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!