November One Photo Focus

Highlighting the creative magic behind post-processed photos

Welcome to ABFriday’s monthly One Photo Focus! This month, 27 photographers share their post-processing interpretations of one “before” image submitted by Helen Chen of HHC Blog.

We begin with Helen’s “before” image, followed by the “afters,” and at the end, a gallery of all so you can watch the changes as you scroll through. Be sure to click the links to each participant’s blog as many have written posts “uncovering the magic” behind their “after” images. And if you would like to participate in December’s One Photo Focus, you’ll find all the details on the After-Before Friday Forum page.

Note: Don’t forget to check out After-Before Friday, hosted by Benjamin Rowe on Aperture 64. There you can share the magic “after” of your own “before” image, every Friday except the first Friday of each month (when One Photo Focus runs)!

Helen Chen One Photo Focus November
Anping Treehouse, Tainan, Taiwan

Submitted by Helen Chen — HHC Blog

Helen is traveling internationally and, sadly, was unable to submit her own post-processed version. But she’s very excited to see what we’ve all come up with! Hope you like what you see, Helen, and safe travels!

Submitted by Stacy Fischer — Visual Venturing

So, one of the benefits of being the hostess of this challenge is that I get to post as many iterations as I want. 😉 Actually, I’m posting the first image because it is the one I used as a base for the other two. I used a combination of Lightroom and ColorEfex Pro for post-processing Helen’s original image. I could have stopped with this edit, but I wanted to play around with a new program I have (Topaz Expressions) to see what else I could come up with.

Stacy Fischer, Visual Venturing

For the second image, I used Abstraction I, blend normal, and added a vignette. Back in Lightroom, I boosted the color a bit. That’s it.

Stacy Fischer, Visual Venturing

For the third image, I delved into the Impressionistic filters and chose Swirly Strokes II. I tweaked a number of the sliders to get the effect I wanted, and then back in Lightroom, I did more tweaking – of the contrast and shadows. It makes me think a little bit of a cartoon.

Stacy Fischer, Visual Venturing, One Photo Focus November

Between the first and the second, I’m not sure which I like better, but it was fun to learn some of the ins and outs of Topaz Expression. So thanks, Helen, for letting us all play with your image. I must admit, it was a tough one, but it allowed me to turn loose my inner painter!

Submitted by George McCane — Photoman401

George McCane, Photoman401

George says: I made this a 3 exposure (-2, 0, +2), then blended the photos in Photomatix Pro.  I took it back to Lightroom CC and did the “Wow Tango”, did a curves adjustment for contrast and used the Luminance sliders to enhance the colors, then some sharpening and noise reduction.  The frame was made in Photoshop.

Submitted by Laura Macky — Laura Macky Photography

Laura Macky, Laura Macky Photography

 Submitted by Michelle Lunato — Michelle Lunato Photography

Michelle Lunato, Michelle Lunato Photography

Michelle says: This month, I tried to pretend I was an artist. Since I can’t draw, I figured I would try to make Helen Chen’s photo look like a colorful sketch. It was pretty fun and I like the result. I just may have learned something new too.

Submitted by Bren Ryan — RyanPhotography

Bren Ryan, RyanPhotography

Submitted by Chris — sv-takeiteasy

Chris Danger, sv-takeiteasy

Chris says: With all the lines and deep shadows, Helen’s image was a challenge to work with.  I decided to crop the photo into a portrait, focusing on the aerial roots of the banyan tree on the right, and to emphasize the passage of time by giving the image an aged look.  For details of what I did, check out my post here.

Submitted by Robin Kent — PhotographybyKent

Robin Kent, PhotographybyKent

Robin says: I really liked the creepy nature of Helen’s image and I could see lots of possibilities. I started out by  going for a Halloween motif, since it was that time of year.  I prowled the internet for some spooky items to blend in such as spiders, a vampire, and werewolf.  I even toyed with the idea of borrowing Richard Avedon’s classic “Nastassja Kinski with Serpent,” but none of this was working very well.  So I shifted gears and using Photoshop CC converted the image to Black and White.  Then I applied the “Find Edges” tool, added a curves adjustment layer and darkened the entire image, and finally added a hue/saturation adjustment layer and increased the overall saturation.

Submitted by Jessika Gosen — Jessika Gosen

Jessika Gosen, Jessika Gosen

Submitted by Shannon Hart — Shannon’s Creative Work

Shannon Hart, Shannon's Creative Work

Submitted by Emilio Pasquale — Photos by Emilio

Emilio Pasquale, Photos by Emilio

Submitted by Ashleigh Pienaar — Through the Viewfinder

Ashleigh Pienaar, Through the Viewfinder

Submitted by Karen Migliaccio — Karen Migliaccio

Karen Migliaccio, Karen Migliaccio

Karen says:  It might be that I edited this image on Halloween, so all I could envision was a haunted house, glowing from within.  Here are the main processing and edits:

Small crop and cloning to eliminate light spots on the wall.

Used On 1 Perfect Effects:
Infrared filter switched the lights and darks for a nighttime effect
Photo filter “urban sickness” gave a bluish green cast
Added a rough border and used a glow on the inside of the door frame

In Photoshop:
Brushed in bats and used Liquify filter to give pointy wings
In lighting effects, used the spotlight to light the interior and a little lighting on the exterior
Render – added a lens flare

This was fun, gave me a chance to try some new things in PS.

Submitted by Ted Griffith — Ted Griffith’s Photo Art Studio

Ted Griffith, Ted Griffith's Photo Art Studio

Submitted by Marie — The Syllabub Sea

Marie, The Syllabub Sea


Submitted by Amy — The World Is a Book

Amy, The World Is a Book

Submitted by Joanne Ritchie — Coffee Fuels My Photography!

