Before and After Forum; Count Down to the Show

Benjamin Rowe Before Wk22The 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.

Last weekend in my city there was the annual light festival. This is a great festival for taking photos as the city is filled with light displays and installations. At the centre of the city in freedom square; the city museum, one of the many churches and the old town hall become the canvas for a huge animated lightshow. The light show is mapped to the shape and contour of the buildings to allow the animation to interact with the buildings.
The shot I am editing for the before and after forum today is taken from the square looking down the main street. Even with all the light around me I was having to shoot at ISO6400 and using an 18mm lens stopped down to f/3.5 I was still left with an exposure of 1/20, just acceptable but still with the possibility of camera shake. In editing this picture all I wanted to do was balance the exposure correct the perspective and give the picture a bit of kick, I wouldn’t have too much room for manoeuvre because the scene is dark at a high ISO and noise would be my enemy.


The first steps I took were to correct lens distortions and chromatic aberrations. I also set the profile of the image to landscape and used the automatic perspective correction. I then used the crop tool to crop around the perspective correction.


I adjusted the overall tone of the image with a low shallow s curve darkening the shadows and midtones while preserving the highlights.


I adjusted the midtone contrast with clarity and pushed the saturation of the colours evenly with the vibrance tool.


Since it is a high ISO image there was a lot of noise, but in aggressively tackling the noise I would lose definition in the buildings even by sharpening. I pushed the removal of colour noise all the way 100 and left the Luminance at 50 (Since noise is hidden in dark tones this would be enough of a reduction. I set sharpening lose to the level of noise reduction and then pushed the detail sharpening to bring out some of the more delicate areas.


The final adjustment was to set the white and black points to leave a balanced image.

Count Down to the Show

This image is another example that if the shot is good in camera then minimal adjustments need to made. This shot is a little soft in places due to slight camera shake, with hindsight I could have exported to Photoshop and used the blur reduction filter. I like the outcome a lot and it is a great image really representing the moment.

Let me know in the comments what you think.

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

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15 thoughts on “Before and After Forum; Count Down to the Show

    • Automatic perspective correction works 90% of the time and will also straighten the image as well. I use it when I habe not used a wide angle lens and/or a low perspective compositionally. I am a stickler for straight lines and right angles.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  1. I like the perspective correction tool but you have to shoot wide to allow it to work without cropping too much. You might wish to correct a typo. I think is. Fair to describe it as ‘ the shit I am editing’. 😉

    • lol, I am actually laughing. That was a great typo but now created, it is interesting how word didn’t pick that up, well it was grammatically correct.
      Typos are easy and proof reading too close to writing means you read through them.

      • It’s an easy typo because I and O are adjacent on the keyboard. I’ve done it many times but usually pick it up. It made me laugh too.

  2. A great blog post, lots to learn. I haven’t done a lot with noise and noise reduction, so this lesson helped. I also appreciate that you talked about your hindsight, your lesson learned for next time! I am looking forward to next week already.

    • Thanks, I believe there is always a lot to learn and really there will never be a perfect picture esp for me as I am my own worst critic. All images i believe need some noise reduction especially when it comes to HIGH ISO images as the noise becomes a distraction.

  3. Nice tutorial! I love the perspective correction tool, but I sometimes struggle to make a decision on whether to use it or not. More often than not, I tend to like the distortion that the lens puts on the scene, but if I’m attempting a landscape shot of some sort, I tend to lean toward correcting perspective to some degree.

    Once again, love the post.

  4. I find the perspective correction tool to be invaluable! Great use of it here, Ben. I also appreciate that you used the chromatic aberration tool as well as setting the profile (small measures that are oftentimes overlooked). And what a wonderful event to be able to photograph. Looks like so much fun. Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy seeing what you do!

  5. You are a fantastic teacher. You communicate very well and I can’t wait to try some of the tips I have been picking up from you. Thanks. This After/Before post is no exception. Just great!

    • Thank you Emilio, my day job when not taking photos is teaching Middle school kids photography. Apart from my college and university degrees in photography, everything else I learnt esp with Photoshop was from free tutorials before everyone hid behind pay walls and I feel that I have an obligation to give it back for free.
      Thanks for your comment Emilio and I can’t wait for the next Before and After forum post.

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