After Before Friday: July One Photo Focus

The After Before Friday Forum is hosted by Stacy from Visual Venturing, it features a twice monthly behind the scenes look at various editing processes. Featuring a gathering of photographers all keen to learn from each other, 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 month, Robin Kent from photographybykent has let us all “have a go” at his image of the Capitol building in Washington DC.

One Photo Focus July - Robin before
Image courtesy of Robin Kent

Its a lovely picture of a beautiful building, I love the symmetry in this image and the contrast of the lines on the buildings compared with the textures of the grass and the sky is just amazing! I think from the minute I saw this image, I wanted to make it monochrome, I had hoped it would bring out those lovely contrasts and textures. I have done all the black and white conversion in Lightroom and used the new graduated filter brush tool, before sending it to Photoshop to add a little effect at the end. If you’re interested in my processing steps, I will list them briefly, if not, then just skip to the after image.

  • Using lens correction, I made slight adjustments to the horizontal/vertical perspective to get the image more straight and each side the same size.
  • Then I cropped the picture to a more panoramic format to draw emphasis to the shape of the building and to the sky.
  • I reduced the highlight, increased the shadows, set the white and black points and increased contrast and clarity before I converted to black and white.
  • The grass came out very dark and the sky very light, so I adjusted the blues and greens in the HSL panel.
  • Then I added a graduated filter to darken the sky further and used the new tool with LR6, the brush tool in grad filter. This enabled me to darken the sky, but omit the building from the selection, very cool!
  • Then I used a series of dodging and burning selections using the adjustment brush to brighten and add highlights to parts of the clouds, to darken the trees and then selected the building and reduced exposure, increased whites, contrast and clarity.
  • Nearly finished, so I added a post crop vignette.
  • Looking at the image, it had a slight yellowy brown cast, so I went to the split toning panel to try to correct this with a very slight blue/yellow split weighted towards the blue shadows.
  • I added some grain to give more texture to the sky and used the tone curve to pull down some of the shadows and mid tones.

Robin July final-2

  • The (almost) final image was very sharp and contrasty, it was OK, but strained your eyes if you looked at it too much, I wanted to soften it slightly. For this I went along to Photoshop.
  • I wanted to create a sort of “glow” so I duplicated the background, and added a Gaussian blur to the duplicated layer and increased the contrast just in that layer using a clipping mask. Then I reduced the opacity of the blur layer to 12% to get the effect I wanted (I think this is called an Orton effect).

Robin July final

Click on any of the images to see a bigger version.

I hope you like my interpretation of Robin’s image, please go and check out the other versions at Stacy’s One Photo Focus.

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16 thoughts on “After Before Friday: July One Photo Focus

      1. You’re welcome Katie 🙂 Well, I like to get really out there with my edits as you know. It’s fun to push the envelope to see what comes up! I’ll look forward to see what you come up with next month!

  1. I agree with you, Katie, that the new LR brush tool just rocks! Thanks for the wonderful explanation of your LR process. Every step you made makes absolute sense to me, as does your thought process behind your choices. The conversion is beautiful and I love the pano crop. And thanks for explaining the steps in PS. Again, another great set of choices you made. Wonderful final image!

  2. Excellent job, Katie. The architecture in Washington, DC often looks better in B&W, but it isn’t always easy to do it well. The extra touches you employed made a big difference. Thanks also for the explanation of your steps to the final result. Very helpful.

    1. Thanks so much Robin, it was fun working on your image, it offered great scope. I’ve just started working on dodging and burning in digital, it’s been worthwhile learning it as it does seem to make quite a difference.

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