One Photo Focus September 2016

After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve decided to participate again in the monthly One Photo Focus organised by Stacy at Visual Venturing.

This is her original image:


And here is my version:


I felt that the composition could be enhanced by focusing more tightly on the ship, which is obviously the main subject. Accordingly, I cropped out the left hand side of the original so that the bowsprit formed a strong diagonal from top left, while the masts and yardarms present clear horizontals and verticals.

Other than that, I took down the Luminescence of the Orange and Blue channels in order to make the superstructure of the ship stand out more and to add a little detail to the sky. Orange and blue work well together.

Finally, I boosted Clarity and Vibrance to add what Lightroom describes as ‘Punch’, and sharpened.


One Photo Focus June 2016

The original image for this month’s One Photo Focus was taken by David Croker and is a lovely shot of peaceful serenity; who doesn’t like the combination of sky, water and reflections?

David Croker original

The only problem with this original is that the air of tranquility is jarred somewhat by the electricity pylons running right across the horizon. I realise that it’s possible to remove such intrusions through various photo editing programs,including Photoshop, which I have myself, but it looks like a very painstaking exercise, particularly if (a) you haven’t done it before and (b) when there are not only wires but also the pylons to be erased.

Then I recalled that for a WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge some time ago, with the theme of ‘Dreamy‘, I had used a reflected image to get the dreamlike look that the assignment called for, and I thought it had worked quite well.

Accordingly, I adopted the same principle for this One Photo Focus, to produce this:

One Photo 0616

Here’s what I did:

  • Flipped the image horizontally
  • Cropped to remove the sky – and therefore the power pylons and cables. I also wanted to highlight that cloud on the right of the original image, so cropped out the whole of the left half
  • After that, it was simply a matter of adding a little ‘punch’ in Lightroom, and also adjusting colour Luminance to make the green and blue of the reflected boats stand out more.

I’m quite pleased with the dreamy, painting-y effect of this revised version

One Photo Focus June 2016

One Photo Focus: March 2016

This month’s One Photo Focus Challenge, provided by Nancy Merrill, had me thinking. Here is the original:


I felt that there were two possible approaches:

A matter of record

Shakespeare record

This first edit sees the image as a ‘record shot’ (absolutely no disparagement intended). Essentially, all this requires is a modicum of straightening and  a sympathetic crop to highlight the sign and put it into some context – so here we can see the structure of the theatre and the fact that it is located in a green (or at least non-urban) area.

Abstract form

Shakespeare abstract

It looks like this theatre has been built along the lines of Shakespeare’s Globe in London (which I’ve been fortunate enough to attend for quite a few performances over the years). The key architectural characteristic is undoubtedly the black and white ‘mock-Tudor’ effect, which is a worthy subject in itself. Consequently, I cropped down to the bottom left quadrant of the original image, flipped it a quarter-turn clockwise, tweaked for sharpness and added a little grain and a vignette to produce this almost abstract interplay of light and shade, straight and diagonal lines.

One Photo Focus March 2016

Before & After: Boat

I took this photograph of an upturned boat at Watson’s Bay, near Sydney. It was a bit of a snatched shot and while the subject is interesting, it’s a little frustrating because I didn’t capture the entire boat, cutting off the prow (at the bottom of the image) and the sides. Furthermore, the horizon (waterline) isn’t straight and the colours are rather bleached – partly because it’s a pretty weatherbeaten vessel in the first place and also because it was taken around noon – so I was probably on my way to lunch, which probably explains why it was a snatched shot.


Boat before


Boat after

I cropped out most of the boat, the shoreline and the surrounding sand, and also added a light Vignette. This brought the real interest, the bottom of the boat, and especially the ‘trident’ effect of the struts, properly to the fore.

This produced an almost abstract feel, which was reinforced largely by reducing the Luminance and modestly tweaking the Saturation of the key colours, blue and orange

ABFriday 19 February 2016





Before & After: Butterfly

Butterflies can make for great images, but they’re not the most co-operative of subjects: have you ever tried to get one to sign a model release form?

Last summer I spent a merry, if sometimes frustrating, couple of hours on a sunny afternoon trying to get some worthwhile photographs of the butterflies that were feasting on one of our buddleias. Obviously, I was using my longest lens, but as that\s only 200mm I couldn’t get as close as I might have wished.


Butterfly before

As it stands, this isn’t much of a photograph but there was the germ of something more interesting in there, although it needed a fair bit of post-processing to tease it out.


Butterfly after

The first step was to crop out most of the background. Once I’d focused in on the butterfly it seemed clear that rotating the image would make it more arresting and give a more pleasing composition. I also flipped it so that the butterfly was facing upwards.

After that, it was a matter of adjusting various sliders to give more ‘punch’ not only to the overall image but also the individual colours, where I altered Luminance rather than Hue. A final touch of Sharpening and there you have it.

ABFriday 12 February 2016

One Photo Focus: February 2016

The original image for this month’s One Photo Focus challenge was provided by Stacy at lensaddiction and is what I’d call a bit of a tester.


