AB Friday Forum – Week 35 – February – One Photo Focus…

I don’t know how I missed the entire month of January, well actually I do, but it wasn’t because I wanted to… I was just so busy figuring out new software that I was barely keeping my head above water.

Anyhoo, I’m back and I’m excited about this image.  The first Friday of the month Stacy has asked us all to post-process the same image.  It will be fun to see what everyone else did.

When I saw the image, the first thing that came to mind was that what I wanted to do was keep the moody fogginess, but I wanted to make it look a little HDRish too.  So that is what I set out to do.  Keep reading to learn how I got to this image…


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first thing I did was straighten the photo, it took a couple of tries, because I wasn’t sure what I should use as the guide, the lamp post?, the horizon?… ultimately I used the far building in the distance I used the light-colored line on the red/yellow building.  I tried to do a lens correction, but my software didn’t know the lens (neither did I).

Looking at it now, I guess I could have tried some kind of warp to straighten the lamp post too… but I didn’t.  I was happy with the horizon line being level and let the rest be character to the photo.  EDIT: I figured out how to fix the vertical perspective!  I followed this tutorial after all was said and done.

Using Camera Raw,  I changed the white balance to be more blue (I chose the Daylight preset), increased the contrast and clarity to +10, vibrance and saturation to +5, and then reduced highlights to -60, and whites to -60.

Getting me to this point…


Then I wanted to add pop and sharpness.

I did several things, first I followed a GIMP tutorial I found online called ‘Freaky Details‘, but first I had to download a GIMP plug-in called G’MIC, which you can learn about here and get here.

So I followed the Freaky Details tutorial, which gave me this…


Continuing in GIMP… next, I wanted to make it a bit more moody so I added a blue wash.  Added a new transparent layer, filled it with a dark blue, changed the opacity to 20%, set the blend mode to overlay…


Then I wanted to bump up the colors and give it some oomph, so I added a Hue-Saturation layer.  Create a layer from Visible (from the last few steps), then duplicate that layer, go to Colors->Hue-Saturation and played around with the colors until I liked it…


And finally I wanted to ad a bit more sharpening, so I used my new plug-in and applied the G’MIC High Pass Sharpen [ Filters->GMIC->Details->High pass ], and then set the blend mode to overlay…

The changes are a bit subtle as you go, but I think once all are combined it created a different image.  I really like how the streets became more reflective and now I can see the red double-decker busses (which I didn’t even see before).  I think it has a wet, cold, moody feel and that was what I was trying to achieve.

Kind thoughts and comments are welcome!

Go find out what everyone else did to this image here.

I have joined ABFriday (after before Friday), it is a forum hosted by Stacy at Visual Venturing. This week’s forum can be seen here.

Every Friday Stacy showcases after/before photos we’ve submitted. Then, if we choose, we can tell how we did it on our own blogs.

On the first Friday of the month, we are all invited to post-process the same image, which Stacy has dubbed, One Photo Focus.

Until next time…

33 thoughts on “AB Friday Forum – Week 35 – February – One Photo Focus…

  1. So many helpful information about Gimp, thank you for that. I like your subtle changes, it looks great. I too strengthened the image, using Gimp. I was surprised how easy it was, because of that big part of the sky. I twisted and pulled on few points in the top part of the image and managed to strengthen both sides pretty easily.

  2. Excellent editing work, I like the simplicity of your edit – is a very similar take to what I had in mind for the final correction. great work on the straightening and thanks for the link, I myself will have to follow that too now 🙂

  3. Nic. Thanks for the great detail and explanation on Gimp. I’d not heard of it but am eager to look into it further. Not sure if I’m ready to take on a new learning curve at this point though. Great job on the editing and detail of how you got there.

  4. I agree with Ben that the blue cast, while subtle, really improved the picture and the moodiness of it. I haven’t used GIMP either (which means nothing) but liked the overall effects you did with the picture. I’m glad you corrected the keystoning though – I think that helps it quite a bit.


    • Thanks, Nancy! I really like the cold blue look, so I was excited when I saw this image and felt it would look good here. I’m glad I figured out the perspective correction as well, I agree that it improved the image.

      • It’s fun to see how everyone does it. For me, I really wanted to highlight those colors and bring them out. That was my vision, so I was really awed when I saw how great yours turned out going with the cold blue look. I would have never thought of trying that.

        • Thanks! I love the cold, blue look… I think I see it mostly in some of the movies I watch… in my normal photography, nature, I don’t get to play with that kind of look very often… so it was fun to work on a street/architecture scene. 😀

          • That was my comment too – this isn’t what I usually shoot, so it was out of my comfort zone to process up. There were a few others that used a blue filter to tint it. I used a filter in Topaz called ReStyle and I think it gave me the same effect but in a different way. I realized that after I’d read how you did yours.

  5. Great job. Love the cold blue mood. I was able to straighten the image manually with Lightroom because it was not able to read what lens was used.

    • Thanks, Emilio! I am in a blue period I think, I really like that look. I see manual controls in LR, thanks, I made my raw edits in Camera Raw and then went to GIMP for the big changes. I’m glad I found the perception tool in GIMP because I feel like I had a lot of control over how much it warped and how much I cropped, which worked really well for me.

      • I’ve heard a lot about GIMP but haven’t really looked at it yet. I downloaded a version several months ago, then quickly deleted when I got some malware at the same time. Must not have used the real source!

