Recently, I’ve been going through my older photo files, and I’ve found a number of images that I didn’t quite know what to do with at the time but that have enough potential to revisit. Here’s how I revamped one of my cemetery photos that I worked on earlier, yet was never really happy with. My revamp began with the PSD file I had already done; however, here’s what the initial RAW file looked like:
The exposure is okay, although the statue’s face is way too dark. I like the puffy clouds, so I wouldn’t want to up the overall exposure and blow them out. Normally, I don’t retouch cemetery images much, but the tree tops at the bottom of the frame are distracting and don’t add any interest. And while I really wanted some vivid blue sky showing through, haziness makes it pretty dull. So when I originally worked on this image, I decided to convert it to black and white, with this being the result of my efforts:
Although it’s a lot better than the original, it still lacks the sense of drama and excitement that I wanted to achieve. When I unearthed this file, I knew that I could make it a much better black and white image in Silver Efex Pro. What I really wanted, though, was color in the sky and the clouds. The first thing I did was to remove the black and white layer from the PSD file, which gave me this:
My second step was attempting to boost colors in Lightroom 5; however, it didn’t do much. (It’s possible that I didn’t save the color PSD correctly for Lightroom adjustments, since I’m a Lightroom newbie and I almost always start out with RAW files.) Since that didn’t work, I opened the file up in Viveza. Happily, Viveza allowed me to bump up the colors to this:
Now we’re getting somewhere! Finally some blue sky. The lovely pink tinge in the clouds surprised me and made me wonder if I could make this look like a sunset shot, even though I took it in mid-afternoon. I saved my Viveza edits and opened the file up in Color Efex Pro. I experimented with lots of different filters, ending up with a combo of Brilliance/Warmth, Darken/Lighten Center, Pro Contrast, Skylight Filter, and Reflector Efex. I love the final effect, which far surpasses my wildest dreams of what I could do with this photograph:
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By the way, if you’re not familiar with Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, or Color Efex Pro, they’re all part of the Nik Collection, which I highly recommend. It’s available for Lightroom, Photoshop, and Aperture. You can only use it in one of those programs per computer, though, so choose carefully. The Photoshop version allows you to adjust your edits later if you do them on a SmartFilter layer. Not so in Lightroom, although you can save your set of filters as a Recipe to use later (but you’ll lose your control points). I’ve never used Aperture, so I don’t know how it works there. In any case, Nik’s software provides great tools to help you bring your creative vision to life.
© 2014, Karen Joslin