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Before-After : Norwegian beach

Did you ever happen to tell yourself “I like that photo, really. I loved the place, I like the angle I got to shoot, but… I don’t know, I wish it were more… dramatic“. Well that’s what I thought when developping this photo. I loved the hike on the wonderful beach of Bunes, in the Lofoten Islands, and I was glad to have thought of climbing up the stream that flows straight to the bleach ; but something was off.

I would have liked to shoot this place during the golden hour, but our return boat was scheduled, so I just went with it and “golden-hourized” it myself!

Bunesfjorden

I needed an evening sky, so I fetched a photo taken during the same trip and applied the technique I described in this tutorial.

Vesterøy

I took also care of the light reflections in the ocean and extended the sky patch to that area.

Changing the ambiance so that the photo would take place in the evening also meant that the light casted on the land would have to be modified likewise. I used a burn tool brush with a 10% exposure to soften the ray of light across the cliff and darken its edge.

The water flowing down the beach was also too bright, and now had to match the ocean colour.

I then took some time (a lot actually) to erase the many footsteps visible in the sand using the clone stamp tool.

And I finally added some saturation and contrast to make the ground pop a little bit.

Here we are! I think this photo has now much more character.

Before-After : Gojira

Metal concert photography requires speed, reaction, preparation, skill, and luck. Sometimes the shot we intended to take is a millisecond away from the shot we actually get. That’s how you get a mic stand in the way !

B_A-Gojira_before

This shot was taken during a Gojira concert in Paris in 2013. I like this photo, so I decided to give it a go and relocate the bassist a little bit.

I obviously need to do is find a way to remove the bassist’s head from behind the mic stand. To do this, I call to the rescue another photo, taken a few seconds later, in which the bassist’s position is correct.

B_A-Gojira_before_r

I open both photos and copy the left part of the second photo to paste it on my first one.

B_A-Gojira_bass_p1

I rotate and slightly enlarge the “band-aid layer” so that the mic stand appears aligned and about the same size as in the layer below. You can play with the layer opacity to check weather the alignment and general superposition are correct.

The mic stand is kind of a point of reference for the whole superposition : if this single well-delimited sharp object matches in size, orientation and perspective, chances are all the other still objects will, including the light beams. This will greatly ease the following blending.

B_A-Gojira_bass_p2

The tricky part comes here, as I have to seamlessly blend both layers into one.

I erase part of the upper part of the “band-aid layer” by using a very soft and very large brush.
The white back spot has not quite the same intensity nor the same orientation between the two layers. A brush too hard or too small would not ease the differences enough.

B_A-Gojira_bass_p3a

with large soft brush

B_A-Gojira_bass_p3b

with smaller harder brush

I then erase the lower part between the guitarist and the mic stand, but with a smaller and harder brush this time. The cut must be smooth although contained within the stand’s sustaining part, which kind of cuts this part of the image in halves.

B_A-Gojira_bass_p3c

The blue spots’ light coming through both parts is sufficiently consistent, so I consider the merging successful.

The balance between the two musicians was a bit changed though. The bassist is now too far on the left.
I increase the canevas size on the left so that the rest of the upper layer appears.

B_A-Gojira_bass_p4

Argh! The previous erasure propagated to the hidden parts too. It’s okay, I will just copy the missing part from the original image and paste it again!

B_A-Gojira_bass_p4b

I then blend this third layer into the second, keeping in mind not to brush over the second layer’s missing part.

B_A-Gojira_bass_p4c

Finally I can crop back to a 2:3 ratio with a better balance.

B_A-Gojira_after

Before-After : Scottish bridge

Here is a picture of Sligachan Bridge, on the Isle of Skye. The photo was taken during summer, on a warm sunny day. Unfortunately, the sun was a bit too high and -what did I expect- I wasn’t alone.

"Before"

The sun right above the camera generates lens flare. The light is too hard, and the bridge is dark because of the back-lighting.

I first remove most of the details that dispute the fact that I am alone in the scenery.  With the clone stamp tool, I remove the people behind the bridge, the car and the electric pole on the right.

B_A-ScottishBridge_p1b B_A-ScottishBridge_p1a

B_A-ScottishBridge_p2a B_A-ScottishBridge_p2b

I then reduce the lens flare using the techniques I described in another article.

B_A-ScottishBridge_p3a B_A-ScottishBridge_p3b

B_A-ScottishBridge_p4a B_A-ScottishBridge_p4b

Then I get started on the exposure levels.

B_A-ScottishBridge_layers

The bridge suffers a lot from back-lighting, so I increase its exposure using a Levels adjustment layer coupled to a layer mask of which I kept only the bridge itself.

I then simulate a graduated ND filter (which I did not own at the time) to decrease the sky exposure, too bright because of the sun orientation. I do this by coupling a Levels adjustment layer with a layer mask in which I painted a black gradient.

I am not quite pleased with the gradient-only solution, so I add another mask to reduce the exposure in the upper right corner.

Et voilà !