OnePhotoFocus-March 6, 2015

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.

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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.

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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.

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Photoshop CC Filter Gallery–Poster Edges

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAResult of Poster Edges Adjustment

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).

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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.

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Voila!

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.

37 thoughts on “OnePhotoFocus-March 6, 2015

  1. Pingback: ABFriday Week 39: March One Photo Focus | Visual Venturing

  2. Hi Robin.  I just looked at the One Photo Focus that I received from you and found it very interesting to see how different people process the same image.  Yours is fantastic, I love the way you bring the cracks out, and I also like the composition of the person that changed it to B/W.  You obviously do NOT need advice from an amateur, but I think I would choose your photo with the left 1/4 cropped off, removing the cherub focus from the center.  Some have cropped off the other side, but that removes too many of the tabletop arcs which are highly interesting repetition. Jim told me you had tried to get tickets to his polar lecture and it was sold out.  What a surprise, this early.  I am guessing if there is enough interest they will change the venue and more people can sign up (that happened before).  If we hear anything we’ll let you know, however if you are on their waiting list you will probably know before we do.   Robin, if you are interested I could recommend you as a judge for the Prince William County Fair (I think I told you I usually serve as a judge for their Junior Photography).  Quite frankly, I think it’s beneath your level to come out on a hot day in August in an un-air conditioned barn and look through an assortment of photos that range from simply awful to some nice surprises, and there is no remuneration.  Still, if you have any interest, it would be a great advantage to the Fair to have a professional of your caliber.  I know who invites the judges and I could pass your info along if you would like to be on their list.  Their needs probably vary with how many judges from the prior year are invited to return.  I recommended a couple of Smithsonian photographers who agreed to serve and then backed out (I don’t know why), so don’t sign up unless you think you would like to do it.   Regards,   Cheryl Z.

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    • Hi, Cheryl:
      Thanks very much for your feedback. As you saw from Stacy’s site, there are many ways to interpret this image. I think I like your idea of a 1/4 crop on the left better than a full, tight crop on the cherub for the same reasons you described so I’m sure that approach would be a good one as well.
      Yes, we didn’t expect the session to be sold out this soon either, it’s never happened to a Smithsonian presentation we’ve attended before, so it sounds like Jim has an enthusiastic fan base. Anyway, we’re on the waiting list and we hope they are successful in locating a larger venue.
      It’s very kind of you to suggest me as a judge for the photography event at the Fair but I’ve learned from a few previous experiences that the role is not easy for someone who hasn’t had some basic training in being a judge. So it’s probably best that I decline, even though I am very flattered.

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  3. The crop is very different to the others who have taken part and I really like it, moving the focus from the plant and statue to the statue and the tables. The artistic filters have also brought out the detail nicely. Great work Robin.

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  4. Hey Robin, like you I was baffled by how to approach this image and just let it sit for a while until the Saturday before it was due LOL I like your added emphasis to the stonework marble patterns in this version 🙂

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  5. I think, after reading your post, the important lesson is is not what you did but why you did it. I love reading your reasoning behind each decision and that makes your post that much interesting. I like the tighter crop. And pretty much everything else.

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    • Hi, emilio. Thanks for visiting and for the comments. I’m glad the explanations were interesting. I am finding that writing them is creating some useful references that I can come back to.

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    • Thanks very much for those very nice words. I really appreciate the feedback. And yes, I’m glad I was here for this one although, as I mentioned in the post, I was not sure what I was going to do at first;-) The image certainly inspired a lot of interesting interpretations which means you made an excellent choice for the group.

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  6. Okay, Robin, your post just made me laugh out loud 😀 I’m not certain how everyone will take to being compared to frogs, but the visual is hysterical! Anyway, interesting that you cropped from the top – a different approach but one that works well. I also like how the filter brings out all the nooks and crannies (aka textures) in the image. And your point about workflow is a great one. I’ve recently learned that (at least with Nik software), it’s much better to employ noise reduction after camera raw processing but before any selective edits, especially with HDR. So thanks for pointing out the cropping/filter workflow for PS. Very helpful to know!

    Now, back to my wheelbarrow 😀

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    • Thanks, Stacy: Glad you enjoyed the post. The importance of workflow was made apparent to me when I took a 3-day printing class at the ICP in New York. Before that, I didn’t give a lot of thought to it. But it does make a difference as this little experiment illustrated. Anyway, thanks again for all your hard work in keeping us all in the wheelbarrow and moving in a generally useful direction.

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      • I had two workflow issues also with this one. I didn’t see the sign behind the tree until I was nearly done and it just didn’t clone right after all the changes. So I had to go back to the beginning, clone out the sign and then redo all my processing.

        Also, when I export for my blog, I routinely apply a sharpening at standard. For whatever reason, it brought out a bit too much texture. I haven’t had that happen before, but I redid the export without that and liked the result much better.

        I hadn’t heard of loading frogs in a wheelbarrow before, but the one I’ve always used is that it’s like herding cats. Good luck with that too, but Stacy does a great job of it!

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  7. Robin – I loved the result of what you did – between bringing out the textures and the crop! I don’t generally crop like that where something runs off the edge, but it really worked here. As a result, the textures on the tables really contribute to the picture and moving my eye around it.

    Nancy

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    • Oh and I did the procrastination one last month. I started it at 11:30 pm of the day it was due. At midnight, I e-mailed Stacy for ten more minutes and she wrote back saying she was wondering where my submission was at! Still, in 40 minutes I did pretty good. I’m not sure I’d have been a lot happier if I did take two days to do it. However, I did not repeat that again this month. I gave it to Stacy with several days to spare!

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      • Thanks, Nancy for both comments. Your story about the midnight call to the Warden for a 10-minute reprieve cracked me up. Reminds me of some long-ago academic episodes that didn’t go as well. I missed last month (out of the country) but I very much liked your submission this time around.

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      • Stacy was very gracious about it, but she does this as a hobby and I made sure to not abuse it again. She does not need to be chasing me down!

        And thanks for the compliment.

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