Before and After, Again

This is another entry in my occasional series on reprocessing photos. You can see the other posts here, here, and here. You can also read the original blog post about this image here.

Post-processing skills as well as taste develop over time. New tools come out or get updated.  Reviewing your image library for things you may want to change is a good idea.  Just don’t spend too much time on post processing – leave enough to go out and make new images too!

This is one of my favorite photographs and one that I’ve even sold, but re-looking at it I saw several things I thought I could make a little better.  Here’s the updated version after all my re-edits (which are described below):

Ponce Inlet light, sunset, bird (re-do)

After: Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird, Final Edit

I started over from the RAW file (you do save your RAW files, don’t you?) and re-did the basic adjustments in Lightroom (color balance, initial exposure adjustments).  Then I moved into Photoshop and cleaned up distracting elements (tire tracks, poles, the tip of the cloud just right of the lighthouse, …).  I then added a duplicate layer and ran that through Topaz Adjust using the “Spicify” preset to bring up structure, detail, and color saturation.  I don’t usually like applying this filter all over an image at 100%, so once back in Photoshop I added a hide all layer mask and partially painted in the  effect, using a higher opacity brush for the sky to let more of the filter show and a lower one for the rocks and ocean to mute the filter effect.  I then took the result  back to Lightroom for final tweaks to color balance, sharpening and a crop to remove part of the sky.  I thought that the colors of the sky and rocks were still a little off, so as one last tweak I added graduated filters to help adjust their tints.

For reference purposes, here’s the old edit of this photo:

Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird

Before: Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird, Initial Edit

Note:  you can click the two versions above to go to my Flickr account, where you can view larger versions.

And also for reference, I uploaded the original RAW file (with default development settings in Lightroom) below.

Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird, RAW Capture

Would I go to this much effort for every image?  No.  But sometimes a photo really appeals to me and I want to get the absolute best I can from it.  It helps that I enjoy working in Photoshop and learning about new techniques.

So what do you think?  Quite a few changes, some more subtle than others – but overall I like the new version better.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

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