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Open Locations

Open images are usually simpler and less distracting (though not always). There is a blurry background (or not so blurry with a landscape photo!), and probably some ground which is blurry from the depth of field. We can assume that the light is coming from everywhere/above, and is falling evenly from the sky down onto the ground. 

“Open” images may mean there is visual interest in some other way – in the light, the sky, the landscape, or with the dog. It does NOT mean the image has to be boring! But it does mean that we probably need “something else” to support the image and make it worthwhile, whether that’s snow and interesting light in the background, some kind of action, water or twilight colours, a cute puppy with a toy, an intense expression and interesting light, or a silly dog holding a leaf… something else has to help “hold the image up.”. 

When it comes to editing these types of images, our options are a little more limited in terms of getting fancy. Because the space is open, there is nothing blocking/filtering/shaping the light – in essence, it’s just falling straight down on the dog from the sky. If we try and create the appearance of light as a spotlight, coming in from the side, or apply strong vignette-type effects, particularly on the ground, it is very obvious that we’ve done so. 

We can shape the light tones of the background (which you’ll see in the first four images below  especially) to help frame or close in the dog within the image, but we need to be careful how much of that shading is also on the ground, as there is nothing that would create areas of light or shadow there – the image is “open”.

Have a look at the thumbnails first. As you do, see if you can see the editing of light and dark. After you’ve done the same with the “closed locations” come back here and look again. 

I’m making a point of this as a lot of my students when they first start learning how i work and how I edit, tend to over-darken the edges of images in open locations, or create strong spotlight effects in locations where the light is just going to be falling to the ground everywhere.

Finding This Kind of Location

Pretty simple really: any kind of open space – beach, snow, water, rocks, landscape, etc., field, or road/wide path will do it. Even a log, if you only use the top part of the log, since you won’t be able to shadow/shade the lower part of it. For headshots, simply getting close with no surrounding foliage will give you this “open” photo.