Today marks the unveiling of the third One Photo Focus Forum (say that 3 times fast), in which once a month, a volunteer army of photo-processing practitioners provides a wide range of interpretations of the same image. Stacy Fischer, who has already demonstrated her extraordinary skill in herding cats with the AfterBefore Friday Forum, has stepped up to the next level of difficulty, known as loading frogs into a wheelbarrow. In doing so, she has gathered all of the interpretations into a single place for your viewing pleasure. To see them all, click on her wheelbarrow.
Original Image by Loré Dombaj
This week’s image (shown above) was submitted by Loré Dombaj and I must admit I was impressed by the challenge facing me. Which is a nice way of saying I had no idea what to do. So, I applied a common problem solving technique known as procrastination. The Theory of Procrastination holds that the pressure of a short deadline will unleash one’s deeply buried creative power.
That didn’t work either. But here are the steps I took, all in Photoshop CC. First, I applied Robert Capa’s advice of getting closer and cropped off the top part of the image to concentrate on the section that was most interesting to me (image below). That one step changed the image from one that I liked to one that I liked a lot. All of a sudden, the image is dominated by a tightly composed scene with a repeating circular pattern. Plus, the dappled highlights are placed so perfectly that one is reminded of a painter who chooses where the light will be. The charming cherub is now rightfully the center of attention.
The principal objects in the photo (tables, cherub, and flower pot) all have a weathered, timeworn appearance that begged to be emphasized. I called up the Filter Gallery and selected “Poster Edges.” The screen capture is shown below. I adjusted the 3 sliders (red arrow) until I found the combination I liked and clicked OK.
Photoshop CC Filter Gallery–Poster Edges
The image was looking good, but it lacked warmth (see above). A naked cherub wouldn’t be smiling if it was a cold day. We should improve his mood with a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. I set the Saturation to +60 (red arrow) and left the blend mode at normal (yellow arrow).
Photoshop CC Hue/Saturation Layer
Insert After Final Image
The Final Image below includes the use of an Unsharp Mask with the settings as follows: Amount: 131%, Threshold: 1.1 pixels, Pixels: 0. I found that a small change in either of the first two sliders made an important difference, although it is very hard to see at this size. In fact, the small size displayed here doesn’t do justice to the image; a lot of the subtlety captured by Loré disappears.
Final observations: It turns out that the results of the Filter Gallery steps will be quite different depending on the size of the image. The first time, I used the filter gallery before downsizing the image to 1,000 pixels wide and that is what you are seeing here. An experimental repeat with the image downsized to 1,000 before the application of the Poster Edges brought a different result, one that I felt was too coarse and not nearly as attractive. This is an excellent example of why Workflow (the specific sequence of post-processing actions) is important. The same actions, implemented in a different sequence, can produce different results.
At any rate, check out the other interpretations of this image at Stacy’s Visual Venturing site.