Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

My favorite!

My favorite!

One of the things I enjoy is working with difficult photos to process them and turn into something pretty.  I also try different things and thought I’d let you see my process.

Here’s the original photo, straight from the camera, of a bay window at night in Charleston, South Carolina:

Straight out of the camera.  Not much to it. . . yet.

Straight out of the camera. Not much to it. . . yet.

The lamp is overly bright (i.e., blown out), so I went with one of the darker photos in the bracketed series (bracketing is where I set my camera to take multiple shots, one at the right setting, one darker, and one lighter).  The lamp is still blown out here, but maybe I can do something with it.

I straightened the picture vertically, using the corner of the window that’s in the middle.  Unfortunately, my pictures usually need to be straightened out.  Because of that, I try to leave enough space around them so when I straighten them in Lightroom, they still look good.  Lightroom has some awesome tools to help with straightening out photos, so it’s not just me that takes them crooked!

After that, I put the picture into Photoshop to remove the excess noise and correct the skew on the left side of the photo.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite enough room on the left, so the top corner is slightly clipped.

The noise (or grain from using a high ISO) is still there, but far less.  I could have removed more of it, but I didn’t like how the photo looked.  I went with just taming it down.

Then I started playing!  I tried to fix the blown out light with Topaz Star Effects, but couldn’t make up my mind which one I liked the best.  I thought the sun flare (on the left) covered it up the best, but the jewel star effect was interesting too.

I then played with Topaz Adjustments on the sun flared lamp and Topaz Black and White with the lamp that had the jewel star effect.  The results are below:

Some specific notes to myself.  I would likely redo this photo if I wanted to use it for something.  I’d try to find a photo that was a little further back, so that when I fixed the skew on the left, the top corner stayed in the picture.  I’d also like more space around the entire picture.  This is cropped closer than I like, but I didn’t figure that out until after I’d done all these adjustments.

When I DeNoised the photo, I wasn’t paying close enough attention (hey, it was late!).  I chose the DeNoise for jpg, but this picture was taken in camera raw.  Oops.  It still looks much improved, so that mistake might not have mattered that much.

Although I intended this week’s challenge to be a selection of photos that I’ve taken after dark, it didn’t work out that way.  But I had fun working on this photo and seeing what I could do to improve it.  The more I experiment, the faster I get at doing this.  Plus it’s really fun to just try out different things with my photography!

To see what others did with this challenge, click here.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.