I originally conceived of Before and After as a place to inspire image editors and photographers to consider images as having potential that might have been originally discarded as ‘unsalvageable’. Using an image from my session on Non-Destructive Image Editing from the CorelDraw Unleashed User’s Conference, I will inaugurate this series.
Here is a photo of Split Rock Lighthouse that shows little promise. It has too much dynamic range, is too dark and has some awful sensor debris visible in a couple of different places. In addition, there is some killer lens flare moving from the sun toward the lower left.
Straight out of the RAW converter this was the best I could do. I decided to port it into an Image Editor and see what could be done to save this image.
I used Corel’s PhotoPaint X4 for this example. The steps followed and the methods used are the same in Photoshop, Elements, and PaintShopPro. We are creating a series of Layers/Objects that Adjust/Lens the items below. Essentially, we are taking the image and doing selective corrections.
First, we cloned, onto a new layer, the items which will replace our distracting debris and lens flares.
Second, we applied a tone curve to the foreground area while masking out the sky.
Third, we created a neutral gray object setting the merge mode to overlay and then burned and dodged onto the gray layer to burn and dodge onto our image. The Neutral Layer concept allows us to burn and dodge with non-destructive techniques and still be editable after the fact.
Fourth, we applied a tone curve to the sky, background and selective foreground elements.
Next we adjusted the saturation of the sky.
Lastly we copied the visible layers and pasted them in as a new object so that we could apply sharpening non-destructively.
The final image is a drastic improvement from the original. The sky and the distant point bearing the lighthouse are relatively untouched. The real work was done in the foreground after the lens flare and sensor debris were removed.
This work took approximately five minutes of editing. I consider that to be the maximum amount of time to discover if an image does indeed have potential.
To do the real work of adjusting this image, I would expect to spend a half an hour or more to get the masking tighter and the adjustments tweaked just so.
It may not be a wall-hanger but it has certainly come a long way from the image at the top of this post.
If you like the series, let me know and I will do more Before and After posts in the future.
Now, I am off to Costa Rica for ten days. I will attempt to publish my first blog entry from a foreign land while gone. Stay tuned.
Rikk Flohr © 2008