After Before Friday: Week 41

The After Before Friday Forum is hosted by Stacy from Visual Venturing, it features a weekly behind the scenes look at various editing processes. Featuring a gathering of photographers all keen to learn from each other, each week we post an image before and after  editing. If you want to find out more, or just visit and look at the images, click on this link.

This week, I have a photo taken a couple of years back when we had a family trip down to London. My other half knows London way better than I do and so he made sure that we got off the tube at Westminster station, this is the view that you get when you walk up the steps from the station. Wow! we weren’t disappointed. Of course it looks much better in “real life”, it’s hard to show the scale and grandeur in a photo, but hey, thats going to be my mission in this post! Since 2012 (the Diamond Jubilee year) it is officially known as Elizabeth Tower, but it is more popularly known as Big Ben (the nickname for the great bell of the clock inside the tower).

St Stephen's tower - before


My processing steps are as follows..

  • Firstly, I altered the highlights to -100 and the shadows to +100, then adjusted the clipping to bring in the black and white points, this creates a sort of pseudo HDR look, then increased the clarity and contrast.
  • To get a dark look, I decreased the vibrance and increased the saturation and reduced the exposure.
  • Then to accentuate the sort of twilight feel I was getting (the time of day not the film!) using split toning, I toned the shadows a yellow/orange and the highlight a blue/purple.
  • Then I cropped the image very slightly to neaten the outer frame and used the perspective rotate to change the angle to one I preferred.
  • I added a graduates filter to the top left corner and decreased the shadows to darken the top of the shelter over the pavement.
  • I was unhappy with the top of the tower touching the shelter so I used the spot removal tool to create some space between the two.
  • Lastly I added a post crop vignette with reduced roundness to frame the photo and draw attention to the tower.

I was not really aiming for a realistic looking effect, although I suppose it could look like this in stormlight. I was hoping to capture the essence of this dramatic, incredible building.

St Stephen's tower-after


I have also used this week to experiment with making my own Lightroom preset. It is one of those things that you see all the photography professionals use and they are everywhere on the web, but they are still incredibly easy to use. I clicked on the preset + and just made sure that all the values I wanted to copy were ticked. Then I used it to experiment on other images.

Screenshot 2015-03-18 11.32.53

I had fun, so I’ll be making some more of these!

Comments and feedback are welcome.

Please have a look at the other AfterBefore images on Visual Venturing where Stacy will also be revealing the next image for the One Photo Focus post.



22 thoughts on “After Before Friday: Week 41

  1. There is a twilight feel to your new image, Katie. I think I would have tried to paint out that upper left corner though as it crowds the image in my opinion … although perhaps it is your brolly and is part of the mood and remembrance of your image. 😉

    1. Thanks for your comment Lynne. I know what you mean about the top left corner. Its a cover over the pavement outside the station. There was no way of getting it out of the shot without getting run over (by cars or people!) and I don’t think I could edit it out in Lightroom so I have tried to darken it out and make it a feature of the picture. Perhaps its a good excuse to go back to the Old Smoke and try again!

      1. It’s a good enough excuse for me 🙂 I find the plain old Paint program that comes with microsoft can be useful in getting rid of wanted elements. But, I like your reasoning better – heading back to London for another shot 😉

  2. I like that you have been experimenting with presets, it is a really great way to save editing choices that you think will work well with other images.
    I like the tone and feeling you have conveyed with this image. I hope that you will revisit the image and remove the canopy, it is easy for me to say not quite so easy to do.

  3. You did an excellent piece of work with this image. I really like the dramatic feel of the final version. Like several others who have commented, it would be nice to get the canopy “disappeared.” But the image will still be there when you take up Photoshop.

  4. great work Katie, I like that you are starting to create your own presets, something I still need to learn how to do, then of course naming them so I know what they are is a hurdle not to be taken lightly!! great work Katie thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Thanks Janice, I think that creating the presets will possibly be less complicated than organising and naming them so I remember what they did in the first place!

  5. you got the drama you were going for – and your photo edit really makes the ordinate design and feel of the brick/stone stand out – powerful is a word that comes to mind – hmmmm

  6. Wow, wow, wow, Katie! LOVE the transformation you have created. And your explanation was easy to follow and understand. You’ve certainly accomplished your goal of paying homage to this London icon! And good for you for creating your own presets 😀. As you noted, it’s very easy to do and it can be fun to see how they work on different photos. It seems to have worked beautifully on your second image as well!

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