Welcome to another After-Before Friday post. By request, I am featuring the photo of the iron gate that I submitted to the last Monochrome Madness Challenge. Since the “after” photo was already highlighted in the MM post, this week I’m starting out with my “before” picture. Before I discuss the process, though, I’ll share a bit of background about the picture.
I came across this gate while wandering the beautiful streets of Georgetown, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., filled with quaint 18th-century row houses, many of them sites of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. My eye is inexplicably drawn to wrought iron, and this neighborhood offers a smorgasbord. Fences, lamps, signs, architectural details, I love it all. This gate, combined with the weathered red brick and climbing ivy, provided a beautiful tableau of shapes, textures, and colors just perfect for a great photo. And so I shot.
Bad news: Over-exposure. For some reason I had set my ISO to 3200 (don’t ask me why – I just forgot to check!). Good news: Lightroom.
- Cropped the photo to provide greater focus on the gate’s scrollwork.
- Decreased the exposure to recapture the midtones and reduce the overall brightness of the photo.
- Increased the contrast to better define the areas of light and dark and give the photo a bit more “pop.”
- Set the highlight slider to -60 to eliminate the white clipping in the gate’s finial and to bring back the detail.
- Set shadows to -38 to recapture the lower midtones.
- Set whites to +21 and blacks to -15 to capture the full tonal range.
- Used an adjustment brush to selectively decrease the exposure of remaining hot spots on portions of the gate.
Note: The whites slider helps to refine the very lightest tones. To preserve detail, I aim to have the whitest tones just inside the edge of the histogram. The black slider refines the blackest tones in the image. At a minimum, I aim for just a bit of black clipping. I will be heavier with either of the sliders, though, if there is nothing meaningful in the clipped areas.
- Applied a bit of sharpening.
- Used the noise reduction sliders to help offset the high ISO setting:
- Set the color slider to 25 to remove the little bit of color in the noise.
- Set the luminance slider to 15 to reduce the remaining noisy texture.
- Applied a vignette (highlight priority) set to -35 (I tend to like heavier vignetting).
BLACK AND WHITE CONVERSION
After all this, I still wasn’t pleased with the result. There were some funky blue highlights in the gate that I just couldn’t get rid of. The conversion to black and white seemed to be the better option.
I used the black & white tab in the HSL panel to convert the photo. Once converted, I played with the highlights and shadows and the individual color sliders in the black and white mix to produce the effect I wanted. And I edited the adjustment brush to bring down even more the hot spots I had brought down in the color photo.
The differences between the two b&w images are hard to see in the gallery. Clicking on the full size images helps, but without a quick back-and-forth between the two, just a bit. Trust me, though, the additional post-processing did make a difference. I’ve actually had the final black and white printed and it’s just wonderful. Can’t wait to get it matted and framed!
- Can anyone give me a clue how I might effectively get rid of the bluish areas in the iron gate? (I used an adjustment brush and played around with all the sliders, but some sliders didn’t make any difference, and the few that did, well the effect wasn’t pretty.)
- Do you enjoy reading about the details of the process or would you rather just have me tell the story and post the pictures?
- If you like the details, does this post provide too many?
- If I turned this into a weekly challenge, would you participate? It would be as simple as leaving a link to your after/before post in my comments section.
A Few Words About After-Before Friday.
I always enjoy before-and-after photos. It’s interesting to see the creative post-processing choices of others and it’s a wonderful way to learn what can make photos better. Currently, I post-process to correct my exposure mistakes (and there are many). But as my skills with my camera improve (fingers crossed), I envision using post-processing to apply different creative choices to my photos. So I guess these posts will be a gauge of my progress.