Building After And Before

Photo after editing
Photo after editing

One of the fun things about blogging is making new friends and trying new things.  Stacy Fischer, over at Visual Venturing, presents a picture each month for post-processing interpretations for whoever would like to participate.  I did it last month (in this post here) and really enjoyed it.

Manal Ali shared such an interesting photo for this week!  Although the sky was a challenge, I wanted to preserve and highlight the bright colors in both the foreground and background of the photo.  This is the original:

Original photo submitted by Manal Ali
Original photo submitted by Manal Ali

Isn’t this picture just full of potential?  I can’t wait to see what appealed to the other photographers who are participating.

For me, I did the following:

  • Made my usual Lightroom changes to the highlights, shadows, contrast, etc..  This brought out the colors and details.
  • Using Photoshop, I corrected the keystoning so that the building on the right was straight up and down, as well as the post on the left side.
  • I experimented with several different crops before deciding to eliminate most of the sky and part of the left side as well, including the lamp post.  I thought this really focused the photo to the jumble of details and colors that I wanted highlighted.
  • I would have liked to clone out that branch hanging in front of the back building, but my cloning skills were not up to removing that without it being obvious.  It’s something to practice on more but I decided to leave it in than have it look messed up.
  • To further help the picture, I used Topaz Restyle to accentuate the grays, blacks, and greens.  Topaz Adjust was applied to bring up more detail and put a simple border around the picture.
  • I saved the picture as a *.psd and went back to Lightroom.
  • After looking at the picture, I decided it was a bit too dark.  I lightened it up and increased the contrast slightly.
  • My last step – as always – was to export the picture so that it loads as a smaller file and doesn’t slow down my post when it opens up.

Here are the two pictures, side by side for comparison:

It was fun playing with this.  There was so much in here; my pictures are not usually this busy and I enjoyed working with something so different.  The quote below was something I’d found a while back and I thought it perfectly expressed the ABFriday (After and Before):

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember whatJean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.- Jim Jarmusch
Have a good weekend!

ABFriday Photography Topaz Labs

dogear6 View All →

I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

42 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Nancy, I love the crop, and your reasoning for doing it. I don’t seem to think about things like that, “what’s the focus” or “what story do I want to tell”. I just go in and play with no plan in mind. I love the expanse of the sidewalk and street that you have highlighted and the clarity. With this photo and last month’s work on my trucks, I can honestly say yours will be one post I will be looking forward to month after month!

    • Thank you so much, Emilio, and thanks for your responses to my questions on your own blog post.

      I tend to use the same reasoning when I’m taking a picture. What do I see that attracted me so much? Did I get that when I clicked? If not, what do I see that didn’t get in my composition? It works for me, but I’ve also done like you where I start playing just to see what I can do and how it’s going to turn out. The cropping was like that. I knew what I wanted, but I think I cropped it 5 or 6 times before it showed what I was seeing.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • I’m glad you liked it. I tried several crops before figuring out what worked the best. I’d left in that far left post the first time, but it really distracted from the buildings in the back. Sometimes it’s just a matter of playing and playing and playing.

    • Thanks! It’s so much fun to see what all of us did. I appreciate you stopping by. I’m still working my way over to everyone – I’m visiting my daughter right now and as soon as she’s done with her workday, I’m off the computer. So it might have to be next week before I finish my visits.

  2. Bravo, Nancy! I love what you did with the crop! You kept all the fun, pertinent details and did so in a way vastly different from everyone else. And your processing steps render the image incredibly true to life, which I like immensely. Topaz seems an impressive suite of programs (but of course you need to know how to use them). Thanks so much for being a part of ABF/1PF! I love the things I learn from each of you.

    • Thank you Stacy – what a lovely compliment! It sure was different than everyone else’s, although as usual there’s a wide range of creativity in how we each interpret the picture.

      I love using Topaz. The presets make is much easier to try things out without investing a lot of time. Topaz also does a lot of webinars and I’ve watched a fair amount of them, which also helps. Nichole Paschal did one several years ago using a shot of hers at night that had snow and ice. She’d spent several days processing and correcting it, and in less than an hour, duplicated nearly the same look using Topaz. It certainly made me much enthusiastic about using Topaz when I saw how quickly she could do such gorgeous photos. Her own comment was that the photo was nearly 95% where the first one was in significantly less time and with a bit more tweaking, she could improve it the rest of the way.

      Remember you have 30 days free trial to see if you like it. And they run sales from time to time too. (see also tutorials the next button over, which are much shorter)

    • Thanks! I was surprised I was the only one to crop that way. We each have such a different take on our vision for the picture which makes it really fun to see.

    • It sure turned out different from yours, didn’t it? I saw your comment over at ABFriday and it’s just fun to try out these different pictures, then see what everyone else did too.

    • Thanks Phil – I”m glad you liked it! I’m also glad you enjoy when I explain the process. It makes those posts more technical, but as long as you’re enjoying it, I like doing it to give myself a reminder of the steps I took.

  3. Oh Nancy, I really enjoyed this post a great deal. You have come a long way in photo enhancement and you are shining in your originality! Keep up the awesome work!

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