A lot of things have happened this year and all unforgettable. While it has been a difficult year for all us, I’ve been lucky enough to have some blessings. A memorable one for me has to be my photography. It has definitely been a very productive creative year for me. During this year, I have come into my own and I have been a lot more creative and little more sure with myself and this translated into my photography. For this reason, I wanted to share the editing process of one of my favourite images this year.
I captured this image while visiting Frankfurt last year over weekend. An unplanned visit that turned into a very fruitful one. This image has quickly become a personal favourite. What I’ve found with personal favourites is that not everybody is likely to agree with me but I don’t mind too much.
What attracted me to this architecture were the details that are in actual fact windows in recess. The building itself was rectangular but this classic shape did not stand out and did not appeal to me either. I walked around and took my time to find a composition that made the details stand out. While standing in front of the building, I was lucky enough to visualise the final image.
You would think that since I already knew the direction of my edit it would make it easier for me to start on the image once I got back to London. However, laziness and procrastination kicked in because I knew the it would take considerable amount of time. I finally got around to edit it this year.
My edits generally start in Lightroom. Although Lightroom can be used for editing as well, I mainly use it as a catalog. However I do make minor adjustments. In this case. the removal of chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration is a common problem when using wide angle lenses but it easily fixed in Lightroom. You will also notice that the SOC image has a blue tint, this is a colour cast from my filters. This can also be easily corrected in Lightroom but I don’t as my final image will be in black and white.
Once my basic adjustments are carried out, I import the image into Photoshop. The first stage in Photoshop is the creations of selections. Selections are a way to breakdown the image into smaller parts which will later allow me to apply individual adjustments to each of these selections.
They are different ways to create selections. To have a successful edit, the selections need to be as accurate as possible. Depending on the image, the selections methods that I use include Pen tool, Colour range, Luminosity masks etc. In this case, I used the pen tool because the details in this image are fairly simple.
The marching ants highlights the part of the images that have been selected. For this particular image, I had a total of 42 individual selections. Each of these selections will allow me to individually apply modifications to each of these parts.
Here is an example of what the selections look like. The parts in white are the areas selected and the parts in black are the unselected areas.
Here is what the entire subject selections looks like. Once this is done, the selection is inverted so that I can have the sky selected. This allows me to apply adjustments to the sky once I done with my main subject. This step is carried out with every single one of my images.
Once I done with my selections, I then make a copy of the image without the selections to begin my full edit. Working on the copy without the selections means that the file is smaller and easier on my computer. However, I keep the image with the selections open while editing as it is the only way to access them during edits. I then use Nik Efex to convert my image to a Neutral black and white file. I prefer to use Nik Efex to a Photoshop conversion as I prefer to start my edits on flat neutral black and white palette.
Over the years, I have learned many things different techniques to improve my editing skills in Photoshop. These are tools that I still use today. For this edit, I used the Gradient Tools at 1% opacity and the Curves tool.
At 1% opacity the changes applied are deliberate and gradual to achieve the desired effect. I used the Curve tool when I need to dramtically darken specific areas.
Once all the edit was completed, I was unhappy as the sky did not have any clouds hence no dynamic movements to it. I prefer to capture my images on moody days with moving clouds but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be this time. However, I lucky to have a balcony where I live so I have complied a file of long exposure clouds for such moments.
I then replaced the sky to add the depth that I wanted and then clicked the blacks a little to add a little washout effect to the final image. See below for the before and after.