One Four Challenge – February Week 2…

I really had no idea what I was going to do this week.  I have a bunch of stuff I’m supposed to get done today, so I thought I’d do something quick and easy… but once I did that, the image was meh and bored me to tears… so I tossed it out.

Normally I try to go for learning something new… today I think I just practiced what I already knew and tried out a few things I was curious about.

Part of the problem I’m having is that the only thing I really like in the photo is the hot air balloon itself.  The sky is boring, the houses are meh… basically, I found myself not even liking the photo today when I sat down to do my next version.

My husband suggested putting the hot air balloon into another one of my photos, but I don’t really have photos of things a balloon would be found in.  I could have the balloon hovering in the background of a picture of my dog, maybe that is something I will explore next week.

But like I said, I have a long to-do list and thought I’d try something that wouldn’t take awhile… which of course is not what happened.  Oh well.

So for today’s image my goals were to make the sky more interesting and to make a better crop.  This means that I added a new photo into the mix and I moved the balloon again.


EDIT: I had a suggestion to increase the size of the balloon, I liked the idea and given the clarity of the balloon this is as big as I could get it before noise was introduced… what do you think?

EDIT 2: I had a suggestion to increase saturation and contrast to make it look less flat and give it more punch… I added saturation, contrast, another gradient from the sky to the houses and then painted a gradient on the balloon to make it look more 3D… the blue in the sky might be a little too much… what are your thoughts?


I had a photo of some storm clouds rolling in, and I wanted to tone that down a bit, because who in their right mind would be in a hot air balloon in that kind of weather?  I tried to lighten the clouds and spread them out a bit and put a small light source over the house, in hopes that it looks like the clouds came quickly, but won’t be a problem since they are about to land… I don’t know if that is what I achieved or not.  As for the crop, I moved the balloon again so that it would be in the cross-hairs of the rule-of-thirds guides… but now the balloon is higher in the air and might take longer to land?  Ugh.  I’m on the fence with this one.


Kind thoughts and comments are welcome!  Do you like it or not?

I have joined a month-long photo post-processing challenge called One Four Challenge, hosted by Robyn at Captivate Me. “This challenge is about processing 1 image in 4 different ways over 4 weeks.” Every Monday Robyn posts a new version of her photo and challenges us to do the same each week.

Here is the original photo…


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  1. Scaled and moved around my cloud image layer to have the trees in the one image not be visible in the other.
  2. Select-by-color the sky and added a mask of the selection (similar to this tutorial).
  3. Added a white and light grey radial gradient to the cloud image to lighten it.  Then I copied that layer and set it to 50%.
  4. Moved the hot air balloon (similar to this tutorial).
  5. Added a light blue (one of the blues in the clouds) wash to try to blend the two photos together a little more realistically (similar to this tutorial).
  6. Added a square light grey to dark grey gradient to give the house a light source similar to the clouds (similar to this tutorial).

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Until next time…

25 thoughts on “One Four Challenge – February Week 2…

    • Thanks, Loré! You know, I think because I wasn’t ‘feeling’ the photo this week I was really open to suggestions. I’m so happy that we have a great community in the One Four Challenge that encourages, suggests, and compliments our efforts. 😀

    • Thanks, Ben! I agree that the balloon makes a better composition now. The colors are flat huh? I’ll play around with Saturation and Contrast… I was trying not to over do it, perhaps a heavier hand next time. Also I put a blue wash over the whole image to have the sky blend a bit better, that might have muted the colors in the houses. Thanks for your input. 😀

  1. Nice work on the edit. I like the new balloon location in the image. A couple of thoughts: I’m glad you toned done the storminess, because the trees are still and no sign of a breeze. Have you considered enlarging the balloon to make it look closer? It would be fun to pop that balloon into another scene as you mentioned. Maybe a sunset background…

    • Thanks, Karen! I hadn’t considered the idea of the trees having to need a breeze for the stormy clouds, good call.

      I liked your idea of enlarging the balloon… so that’s what I did. I made the changes on this post, if you’d like to see how it looks now. 😀

      I’ll have to look at my sunset photos… most of them are really firey which would mean I’d have to bring those reds and oranges to the rest of the photo, a possible challenge I’m willing to explore. Or they are over the ocean, so I’ll have to see if any of them would work here. Thanks for the ideas. 😀

    • Thanks, Albatz! No it wasn’t easy… heh. It took a few tries before I remembered to select by color the sky, then do the rest by hand. That balcony and the roof took some time, but at least they were straight lines. By the way, in case you didn’t know, if you click a spot, hold down the shift key and then go to another spot, you’ll get a straight line, then you click again… and voila you’ve painted a straight line. When my instructor showed us that it was a total game changer! 😀

  2. Nic, I do like the new and improved sky and moving the balloon works. Sometimes we just don’t get excited about our work, but then there are others that we really do get excited about 🙂

    • Thanks, Dune Mouse! I like the balloon location better this week too! 😀 I’m glad I had a good cloud photo to import and play with, I’m glad you like it.

  3. Hi Nic, yes I like the stormy sky. It gives far more interest to the image. Interesting process you documented re keeping the light on the houses in sync with the mood of the sky… I have started a clouds file so that when I select a cloud pic to replace a sky, it’s already in sync with the image… Less processing/correction for lazy me!

    • Thanks, Chris! It is definitely one I had to walk away from because I was starting to feel like it was over-processed. I’m so glad you like it! 😀 I tried to go easy peasy… but what I came up with was just plain boring and not worth posting… I guess I’m just into complicated – heh. 😛
      I should start a cloud repository… I don’t have that many images with great clouds. Must get on that. 😀

        • Oooo thanks, Chris, I will read that now. 😀 I can see how you would get to see lots of different kinds of clouds, and usually without any objects in the way while sailing. I live in San Diego, so when it is cloudy it is a rare treat for me. I need to remember to always grab my camera, not just take mental pictures. 😀

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