I Wanted That Red Teeter-Totter

Welcome to the May Edition of After-Before Friday, hosted as usual by Stacy Fisher at Visual Venturing. It was again fun trying new things with my photo skills! Each month brings a new challenge and it’s great to see what others do with it for their interpretation.

This month’s photo was provided by Shane Francescut and looked like this:

Original Photo

Original Photo

Isn’t that a stinker? Yes, it’s a technical term. Highly, highly technical.

I wanted so badly to highlight that red teeter-totter. I positively fixated on it. It’s so red! It’s so there! Blah, blah – the point is that’s what I wanted. And I couldn’t get it to work. The red was just too jarring against the rest of the photo. At the same time, I didn’t want to crop it out.

In the end, I adjusted the photo in Lightroom, including some straightening, then took it into Photoshop. I used a Topaz Labs Black and White Filter called Cool II. Cool II gave it a steely gray appearance which really appealed to me, especially for the greenhouse and its glass.

I further adjusted the Cool II filter by boosting the blacks, dodging the tree leaves (to lighten the dark center somewhat), burning some light spots on the far left of the greenhouse (plus the building behind that side to darken up the spots that were too light), and lightening the red channel in color sensitivity so the teeter-totter wasn’t so dark.
Final Result

Final Result


The picture below was what I wanted. It works, but only sort of. I did a composite, with the teeter-totter on top of the buildings. I was trying to convey the contradiction of the playground to the high-rise buildings behind it. It seems so strange to have both in the same picture. I normally would not envision them together, although I know in many cities they are close together.

To do this, I created two virtual copies in Lightroom, cropped one for just the playground and one for the buildings. I brought them into Photoshop, then combined the layers together. I put the playground equipment on top of the buildings, set the opacity to 70% so you could see what was under it, and used a mode called “darken”. I simply played with the modes until I found one I liked best.

Mode Settings v2 Blog

As I worked played with this, the buildings were a bit too garish. So I duplicated that layer to convert it to black and white. I felt that worked much better. I did have to move the layers around (using transform – scale) to get the equipment positioned the way I wanted it over the buildings.

Composite Picture

Composite Picture

So what else failed? Trying it in black and white but coloring in the playground equipment.

Nope. Didn't work.

Okay, not great.

I also didn’t like this one. It’s a preset in Topaz Labs Black and White, called Milk Memories. I don’t like how the left side of the teeter-totter gets lost in the white vignette.

Okay, not great. I think the left side of the photo is too dim.

Okay, not great. I think the left side of the photo is too dim.

Lastly, here’s the original photo (left) and after I did some basic corrections in Lightroom (right):

So what do you think? Which one was your favorite?

Have a good weekend!

34 thoughts on “I Wanted That Red Teeter-Totter

  1. Clever composition with a little message. I like the building in the b/w with the red tetter-totter, but like you wish the left “red” was stronger/less orange so it had more definition and impact and the rest of the equipment color isn’t quite right. The building is cool – I’d have gotten frustrated and cropped the thing down to just the building – and lost the whole idea!
    You are so patient. Like the conductor or the symphony orchestra.

    • Thanks Phil! That’s a good observation that if I’d colored the teeter totter a little less orangey it might have been better. I didn’t think of that and it wouldn’t have been hard to do either.

      I’d given some real though to just cropping down to the building for the same reason that I wasn’t sure I wanted to take so much time on that picture. But it was fun trying all the different things and improving my skills more.

      Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment!

    • You’re not the only one that liked the basic editing best. I’d debated about using that as the favorite, but in the end it was just too busy for my tastes. But opinions are all over the board as to who likes what best. So all my ideas were pretty good after all!

  2. Nancy, I loved seeing all your iterations! Glad to know I wasn’t the only one ;) My favorite? At first I thought it was going to be the one straight out of LR. Clean, bright colors and just a nice scene. But the B&W with all the beautiful tones you pulled out is great work too. And then I saw the Milk Memories one and that just grabbed me. I can’t explain why. And it doesn’t bother me in the least that the left side of the teeter-totter is dim. It’s just a cool effect all the way round!

    Thanks, always, for participating in the forum!!

    • Thanks Stacy! While I didn’t flounder as badly this month as I did last month, it was surprising how many times it took to get it looking the way I wanted. And everyone’s liking something different, so those iterations weren’t all that bad after all!

      And thanks as always for coordinating this. It’s really enjoyble.

  3. MRY

    I liked your final result, but my favorite, was actually the black and white, but the teeter totter is in color. I really liked that one. I could see that as a photo for a story about a memory of that place – a memory about that teeter totter.

    • Thanks for the vote! Opinions have been all over the board, so my attempts were better than I thought.

      If you’d like that for a post of your own, let me know and I’ll send it to you to use. I think that’s a great idea for a post, but not one that appeals to me to do.

    • Did you notice in Twitter that I have a Maxine that follows me also (and I follow her). I have to really be careful which one of you I’m looking at. Too funny – that’s not a common name!

      • MRY

        It’s not! I wrote that blog post about my name in 31 days, when I needed a twitter name, I realized that I could spell it a different way and it would still sound the same (I honestly had never considered it before) I figured no one would have it, and no one did!

    • I went back and forth on that too. I finally decided it was too busy, which is why I went on to try the black & white. You’re right though about it looking good. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Thanks Tiny! The responses are all over the board, which I’m really enjoying. It makes me realize that my ideas for other attempts were pretty good after all.

  4. I didn’t see where could comment earlier. I probably was just on your home page and didn’t realize I was not on your post. Anyhow …. I really do like what you did with your edits. I agree with you, the selective color with the red didn’t work. I found that interesting. Your final black and white is brilliant.

    • Thanks Cee! Yeah, it was disappointing that the selective color didn’t work. One of my other commenters thought it was too red and if I’d brought it down more it might look better. It’s fun to try the different things though even when they don’t work. It’s the only way to learn.

  5. Hi, to be honest I like your edit straight out of lightroom, possibly with the shadow on the tree selectively lightened.
    Personally I thought Shane’s image was well exposed since he had got the sky, buildings and grass roughly right, the shadows just needed pushing post. Not much of a stinker IMHO.

    • It wasn’t much of a stinker if you used the composition as he did it. For me, it had too many elements in it and my eye wasn’t following it too well.

      You’re right that the edit straight out of Lightroom looked pretty good. I did lighten the shadow on the tree but not enough. I also darkened some of the burned out spots on the left of the greenhouse. I also had to pull down the yellows. I don’t know why, but there was too much of that in there.

      I haven’t made it over to your website either, but your imagination truly ran amok with this and it turned out great! I hope you gave some details of what you did.

      Thanks – as always – for the thoughtful comment. I appreciate your feedback. It always gives me something to think about.

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