow slider because it doesn't affect any of the light tones. So I'm not brightening the already bright highlights, and this means I'm retaining all the micro detail in the background. But even at its highest setting plus 100 there's still a couple of stubborn shadows. So still, with the mask in place, I'm going to drop down to the D. Hayes Tool, which affects mid tone contrast, and I'm going to drag it across to the left, which is going to reduce the contrast in the background sufficiently to remove the remnants of those shadows that's dealt with the main area of the background. But there's still a few distracting shadows outside the mask in this area directly behind the bird, so I'm going to have to remove these one by one, using another of light rooms, selective tools, the brush talk. So I select the brush. I set an appropriate size. I want to add lots of feather to avoid any hard lines around my adjustments and a medium amount of flow, so I don't need to do too many passes over the offending blemishes. Then I take the brush and being very careful to avoid the bird, I brush over the patches of shadow, and it's important to remember that the only reason I can do this in processing is because I set a correct exposure in camera. All done. I'm pretty close to the final image. But before I finish, I just want to find Tune that patch of color in the Cranes crown, adding a bit of saturation without darkening it. So I'm going to open the H S L toolbox, click on luminescence, and I'm going to set the Red Channel to a mid range value, then click back to saturation and again taking the Red Channel. I'm going to add a small amount of saturation, and here's my final image. Soumaya photography from vision to print. Mhm, mhm

Class Description


  • See images with a creative eye.
  • Capture artistic photographs of the most popular subjects.
  • Choose the right lens and camera settings for the image you want to create.
  • Recognize and capture the “decisive moment”.
  • Add visual mood and emotion to your photographs.
  • Develop your own unique photographic style.
  • Find what inspires you and apply that inspiration to your image-making.
  • Fine-tune color, tone, and visual presence with easy-to-learn Adobe Lightroom adjustments.


Once you’ve mastered basic camera craft and photo-technique, what is the next step in advancing your photographic skillset? In this in-depth course, award-winner Chris Weston shares an approach to photography that has creativity at its heart, and reveals the secrets and professional techniques that will get you creating photographs that ‘sing’.

Taking you on a step-by-step journey, from vision to print, Chris shows you how to: tap into your natural creative instincts; ‘see’ much-photographed and everyday subjects with a unique vision; set a creative intention and get the camera to capture it authentically; and, with a few simple techniques, process superb print-ready photographs. Through ‘in-the-field’ examples and inspirational case studies, he reveals the nuances of composition that can make or break a photograph, and describes the creative tools that turn snapshots into stunning photographs good enough to adorn any wall.

Delivered in an easy-to-follow, down-to-earth style, using ‘real-life’ examples and ‘live’ tuition, this course builds on the practicalities of camera technique to equip you with the creativity and vision to see, capture and process compelling photographs time after time, whatever your camera or level of experience.


  • Beginners who want to create better photographs.
  • Intermediate photographers who want to refine their image-making and be more creative.
  • All photographers looking for inspiration and creativity.
  • Outdoor photographers interested in travel, landscape/cityscape, nature, sport, and wildlife photography.



I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

Charles Ewing

Fantastic course. Great photographer, teacher and storyteller!