Before and After Forum; Astronomical Clock

The Before and After forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

BA forum wk 19 Ben Rowe BeforeWhen on holiday and in tourist mode, there are always pictures that are a must have. Fulfilling this can be hard especially if you are in a touristy place (which you most likely are), have limited time and part of a tour group. When I recently visited Prague all of those boxes were ticked and getting some of those must have shots was hard.

One of the must have shots was of the Astronomical Clock, it was even on the list of shots my wife really wanted. When we got there the tour guide stopped a distance from the clock, it was also midday and area was full of people. When the tour moved on I had a few seconds to get the shot before I lost the tour group. I didn’t really chimp after taking the shots, although once in Lightroom I was disappointed. The picture was not straight the perspective shift was off and the colours looked really dull.


The great thing about digital photography is that I could adjust the perspective, to try and straighten up the image. I did as good a job as I think I could do and then applied my normal Lightroom adjustments to try and get the image popping. I couldn’t crop out the white areas because it would mean cropping part of the clock. I came to the realisation I would need to fill this area and rebuild the walls.


In Photoshop I did select the whole white area and tried to use content aware fill, but it didn’t work and just added random bits of the clock to the white area. I decided to start at the bottom of the image as it was the easiest to tackle. I used a rectangular marque and selected the bricks from the lower part of the image and pasted them on a new layer and blended it all together with masks and a bit of cloning.


The right side of the image needed a different approach and I use content aware fill and blended it all together with the clone tool.


The method for the left side was similar to the right with the content aware fill and the clone tool as well.


The walls were now built but the colours looked drab, instead of opening the picture back in Lightroom, I used Niksoft Color Efex with my layers now in a smart object.
In Color Efex I used-

Dark contrast; to enhance the details and textures throughout the image to create a bit more drama.

Detail Extractor; to bring out detail in the clock face

Pro Contrast; enhance the contrast while correcting colour casts.


At last I had the colours I wanted all I needed now was a bit more sharpness.

Prague Astronomical Clock_

Although I am not really happy with the perceptive, it is the best I could get and I was able to rescue the image with a bit of work, which I am really happy with. Compared to last week’s post this was a lot more work, but if I had got it right in the camera the first time then I wouldn’t have used all those steps.

Remember to head over to Stacy’s Blog and check out all the others participating in the forum today.

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20 thoughts on “Before and After Forum; Astronomical Clock

  1. Pretty good result Ben. I am going through the same tourist pantomime at present. Home in a week. No LR unless my MacBook is fixed when we return to Madrid tomorrow. I have had mixed results with the Content Aware tools. Yours looks good.

    • I have come to the conclusion that the best time to take tourist pictures is to be up at the crack of dawn before the tourists have breakfast. I also had mixed results at first with the content aware tool, I found selecting smaller areas creates more accurate fills especially with detailed areas.

  2. Ben, you did a fantastic job rescuing this image. I’ve played around with the detail extractor filter in Nik Efex and it can create some pretty fun looks. The few photos I’ve used it on seem almost poster-like, but you obviously know how to use it well, because the end result just looks lovely. It’s definitely fun having the software and the know-how to turn what might otherwise have become a discarded image.

  3. Oh Ben, you just did a terrific job on this photo; such a colorful and full of texture image you got. Only you; as you mentioned, I would also go back to Prague instead of having to that editing work! Congratulations

  4. Great job, Ben. The final result is a fabulous image. You’re right about getting up early to beat the tourists. Most of my photography is around Washington, DC so I learned early on that getting up early usually works. Often the light is better also.

  5. I am a frequent visitor to Prague, with relatives living there. First advice would be to ditch the guide and your group, especially when you are visiting any city in Europe, it is really hard to get lost. I traveled a lot and in my experience, the best way is to wander on your own. As for the Astronomical Clock, guides usually lead their tourist groups around the time time 12 apostles venture out. So, my advice would be to get earlier and choose a good spot or to wait for the crowd to disperse. It is especially nice in the afternoon, when the sun sets.

    • Normally I would have used a city tour, but we only had 5 hours in the city as we were staying on the Polish side of the Czech border and took the bus that offered a tour included. I have decided to take a long weekend there in the future so will definitely explore on my own then

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