OPF Image for Feb JPG Full Size-3398


There’s a lot going on in the original image and not all of it sits comfortably together (a sailing ship and modern high-rise buildings, for a start).


After a lot of thought, I decided to crop in on the rigging and, in particular, the two human figures, which I placed on a Rule-of-Thirds point.

Having looked at the blown-up image, I felt that there wasn’t enough detail in the figures to command much attention so I went for the opposite extreme and effectively turned them into silhouettes by taking down all the sliders – Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks – to -100.

This also made the background sky more interesting and to compound that effect I used a Graduated Filter at the top to reduce the exposure of this part of the image. This not only darkened the clouds but also reduced the ‘blown-out’ area where the sun sits. I think the final result is quite dramatic.

One Photo Focus February 2016

Before & After: Cathedral of San Marco, Venice

Sometimes you can’t get exactly the shot you want and need to rely on post-processing to realise your original idea.



This was taken in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice and is of the side of the Cathedral. It’s always crowded there, so for every kind of reason it makes no sense to be packing a long zoom lens. I was interested in the detail of the recess in the centre of the image, but this was the closest that my 24-70mm zoom lens could get.



The first actions to take were to straighten the image and crop out all distractions – notably the scaffolding. It also allowed for an aesthetically attractive symmetry in the final image.

As can be seen from the shadows in the original image, the sun was shining very brightly and it was close to noon, so the whole image looks ‘bleached’. Fiddling with the overall exposure didn’t produce any helpful results, but taking down the Highlights, Shadows and Whites sliders brought out a lot more subtle detail in the stonework and also had some positive impact on the colours.

However, I resorted to the individual colour adjustments to reach this final version. I boosted the Saturation of the three principal colours – orange, yellow and blue – but by trial and error I found that a greater impact was made by adjusting the Luminance – increasing orange and yellow, reducing blue.

ABFriday 22 January 2016

Before & After: Petra

Petra is arguably one of the most photographed places on Earth (right up there with Venice) and I’ve posted a number of the pictures I took there on this blog. And here’s another, which I’ve used for this latest exercise in ‘before and after’.


Petra before

The original is a pretty bog-standatd shot of part of the famous al-Khazneh (Treasury) building which is the first thing you see when you enter Petra. As it stands it’s pretty ho-hum – the photo, not the Treasury – but I thought it might be possible to make something a little more arresting with some post-processing.


Petra after

The first thing to do was straighten the image. After that, I cropped out the grey rock on the left, to focus on the juxtaposition of the angular and circular features (which I thought contrasted well with each other).

The original image seemed to me to be a little over-exposed, so I adjusted for that in the whole image. A particular problem area was the dome on top of the circular feature. I brought out some additional detail in that by adding a graduated filter on the right hand side of the image – an innovation for me: I knew Lightroom offered such a thing but had never worked out how to use it. I got it eventually through trial and error.

After that, it was simply a matter of adding some Punch and Sharpening to give the image a bit more ‘presence’. Overall, I think the editing has made for an improvement.

ABFriday 15 January 2016

Before & After: Sunset

Sunsets can be highly dramatic subjects, but they can also be the devil’s own work to get right, because the sun itself is almost inevitably over-exposed and leaves everything else devoid of detail.


Sunset Before

This photograph was taken at dusk, looking over the giraffe enclosure of the nature reserve on Sir Bani Yas island. Capturing it was pretty much a case of point and click – the sun sets very quickly so close to the tropics. As it stands, it’s not a bad image, but I thought it would be interesting to see what could be done in the way of post-processing to improve it.


Sunset After

  • Although it works reasonably well with the sun slap bang in the middle of the picture, I cropped so as to put it on one of the classic ‘rule of thirds’ intersections.
  • In the process, this also eliminated much of the dark foreground, which didn’t contain anything of interest. It also brings to the fore the bare silhouetted branches that are the really interesting element of the image.
  • Hovering the magnifying glass in Lightroom’s Develop mode over the brightest part of the sun’s disc confirmed that it was completely blown out, with all three of the Red, Green and Blue readings at 100%, or as near as makes no difference. Moving the Whites slider all the way to -100 actually reduced this figure to around 75%, which is at least some improvement.
  • I also played around a bit with the Orange channel in the colour palette top provide a warmer overall cast.

By the way, did anybody else spot the bird sitting on the branch (at about 7 o’clock if the sun was a clockface)? I didn’t see it at all until I’d completed the editing.

ABFriday 8th January 2016

One Photo Focus: January 2016

For the January One Photo Focus we were given this image by Laura Macky of Laura Macky Photography

January One Photo Focus copy

It’s an excellent photograph as it stands: a well-composed image of an interesting subject. There seemed little to be gained from tweaking details like saturation; that would be more likely to detract than to enhance. So I decided to take just a part of the whole and turn it into something different.

The angle at which the boat is beached provided some interesting diagonals in the superstructure, so I cropped tightly into the subject itself. Although I like the colours in the original, I felt that it would also work well in black and white. A bit of work on the sliders brought out more detail in the peeling paintwork, giving it a more ‘weatherbeaten’ look.


January One Photo Focus