        • Yes, you must get it from the correct source. Gimp.org is where to go for GIMP, and you may want to read over their recent news area so that you can see where gimp downloading sites are being abused, ie. GIMPshop. Don’t use a third party to download it unless gimp.org has referenced that site. Hope that helps. 😀

          • Your question is a bit difficult to answer with a short reply. The answer lies somewhere between your current abilities in a photo editor and your willingness to learn something new. For example, if you already know the concepts of masks and layers you are going to have a much easier time than someone who doesn’t. That said, if you don’t know about masks and layers you can learn it in GIMP, and it is a skill that will be worth the effort.

            Once you understand how layers and masks work, you can do so much more than you could before. Learning masks and layers is not going to be harder or easier in another photo manipulation program, like Photoshop, you just have to deal with the steep learning curve regardless of which program you learn it on first. But the exciting thing is that once you know it, it translates to other programs easily.

            GIMP also has some global adjustments (that don’t require the knowledge of masks and layers) that are similar to Lightroom and Photoshop, like curves, levels, etc. So a novice can start playing around right out of the box.

            Selection tools will take a bit of skill, but that is also true with Photoshop.

            GIMP has a lot of the fun filters you’ll find elsewhere like blur, sharpen, oilify (oil paint), cartoon, etc. (These also don’t require knowledge of masks and layers, but you can do some fun things if you do).

            Some of the options for GIMP are so fine tuneable that it can be a bit overwhelming, but if you start out with the default and then tweak and play you can achieve some really cool things.

            If you already know some of the shortcut keys for Photoshop, you might get frustrated because they are not always the same. For example, to get the image to fit within the window it is Ctrl-0 in Photoshop, but Shift-Ctrl-J in GIMP. But you can find out the shortcut keys by hovering your mouse over the tool buttons, or if it is a drop-down menu then it usually has the shortcut keys as part of the menu.

            There are a few things that you can do in Photoshop that don’t come with GIMP right out of the box, but you can get plug-ins for, like content-aware, high-pass filter, and vivid light blend mode. GIMP.org has a plug-in registry found here . The great thing about the Open Source community is that if the program doesn’t do something out of the box, and enough people want that function, someone will write it. Do be careful when selecting plug-ins, and make sure they are from reputable sources, check gimp.org to see if it is a known bad.

            The biggest obstacle I have encountered is that GIMP does not read RAW files. It does read several file formats like, .jpg, .png, .psd, .tiff, .gif… (learn more here). You will need a separate program to read RAW files. I’m still exploring this area, since I do have Photoshop I’ve been using Camera Raw, I have been tinkering with UFRaw, RawTherapee, and DarkTable. I have a disk that came with my camera that I haven’t explored yet, that may fulfill my needs.

            I know that whatever *thing* I wanted to do in GIMP that I didn’t know how to do, I could easily go to Google, type in “*whatever I’m trying to do* in GIMP” and there were many links, the ones I would go to first were the ones that pointed to the GIMP manual itself or the GIMP forum.

            Speaking of the GIMP manual, it is free online and available here.

            Books on my bookshelf:

            Grokking the GIMP – free online.

            Beginning GIMP – from Novice To Professional – Akkana Peck

            The Artist’s Guide To GIMP – Creative Techniques For Photographers, Artists, And Designers – Michael J. Hammel

            GIMP 2.8 For Photographers – Klaus Goelker

            The Book Of GIMP – A Complete Guide To Nearly Everything – Oliver Lecarme And Karine Delvare

            As for tutorials, they are all over the internet, all you have to do is search for something you want to achieve and add the word GIMP and there is probably a tutorial out there.

            GIMP.org has a page devoted to links, here you can find forums and tutorials.

            I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions. 😀

  6. Nic great job and Im glad you figured out the perspective adjustment – I just hit AUTO in LR5 and it did it all for me, up til that point I didn’t think I was going to be able to work on the image because of all the tilt and lean on it.

    I like your slideshow with all the stages, yes it is the gradual pileup of lots of little changes that an image is edited, took me a while to learn that 🙂

    • Thanks, Stacey! I tried lens correction (auto) in Camera Raw, but it didn’t know what lens it was… Ben said that he did what I did and then did some manual adjustments. My solution was more manual (with a perception tool), but I had full control of how much tilt and how much to crop, so it worked out really well for me.

  7. Great post, Nic! Though I am unfamiliar with the workings of GIMP, I appreciate your detailed explanations of what you did and, especially, why you chose to do what you did (which you achieved perfectly). I now wish I had kept in the traffic from the image instead of cropping it out 😉

    Glad you figured out the vertical perspective issue; hope you like my solution of posting both photos (😉). Thanks so much for participating! I’m looking forward to more of your how-to’s!

  8. The changes are subtle but they are there visible especially in the details. I straitened the image in camera raw using the lens correction panel and manually adjusting it, quite a simple way to fix what can sometimes be a head ache.

    • Thanks, Ben. I corrected the horizontal line in Camera Raw, but the lens correction portion did nothing spectacular for me it bowed it out a bit and removed some chromatic aberration, but it was so minor I didn’t apply it. It certainly didn’t fix the vertical lines, perhaps I have an older version than you.

Kind thoughts and comments are always welcome...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.