Back in middle school, I had the good fortune to have Mr. Goeler as my English teacher in both 6th and 8th grades. Besides having Yousef Karsh’s iconic portrait of Ernest Hemingway hanging in the room, Mr. Goeler cultivated in his students a great love of language itself…the sound and texture of pinpoint words being a source of aesthetic enjoyment. There was nothing we loved better than learning a new word and then using against each other in the maximum possible and hopefully subversive ways. One of those words was “fickle”.
I am fickle. Fickle means wantonly (another of those words) oscillating between positions or preferences; lacking loyalty. When I first started seriously learning photoediting, I loved me a good fill light slider, and largely used this as my tool of choice to open up dark areas of images. Then, somewhere along the way, I started playing more with the Brightness slider, and even though thee two do not do the same thing, I soon found myself in the routine of using Brightness to lighten things up, and Fill Light became somewhat neglected.
Now I am swinging back. Have swung back. I’m trying not to touch my Brightness slider until I make a print, at which time I add about +20 Brightness to make the print as bright as what I see on the screen. But for editing the actual image? It’s all a balance of Fill Light and Blacks. In the above image, I love the way the Fill Light brings out the texture on what would be otherwise strongly back-lit tree trunks. The light in this shot is not enough to carry the entire image, and I think that extra bit of texture adds enough to it to make it not half bad.
In several months, I’ll probably be back to talk about how wonderful the Brightness slider is, and why only chumps and chimps use the Fill Light slider. I’ll also take your recommendations for any other possible sliders of fickle derision. But White Castle is off the table.