Joanne Ritchie, Coffee Fuels My Photography!

 Submitted by Mary Hone — Tales from the Backroad

Mary Hone, Tales from the Backroad

Submitted by Julie Powell — Julie Powell Photography

Julie Powell, Julie Powell Photography

Submitted by Yan Balczewski — From Hiding to Blogging

Yan Balczewski, From Hiding to Blogging

 Submitted by Raewyn — decocraftsdigicrafts

Raewyn, decocraftsdigicrafts

Raewyn says: Edited in the Nik Collection and Lightroom.

 Submitted by Marsha Leith — CoolQuilting

Marsha Leith, CoolQuilting
Marsha says: Modified with a mixture of platforms and programs this month: Lightroom, Brushstroke iPad app and Photoshop Elements.

Submitted by Cee Neuner — Cee’s Photography

Cee Neuner, Cee's Photography

Cee says: I found Helen’s photo tricky for me to edit.  I knew I wanted to crop it and tried a few different crops.  I finally decided to crop out the right side and some and the sky which was a little burnt out.  I wanted to keep the focus on all the super cool roots that surrounded the building.

Submitted by Nancy / dogear6— Living the Seasons

Nancy/dogear6, Living the Seasons

Nancy says: Thanks to Stacy and Helen for another month of fun in expanding my post-processing photography skills! After some Lightroom adjustments for exposure, contrast, and clarity (among other things), I cropped down the picture as my eye wasn’t sure what to look at first. In this way, I focused on the bricks.

The doorway was another challenge. I cloned out the red object and removed some speckles from the top half. I decided to darken the doorway more, using a mask, so that it looked mysterious. Once those change were done, I began experimenting with a number of Topaz Labs filters. I wanted a dark and creepy look to the picture. I didn’t end up with that! Instead, my favorite was this charcoal drawing, which I felt highlighted the brick and vines in a beautiful way.

As usual, I experimented quite a bit. The results of my other attempts can be found at my blog, or

Submitted by Nic Anderson — Photography by Nic

Nic Anderson, Photography by Nic

Submitted by Lynne Ayers — Beyond the Brush Photography

Lynne Ayers, Beyond the Brush Photography

Submitted by Linda James — Rainy Day Reflections

Linda James, Rainy Day Reflections

Linda says: My initial goal was to make the building seem a little spooky and a little magical.  I decided to try out the MacPhum’s Creative Kit 2016 (which I just received).  First, I used the moderate filter in Noiseless to reduce some of the noise around the edges.  Then, I played around with the filters in the FX Photo Studio.  I used three filters to get the effect I was trying to achieve:  Glow Vivid Color, Midway & Posterize.  Next, I used Snapheal to remove the tree limb that was hanging over the door.  Then, I.darkened the inside of the building and added some magical colors to the floor by the entrance.   Finally, I boosted the light just a little using the Fotor app. 

I enjoyed working on this challenge.  

I’ll post about this challenge on my blog later this week:

 Submitted by Katie Prior — Drawing with Light

Katie Prior, Drawing with Light

 Please click on the links of those who contributed this week, to read about their post-processing steps and/or to see what other treasures they have on their blogs. They’d love to have you visit!

So what do you think of the ABFriday forum?

Feel free to leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section. And don’t forget to view the guidelines if you want to participate. I’d love to have you onboard!

65 thoughts on “November One Photo Focus

  1. OMG! What a treat!!! Thank you everyone! I can’t believe what I see. I was going to submit one before going to Taiwan, but I couldn’t come up with any good idea. When I was in Taiwan, I couldn’t wait to see what people had come up with. Now I see them,I am thrilled! I have learned a lot from this challenge, but I have never felt this excited.
    For many years after I came to U.S., I didn’t see a single banyan tree. Your first photo shows the exact image I had with the tree during that first 20+ years. Those aerial roots… I always thought I could climb up on them. I like the abstract second photo and the cartoon third too. I can’t believe you have come up with 3 wonderful ideas. It tells me that I really need to step outside of my box!!! Thank you.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! Can’t thank you enough. Can’t wait for the next month’s challenge.


    • Helen, my apologies for not replying to your comment sooner – somehow I missed it until just now! Anyway, I’m so delighted YOU were so delighted with everyone’s interpretations! Seems a lot of fun was had by all. And thanks so much for your kind words about my images. How wonderful to hear that my first image really was true to the scene you remember! Thanks so much for a challenging and fun submission 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Damn, I have been having ongoing doses of Real Life getting in the way of the fun stuff like this challenge and I was so busy I forgot!

    Lots of interesting interpretations (I liked the skulls and the spiderwebs) and lots of new players this month too.

    I probably wont be able to play the next couple of months as one of the things that has been distracting me is I have been scheduled for a long awaited surgery on 3rd Dec, which has a 4-6 week recovery time – probably at least a month on the sofa not doing a lot so have fun without me – its a good surgery and life will be much better as a result but the recovery is going to be a bit rough.


  3. Dang, I hate when there are so many contributors to this challenge. I’m going to have to up my game to get some attention around here. There are so many truly inspired photographers and/or post processors around lately. I’m loving so many of these it’s going to take me all month to comment on every one. I’ve used Topaz, but not extensively because there’s just so many choices that it gets confusing- or mind numbing. I love your swirly effects. And I used to love Scooby-Doo, too!


    • Oh, I’m with you on the truly inspired photographers/post-processors, Emilio! So much to learn!! But that’s what keeps this challenging journey fun and interesting. And it’s awesome that we can learn from each other. And LOL about Scooby-Doo! I love you even more now 😉


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