That is what I do the minute I feel that twinge of excitement when I visualize a future photograph. I think about what camera and lens I have on hand and what I can do. Sometimes I even think in black and white, strange brain! I think that is from studying Anzel Adams and using the Zone System. That's OK if you don't know what that is, that was the film days but you certainly can use those references now.
These images were taken on the Green River in Rhode Island, while paddling around in my kayak, with a Canon Rebel SL1 and lenses Canon EFS 24 mm and a Canon EF 75-300mm. Once I have captured the images I bring my equipment back to my studio and process them using Adobe Bridge, Light Room and Photoshop. Here is what I made, original file on the left and enhanced file on the right.
The minute I saw the grasses and the composition I knew that I could create an impressive image using post processing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. When I was thinking about the image from my kayak, I realized that I needed some paddle movement to make the grasses float in the direction that I wanted. Once I had that, I imagined the tools that I would use in Lightroom, specifically the dehaze, texture, clarity, and black & white tools. After working in Lightroom, I moved the image into Photoshop and did some fine tuning and cleanup.
Composing and Cropping
Another thing that crosses my mind when I am composing in camera is cropping. Sometimes you get more of the image than you would like and know that you will have to make changes in your computer. I processed the image below first in Lightroom, saved it as a working image in my selected folder (I always keep a master folder separately of camera raw images untouched) and then I moved it into Photoshop for cropping. These images are a good example of how cropping can enhance an image and make your message much stronger.
Changing the tones with Photoshop Tools
You also can see in the images above that I have toned down the background and lightened the bird just a bit using the dodge and burn tools. This moves the bird forward as a light object against the dark background. In addition, the cropping that I did along with changes made to tones in the fore and backgrounds creates many new directions for my eye to follow and an entirely different energy to the story. This is what I saw in my mind, visualized, as I was taking the shot. Sometimes, you might have to take several shots to get the perfect placement of the subject. You might have to change your position to accomplish that. In this case, I am in a kayak and can't do much. One exciting thing is that I am positioned well below what the normal eye level view would be and in fact the tide is low so that puts me in an unusually low angle for a more creative view.
Looking at the scenes above of foliage and water, notice that I enhanced the tones to create more of a direction from left to right. There is a rhythm that was in the scene in the light colored leaves that really enhanced the story. Here is where you can really see what the dehaze tool does, not only enhancing the leaves but look up in the right corner where the trees meet the sky. It was a very moist morning and that certainly distorted what I captured. Knowing that I had the dehaze tool to use in Lightroom gave me the confidence that I would achieve a stronger image than what my camera captured.
Tools in Lightroom and Photoshop
In these images you can see the tip of my kayak in the photograph. Paddling my kayak to keep me positioned and steady did not allow me to capture the image without the tip of my kayak included. I knew that I could remove the tip of the boat in Photoshop with the spot healing and healing brush tools. Both did a great job at imitating the color, texture and information just next to the spot that I removed. Before moving the image into Photoshop I used the Lightroom tools: dehaze, texture, clarity, saturation, vibrance, hightlights and vignetting.Then I moved the image into Photoshop, retouched out the kayak and used the dodge bush to lighten certain parts of the image to encourage the eye to move toward the head of the river. The dynamics of the image totally changed and that is what I visualized when I was taking the image.
Visualize your final image before you push the shutter and...
Select the right equipment (or the best thing that you have), and use your software in post processing to finalize what you planned for and then I would suggest experimenting to try new things. Always, save your work and create new folders that you can place the finished work in.
Then enjoy and share your finished image!