ABFriday Forum Week

AfterBeforeFriday Forum Week 7.

The AfterBefore Friday, launched and managed by Stacy Fischer of Visual Venturing gives readers an opportunity to exchange ideas about various post-processing techniques.  My submission for this week could be interpreted as a rescue attempt for a grossly underexposed image or an example of exposing for the highlights and processing for the shadows.

This image was taken last month at Les Invalides in Paris, best known as the burial site for many of France’s military heroes, including Napolean Bonaparte. It also houses the Musée de l’Armée and two other museums dealing with military topics.  None of that is shown in this image.  The throngs surrounding Napolean’s tomb and the spectacular altar behind it limited my photographic opportunities.

But off to the side, an unoccupied antechamber caught my interest.  The light coming through the blue stained glass window  was significantly brighter than anything else in the scene so getting a decent result would require some post-processing.  I remembered the ABFriday Forum and thought this could be a possible submission.   The “Before” image (shown just below) came out quite dark as expected, because the image was deliberately “underexposed” by 2 and 1/3 stops. (Nikon D800E with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 38mm; Exposure: 1/100th sec. @ f/5, ISO 400, EV =  -2.33)

ABFriday Before 01 Week 07 Portal 9381


RAW Image with no changes

Whether or not you like the final result, I would venture that this exercise does make a good case for the advantages of shooting in RAW.  After downloading, I made a number of changes in the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) converter. The adjustments were made in the following sequence:

Highlights reduced to -16 (to tone down the highlights in the window);

Shadows increased to +60 (to open up the deep shadows);

Clarity increased to +31 (about usual for me)

Vibrance increased to +51 (more than normal for me, but needed to bring up a golden tone in the dark stone walls surrounding the portal);

Saturation increased to +47 (I rarely use this slider but did so here for the same reason as the boost in Vibrance);

Overall exposure increased to +0.65 (this was done here rather than as a first step, because I felt I would have a more precise idea of what was needed);

Finally, I used an adjustment brush for exposure (set at -0.55) to eliminate the effect of the previous step on just the window. The result at this point is shown below.

ABFriday Before 02  week 07 Kent Portal 9381

The next phase involved Photoshop CC.  First, I used the Edit > Transform>Distort tool to eliminate some of the parallax effect.  It is not entirely gone, but no longer is very noticeable. Second, I selected the exterior section of arched wall surrounding the portal and lightened it with a layer adjustment (Curves, blend mode=luminosity).  Third, the floral design above the arch was selected and brightened with another layer adjustment (Curves, blend mode=normal).  Finally the edit->fill (content-aware) tool and the clone tool were used to remove the small black object in the lower left and also the rope and stand inside the antechamber.  The reason for removing the latter was to make the entrance seem more inviting.  The final result is shown below.

ABFriday After 01 Week 07 Portal Kent 9381

15 thoughts on “ABFriday Forum Week

  1. Thanks very much for the comments. It was an interesting challenge. As for the location, Les Invalides is an enormous place, with a lot to see. Too much to cover in a single visit.


  2. Hi Robin, I love the warm wall with the cool windows, nice colors. Nice feel to the image. Do you know if one can bring a PSD file back into Adobe Raw for some final tweaks? You can do it in Lightroom and Joe starts and finishes in Lightroom. I would like to keep my life simple and stay in ACR and PS. thanks, M

    Sent from my iPad



    • Thanks, Michele. I appreciate the comments. Yes, you can go back into ACR if you wish. Save the image as a TIFF file, then do a File->Open With and select the Camera Raw option. I haven’t tried it with a file that had adjustment layers, but if it balks with that you could flatten the file and then run it back into ACR. I’ve read that some folks who want to do HDR with only one image have used Camera Raw to create two new copies of the image (one at plus 1 expsosure, one at minus 1), saved them all as TIFF files and then run all trhree through their HDR routine. Haven’t tried that myself, however. Good luck!


    • Thanks very much for your comments. I’m glad you found it interesting. I generally prefer to have easier scenes so the camera gets to do most of the work. But it is always good to experiment so one is ready when a problem arises.


  3. Pingback: After-Before Friday Week 7 | Visual Venturing

  4. Robin, I just love how the blue light spills out onto the floor and the wall of the archway – what a beautiful shot! I am absolutely intrigued by the processes you took in editing. I’m getting the feeling that the adjustment layers in Photoshop, while similar to the selective editing tools in Lightroom (adjustment brush, graduated and radial filters), are much more powerful. As for the ability to clone and heal, LR5 has come a long way from LR4, but can not match the power of PS for detailed efforts.

    Your comment about rarely using the saturation slider struck a chord with me, as I will usually use the vibrance slider when adjusting color as well.

    I do have a question about the underexposure of your initial image – did you stop down so far to prevent blowing out the window? If I did that with my camera, the resulting noise when I opened up the shadows would be large. Perhaps it’s a function of you having a camera that can handle noise way better than my Nikon D90 😉

    Thanks for detailing your steps. I love the after image. Knowing how to use PS like you do, taking the shot was a great choice! Thanks, as always, for participating in the Forum. Seems it’s beginning to catch on 🙂


    • Thanks, Stacy for the comments. The blue light spilling out of the antechamber was what convinced me to try for the shot. Yes, the underexposure was deliberate. I took several images, checking the histogram and the “Blinkies” indicator after each one for clipping on the window. Once they disappeared, I could tell from the histogram that detail was still available in the dark areas. And thanks again for your hard work on this forum. I find the submissions very instructive, full of ideas that I had not run across before.


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