ABFriday: Derelict Boat

Happy New Year! And what better way to start the year off than with After Before Friday, sponsored by Stacy Fischer at Visual Venturing. To see how other photographers interpreted this month’s photograph, click here.

This month’s selection came from Laura Macky, whose past participation encouraged many of us to up our game after seeing her imagination let loose. Laura is a fantastic photographer; I follow her on Facebook and also on her blog, Laura Macky Photography.

Laura’s picture looked pretty good to me without any adjustments:

Original Photo
Original Photo
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ABFriday – November 2015

Another month has gone by and it’s time again for the ABFriday One Photo Focus, sponsored by Stacy Fisher over at Visual Venturing. A number of us take the same picture and post process it with our own interpretation. It’s always fun to see what everyone does! This month’s entries can be found here and was provided by Helen Chen.

The original photo is on the left. I applied a few standard adjustments to improve clarity, contrast and exposure. I did some minor cloning of the inside doorway to get rid of the red object and some of the speckles in the upper half of the doorway. After some debate, I also cropped it down. The wall on the left was interesting, but I found it hard to figure out where I wanted to look! After that, the brick wall to the left was burned out and I used a masking brush to darken it down more. I also darkened the inside of the doorway. Since it was a bit junky, I felt a darker look made it more mysterious.

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ABFriday: Street Art

Welcome to another month of After-Before Friday, where participants take a photo and each renders their own interpretation of it. The other photos are hosted at Visual Venturing by Stacy Fischer. This month, Ben Rowe, of Aperture64, volunteered a photo of the Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, England. I encourage you to visit both blogs – Stacy’s to see what other people did (and it’s always a wide variety) and Ben, because he does such a superb job of explaining how he edited his version.

So here’s the original photo. The red marks are some things I cloned out to slightly declutter the picture. This included two benches, a sign, a small amount of roof, and a blip in the sky. I also did some pipes up the side of the building (just to the left of the center), but missed one in the middle of the tower, where the arrow is.

Original Photo Before Lightroom Adjustments; Red Shows What I Cloned Out
Original Photo Before Lightroom Adjustments; Red Shows What I Cloned Out

I lightly edited the photo in Lightroom and cropped it down to reduce the sky and grass. I felt the castle was better seen when it filled the frame and the Lightroom adjustments brought out the colors and perked up the picture.

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ABFriday: Stone, Water and Sky

It’s once again time for After-Before Friday, hosted as always by Stacy Fisher over at Visual Venturing. To see other pictures from ABFriday, click here.  It’s always fun to check and see the many variations that happen each month!

On the left is the original photo; on the right is how the photo looked after I enhanced it in Lightroom. The colors and textures have improved and there is more variation between the sky and water.

This was the finalist, using Topaz Glow “Whiskers and Fur 1”. Topaz Glow uses “energetic sparks of neon lights” (per their advertising) “to create beautiful and vibrant images”.

I’ve found it difficult to find anything I like when using it, so my challenge this month was to see if I couldn’t figure it out. It took some experimenting, but I finally found a look that after some adjustment, I thought showed off the textures and colors in a way that was pleasing. To finish it, I used a border called “antique” from onOne Software to give it a vintage look.

The finalist! This used Topaz Glow,
The finalist! This used Topaz Glow, “Whiskers and Fur 1”, with an antique border from onOne.

I didn’t clone out the people. On the other experiments, I thought it helped give perspective to the photo and they were clearly recognized as people. For the Topaz Glow, it’s harder to tell what they are and if I were to redo the picture, I’d try it with and without the people to see how it looked.

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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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After Before Photo June 2015: House

It’s once again the first Friday of the month, which means another round of One Photo Focus on After-Before Friday, sponsored by Stacy Fischer at Visual Venturing.

In honor of the one-year anniversary of ABFriday and the six-month anniversary of One Photo Focus, Stacy used one of her own photos to see how imaginative we could be. Below is the original photograph:

Original Photo
Original Photo

It’s not a bad photo, but there are some definite challenges between the sidewalk, fence post, other house, and the angle this was taken at. I tried to transform it so it didn’t angle quite so badly, but too much of the top got cut off. It was also hard getting that fence post out of there and leaving it look normal. So in the end, I cropped it down to show just the porch. I did some minor straightening so that the front post in the center was a true perpendicular when viewed.

Cropped But Not Adjusted Yet
Cropped But Not Adjusted Yet

There’s still a lot of clutter in the picture, which I found distracting. Topaz Simplify was my way around that, after I corrected for colors and exposure. I did a first round of corrections in Lightroom, but then used other Topaz filters to further improve the picture before using Topaz Simplify.

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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.

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Tree Creates Portal to a Fantasy World

The finalist in all the experimenting.
The finalist in all the experimenting.

It’s time once again for ABFriday – After & Before Friday, sponsored by Stacy Fisher at Visual Venturing. This month’s photo was submitted by a fellow blogger, Cee Neuner.  To see her interpretation, click here. Click here to see all the other interpretations over at Visual Venturing.

