AfterBefore Friday Forum–Week 50

The philosophy of the After-Before Friday Forum is to discuss how to take an image you’ve captured and change it into the image you want it to be.  Usually, the approach is to make the changes during “post-processing” where the original image is optimized using Lightroom, Photoshop, or some other software program(s).  But there are no rules, so this post will have a new wrinkle—how to improve the original image by evaluating your results in the field and making some significant changes on the scene before you get anywhere near a computer.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 50 Before

 “Before” Image

The first image of this scene (Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota) is shown above.  It is what I call a “Parking Lot Shot.”  I saw the scene, liked the leading line of the path up the hill as it curved around the tree on the hill, and stopped the car to take the shot.  But I wasn’t thrilled with the result.  There was something missing.  The empty sky looked….well, empty.  Behind me was a path up another hill that would give a different angle so I walked up that hill and realized that there was a totally different scene waiting to be captured.  I took the shot and liked what I saw much better.  A little more work would be needed in Photoshop, but this one seemed to have more promise.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 50 Before 02

2nd  Image, from the Hillside Above

On returning home, the first step was to give a small boost to the overall contrast, and I used a Curves Adjustment Layer.  I chose the Linear Contrast preset (red arrow), left the Blend mode on the default setting of “Normal” (yellow arrow) and the Opacity at 100%  (green arrow).  The screen capture below shows the settings.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 50 Before 02A

Adding a Curves Adjustment Layer

Next, it seemed that the greens needed a little punch to restore the look of what I saw that afternoon so a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used, with the colors set to “Green” (green arrow), the Saturation to +42 (yellow arrow), the Blend mode on the default setting of “Normal,” and the Opacity at 100%.  The screen capture below shows the Hue/Saturation settings.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week27 Before 03A

 Adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

The mountains and sky in the background were too light, and a gradient filter effect was the logical way to go.  I created a new layer, selected a gradient (foreground to transparent), and dragged the mouse down to the large tree (red arrow). I have promised in the past to do a more detailed discussion on the gradient tool, and I still intend to do so.  But not today.  I chose “Soft Light” as the Blend Mode (yellow arrow) and left the Opacity at 100%.  The settings are shown below.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 50 Before 04A

Using the Gradient Tool

But the sky at the very top edge still was a bit too bright.  So the Gradient Tool was deployed one more time.  But only with a slight touch.  The mouse was dragged down a very short distance, the Blend Mode was “Soft Light” again, but the Opacity was cut back to 80%.  The final result is the “After” image for this week and is shown below.  The differences from the original “2nd shot” are small, but the difference between the first and second locations is pretty substantial.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 50 After

So, it often is a good idea to evaluate initial results in the field and make some adjustments in the point of view rather than passing the buck to Photoshop right away. Or, as I like to say….

Keep Shooting…..

Check out the submissions of the other participants this week.  There is always something interesting over there from some very talented photographers. You can find them by clicking here.

26 thoughts on “AfterBefore Friday Forum–Week 50

  1. Pingback: ABFriday Week 50/June One Photo Focus Reveal | Visual Venturing

  2. Ha! You fooled me, Robin. Here I thought you were going to do something sneaky and transform the second shot somehow into the first 🙂 What a wonderful illustration of the rewards of “moving one’s feet”! As you say, the changes you made were subtle, but make a world of difference. Unbelievable shots. Where was this??


    • Thanks, Stacy. Nope, unfortunately I couldn’t find the Photoshop tool that emulates a drone flight, but I bet Adobe will have one soon The images were taken in mid-June a few years ago on a month-long road trip to the northwest Pacific coast. We were in Medora, ND and the images are from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Ironic that last week’s images were taken from Theodore Roosevelt Island on the Potomac River.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The first shot is a mystic story, the second one a wonderful view.
    Both has its worth. I like the first one, but I would work on it,too 🙂


    • Thanks very much for the comments and for visiting. I see your point about the first image, and I did some additional editing on it (not included in the post). But climbing the hill to get a different view reinforced for me the importance of continuing to look at a scene for alternate approaches.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You fooled me too! I thought you were going to make a composite with the first image to create the second image. But you are absolutely right that moving, looking behind you, working the shot, does make a big difference. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Yes, a composite would be a neat trick, but I often have to remind myself to stop and think about a totally different approach. It can be especially hard when you think you have a really good vantage point to start with.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like your take on this, Robin 😉 The second point of view gives us an idea of the scale and shows the wonderful landscape behind, I love the soft light on the hills, just beautiful! I also like the minimal composition of the first image, they are very different shots. Thanks for breaking the rules for us! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have read so often about not settling for that first shot but moving around- different angles, closer, further away. This really drives that home. When I first saw your images on Stacy’s post I couldn’t figure out what you had done. Flipped the shot? Duplicated the grassy texture to get further away and then added the background? Not once did I think, “Ah, she moved her feet”! Such is the age we- I- live in! Beautiful work!

    Liked by 1 person

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