One Photo Focus – September 2016

After-Before Friday is an event which allows photographers to share their processed images, and, if they choose, their post-processing steps. On the first Friday of the month, all participants have the opportunity to edit the same photo in the “One Photo Focus” challenge.

As soon as I opened up the image I knew that I wanted to create a warm sunset scene (this proved easier said than done, but I was happy with the result in the end).  These were my main steps, excluding a few basic tonal adjustments in Camera Raw and Lightroom:

1/ First off, I opened the image in Photoshop, duplicated the background layer, and converted it to a Smart Object.  I then applied a Camera Raw Filter to bring out some texture in the sky. Using highlight luminosity masks (Jimmy McIntyre has a great set of Photoshop actions which can be downloaded for free) I created a layer mask to ensure that only the sky was visible.


2/ Next I created a new blank layer, filled it with black, and applied a lens flare filter (Filter > Render > Lens Flare > Movie Prime) – this would become my sun.


3/ I applied a Camera Raw filter on top of that, to increase the warmth and brightness of the layer.  I changed the blend mode of the layer to screen, added a layer mask, and voilá; I had my sun. 3.jpg

4/ I used a duplicate layer with a different layer mask and a lower opacity to add the sunlight on the water.



5/ The scene was still missing some of the warmth that one would associate with a real sunset – so I added an orange Gradient adjustment layer, which I set to 17% opacity and colour blend mode.  Then I added a new layer, filled it with orange, and set to it soft light blend mode.  I added layer masks to both layers to concentrate the effect on the sky.


6/ I then added a curves adjustment layer to darken the image.


7/ I merged all the layers and applied a final Camera Raw Filter, where I used a Radial Filter to lighten the shadows around the boat.


8/ A couple touch ups using the Clone Stamp Tool, and I had my final image.

September 2016 One Photo Focus copy


I had fun editing this image – it really pushed the boundaries of my Photoshop skills!

I hope you enjoyed my edit, and gained some tips along the way. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the final image.


Project 365: Week 44

Sticking to the theme of still life images with a conceptual twist, this week I photographed origami figures. Now, spatial reasoning has never really been my thing, so I was quite proud when I managed to make not only a boat but a dragon out of paper (that is, until I looked back and realised I’d wasted hours of my life trying to master the art).

Monday, 26 October

Smooth sailing – this is a tiny boat (made out of about 1/3 of an A4 sheet of paper) which I then presticked to a globe.  My flash was bounced off a large wall behind the subject.  I converted it to black and white in Lightroom, and then added a slight blue split tone to the shadows.

Tuesday, 27 October

Under a cloud – this is actually a composite of three different images; one of the cup and boat, another of the ‘rain’ and ripples in the cup, and another of the ‘cloud’.  I wanted to create an obviously surreal image playing on the idea of a boat sailing in the rain.

Wednesday, 28 October

Within the pages of a book – this image, for me, represents the journeys which take place inside books.  The little boat was made out of newspaper, and stuck on with prestick.  I bounced my flash off a large wall to camera-right.

Thursday, 29 October

Norberta – Yes, my dragon was a bit shabby, but after over an hour of studying various YouTube videos, I wasn’t going to build it again.  I wanted to represent the idea of characters coming to life on the pages of a book.

Friday, 30 October

Paper airplane – it took me about twenty tries (and many lowered expectations) before I got this image, but in the end I was happy with it.  My mother held a paper aeroplane in the air in front of a moody patch of sky, my flash was shot (very harshly) from camera-left, and I narrowed my aperture until details could be seen in the clouds.

Saturday, 31 October

Jetplane –  this ended up being an image focusing solely on the origami itself, rather than being a sort of environmental portrait.  My flash was bounced off the wall to camera-right, creating some very dramatic shadows which I increased in Lightroom.

Enjoy the rest of your week! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my images!