Here’s the original photo:

Original photo by Cee Neuner
Original photo by Cee Neuner

As you see, the house is a bit ugly and a lot cluttered. I found it pretty uninspiring except for that tree.  I’m sure is why Cee took that picture – that tree is fantastic. It reminded me of the Wizard of Oz, where the movie starts in black and white, and when Dorothy hits her head and starts her adventure, it all goes to beautiful technicolor. I needed to know WHAT was behind that door. Curious minds wanted to know or better yet, invent a new world.

In my defense, this is all Stacy Fisher and Laura Macky’s fault. Laura added a moon into the February challenge (here), which made Stacy reposition March’s cherub into Seattle (here).  That made me decide to try compositing on this photograph! My skill set for masking, layers, and composites was minimal, so I found a great course on lynda.com by Julieanne Kost called, “Introduction to Photo Compositing”. It helped me tremendously and I played it a number of times as I worked with this.
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To that end, I experimented repeatedly and my bloopers are below.
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My first try was to mask the background so that only the tree remained, then drop the tree into a different picture so that you looked through the the outline of the tree to see a doorway beyond it. Good idea, but nothing worked. My technique is poor; had I liked any of the pictures, I would have cleaned that up more.

I decided instead to leave the house in, but change the doorway. The clouds only wasn’t quite enough, so I made the whole doorway into a fantasy portal that was lined with flowers. The desaturated result was a close second to the winner. I liked the petunias around the doorway, but the shape of the flowers just wasn’t quite right for what I was trying to do. Had I liked these, I would have gone back to the masks on the tree and restored more of the foliage above the door so the line wasn’t quite so straight (which I changed in the final photo).

I finally hit on a good look, but it still took a while to get my technique down. I created masks for the doorway and windows, then using free transform, worked in an image from Colonial Williamsburg that showed a house with the long path leading up to it. I only had that one photo with the blue sky from that shoot, so I used it for the door and both windows, adjusting with free transform to change the appearance of the trees and clouds. This kept the coloring the same for the sky and trees, which were brilliantly colored that day.

I did some minor cloning on the front steps, adjusted brightness, and added a frame from onOne. It sounds easy, but it took me a good amount of time to get something that I liked. To create the mask, I used a brush with a straight edge on it. Later, my favorite boy toy showed me several other tools that would have made the masking go much faster, as well as how to copy over the mask layers from one picture to another.
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But I got it done and completed a goal I’d had of learning how to use masks and layers better. I certainly got that accomplished (thanks Cee!).

Interested in how I post processed other photos?  Click here to see more.

AB Friday: March 2015

Final Photo
Final Photo

It’s time again for the ABFriday One Photo Focus Challenge, in which a photograph is provided for readers to interpret with post-photo processing.  This month’s photo came from Loré Dombaj at Snow’s Fissures and Fractures.  To see how other photographers interpreted this picture (and they will be wildly different), click here.
The original started out like this:
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Original Photo
Original Photo

As is my usual, I spent some time with Loré’s picture to evaluate what I saw and wanted to emphasize in it (thanks to a fellow blogger, Emilio Pasquale, for pointing out that’s how I do my pictures).  The face of the cherub caught my attention and I decided that’s what my focus would be.  I did some adjustments in Lightroom, then used the radial filters to lighten up the plant on top of the cherub’s head and the cherub’s face.  I used another radial filter to darken the left bicep so it wasn’t so washed out.
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I then cloned out the sign that was partially hidden behind the tree and cropped the picture to a 1×1 to remove the extraneous tables and chairs on both sides.  By the way – I cloned out the sign the SECOND time I processed the picture, since I didn’t notice it the first time until I was done with all my adjustments, including those in Photoshop.  It was easier to go back and redo it than try to clone it out so late in the game.
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Below is how the radial filters, cloning and cropping were done.  #1 lightened up the entire plant, while #2 lightened up just the darkest part of the plant.  #3 lightened up the face, while #4 darkened the shoulder and upper arm.  #5 cloned out the sign, while #6 cropped the picture into a square.
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Detail of the radial filters and cloning done in Lightroom.

Here’s how it looked before going into Photoshop.  I’ve also shown the adjustments panel in Lightroom to show what got changed:
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In Photoshop, I applied several different filters to it – Topaz Clarity (Low Contrast and Color Pop 1), Topaz Adjust (Low Contrast and Black Rose), and a border from OnOne (Russell).  The Black Rose was an overall tint that adjusted the entire picture.  I normally don’t do that to my pictures, but in this case I liked how the colors popped out on the statue and tables, while de-emphasizing the plants.
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I adjusted brightness and exposure to lighten up the picture slightly, then put on a text layer for a watermark acknowledging the original photographer.  I tried a watermark in both the lower left and upper right corners, before settling on the upper right corner.  That’s why there are two text layers, one of which is turned off (the little eyeball is missing).
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March 1PF PS Adjustments Blog
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After saving this as a *.psd, I went back to Lightroom and exported it for posting on my blog.  This limits the size and resolution so my pictures take up less space and load faster when my blog posts are opened.  Normally I sharpen my pictures when exporting them, but in this case it over-emphasized the detail, which I felt distracted from the picture itself.
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I enjoyed trying out different things, experimenting with several different looks, and creating a beautiful picture.  And for your laughter and amusement, here are some bloopers:

Interested in how I post processed other photos?  Click here to see more.