AB Friday: Capitol Building

Final Photo with Topaz Impressions Watercolor 4 and onOne Torn Paper Border

Final Photo with Topaz Impressions Watercolor 4 and onOne Torn Paper Border

Thanks to Stacy Fisher, sponsor for another month of After-Before Friday (ABFriday) and Robin Kent (Photography by Kent), who provided the picture! While other months had tough technical challenges to the photos, this month was hard because the photo was so nearly perfect already.
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So here’s the original photo. The people are minor, the building is straight (I checked) and the sky has a nice color. I really choked. I mean, what do you do with that?
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Original Photo

Original Photo

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I started with some minor adjustments in Lightroom, mostly to improve the white balance and take the yellow cast off the building. I think this is the U.S. Capitol Building and assumed the building was mostly white. I cloned out some of the foreground people so that when I started playing with the picture, they didn’t interfere with the appearance. That one is always a tough call; sometimes I think pictures look nicer without people and other times a scene looks too sterile.
I also moved the bottom up slightly to hide the fence at the right. I would have liked a little more green at the bottom, but the fence could not be easily cloned. I could have tried adding in some green at the bottom, but that’s a bit tricky and didn’t appeal to me. Here’s how it looked before I took it into Photoshop:
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Adjusted with Lightroom But Not Yet in Topaz

Adjusted with Lightroom But Not Yet in Topaz

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I improved the picture some more with Topaz Adjust HDR Dynamic Pop, at which point I realized the sky had a fair amount of noise. I used Topaz DeNoise Raw Strong to remove that. I liked how the detail came up – that building is beautiful – and it was good enough to finish. Using onOne, I put a border around it to finalize it. I thought this would be the finalist for this month.
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Close Second - Adjusted in Lightroom and Topaz, onOne Border

Close Second – Adjusted in Lightroom and Topaz, onOne Border

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However – and there’s always a however for me – what I wanted was to convert it to a pen and ink drawing. That so did not work, mostly because of the sky. I’m not sure if using DeNoise was the reason, but while the buildings looked great, the sky looked weird.  I could have tried cloning out the sky to a flat blue, but I don’t think it would have looked as good as I envisioned. Here’s the black and white version. I love how the building looks! If I wanted to play with it more, I could accentuate that and de-emphasize the sky.
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Robin Kent ABFriday July 2015 BW - Blog

Topaz Black & White Low Key 2

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This one happened by accident as I was looking for something that gave me that pen and ink look that I wanted. This is called Charcoal 1 from Topaz Impressions. It’s not bad and I’d share it on my blog:
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Photo with Topaz Impressions Charcoal 1

Photo with Topaz Impressions Charcoal 1

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In the course of playing with it though, I liked the looks of Topaz Impressions Watercolor 4. It removed detail from the building, but I liked the ethereal effect it gave. I used onOne for a torn paper border and that turned out to be my favorite. It was not what I was expecting to like the best, but it turned out pretty good.
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Final Photo with Topaz Impressions Watercolor 4 and onOne Torn Paper Border

Final Photo with Topaz Impressions Watercolor 4 and onOne Torn Paper Border

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Here are the panels showing the adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop, just in case you were interested!
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So what do you think? Which one did you like best? I always love to hear your vote and comments about the ABFriday photos.
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To see what I’ve done with other photographs, click here.
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To see what others did in this challenge, click here.

21 thoughts on “AB Friday: Capitol Building

  1. Beautiful! Even though I know almost nothing about photo editing, I loved seeing what you did. And what Phil said was exactly what I was thinking when I saw the B&W one. Very cool.

    • Thanks Nicole! It’s always nice to see you here. I’ve been reading what you’re up to, but my comments have gone way down as I’m trying to get organized on writing a book about nurturing creativity (the theme I did last fall).

  2. I really enjoyed this post. Several people in my photo club use Topaz and onOne. I don’t have either software program. Right now I am still working on learning and using Lightroom and Elements to the best of my ability. But you did some nice things here. I’m going to check out some of your others.

    • Thanks Phil! You’re right – that black & white does look like something ominous, which is what I was going for. It just didn’t work quite right.

  3. Excellent post, Nancy. The extended description was especially appreciated. Overall, I think I like your final choice the best. The B&W (Topaz Black & White Low Key 2) intrigued me for the dramatic feel of the building but, as you point out, the sky didn’t work. But I can see that that approach could be very effective in the right situation. Thanks for participating. It was fun to see all of the variations.

    • Thanks Kirsten! Every month that I do this, the votes are all over. I really like that as it helps give me perspective on what worked and what didn’t.

    • Thanks Tiny! I liked that darker BW also, but the sky would have to be changed for me to be happy with it. Or I should say, happier with it. I love it when you guys tell me what you liked. It really helps me figure out what worked and what didn’t.

    • Thanks Colleen! I’m not as partial to black and white, but I love experimenting with them. Heck, I just like experimenting in general. Thanks for the vote!

  4. Wow, these are ALL great edits, Nancy! I think my “least” favorite is the black and white, exactly because of the sky issue you point it. It’s just not a balanced photo to my eye, but you’re right that the Capitol stands out beautifully. The charcoal rendering is a lovely subtle effect. But your final with the watercolor effect is beautiful. Paired with that great border and cropped as you have, this is just a gorgeous result!

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