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.



Chobe – Mini-Planets

My family and I recently went to the Ichingo Chobe River Lodge for a week; we stayed on the Namibian border and went on a cruise up the river every morning and evening.

I have so many decent photos from the trip that I decided to split the posts into categories (in conjunction with my blogging revolution to write shorter posts).  Before we left I read an article on 500px ISO about How To Turn Your Panorama Photos Into 360-Degree Little Planet Images; these images are the before and afters of two of my panoramas which successfully underwent the process. Out of the four or five panoramas which I tried, these were the only two which were able to blend seamlessly.


One Photo Focus – November 2015

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.  I skipped October’s image (while I was busy studying for my exams) but this month I decided to give it another go.

This month the photo was submitted by Helen Chen of HHC Blog:

I decided to create a halloween-themed image, with skulls, fog and spider webs.

  1. I opened the image up in Photoshop and reduced contrast in Camera Raw, specifically trying to remove the dappled highlights in an attempt to give the illusion that the photo was taken at night.

2. I added several skulls – which I had downloaded off the internet – using the Lighten blend mode. This means that only their lightest areas were shown (I found that this made the skulls look more authentic).

3. I added some ‘creeping mist’ by adding a new layer, clicking on Filter>Render>Clouds and hiding most of the layer behind a layer mask. For this layer I used the Screen blend mode.

4. I felt the inside of the doorway and the mist were in need of some texture, so I downloaded a cobwebs texture off the internet.

Cmd+t was used to fit it to inside the doorway and along the mist. The layer was blended using Lighten.

5. Inside CameraRaw, I converted the image to monochrome and increased the contrast and clarity.


6. I duplicated this layer, selected the corners (using the Elliptical Marquee Tool and then inverting the selection) and applied a layer mask to ensure that only the outer edge was visible.  Then I applied a Gaussian blur filter and a CameraRaw adjustment which darkened the visible areas; this resulted in a heavy, blurred vignette.

7. I added some final Lightroom adjustments.

Once again, the before vs the after:

I hope you enjoyed my edit!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the end result.

Dullstroom: Haunted Moon tutorial

As I promised ages ago, here is a tutorial on how I created this photo:


For the photo of the moon, I used: a Canon EOS 1100D, a manual 170-500mm lens, Manual, partial metering, ISO 800, 1/40th/sec, and f5.


For the photo of the tree, I used: a Canon EOS 1100D, an 18-55mm lens, Manual, partial metering, ISO 400, 1/640th/sec, and f5.6.


  1. Post-processing began with opening both photos as layers in Photoshop.
  2. To prepare it for the final image, I turned the moon into black and white, and used a filter to reduce noise.
  3. I then selected the moon, made a new layer out of the selection, and deleted the old layer.
  4. By clicking “Select – colour range” I selected the blues in the sky. I inverted the selection in order to select the tree and its branches, and made a new layer containing a copy of the tree.
  5.  I reordered the layers so that the tree-with-the-sky was at the bottom, the moon was in the middle, and the tree at the top (this means that the moon was between the sky and the tree).
  6. I used free transform (Ctrl/t) to change the size and position of the moon, until I was satisfied.
  7. Finally, I used adjustment layers to convert to black and white, create an infrared effect (by pushing the reds) and increase contrast using curves.