After Before Forum; Plac Wolnosci

The After and Before 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.

This image has been two years in the making. The original idea for this image came about when I started this blog. It was in the summer of 2012 and I wanted to experiment with 360 degree panoramas and create some mini planets. This was my first attempt that I then trashed. My original post about making the panorama was even picked up as freshly pressed by WordPress, something that has eluded me since.

AB forum Wk 29 Benjamin Rowe BeforeYou may ask yourself, why it has taken so long to reach a final image? There are many reasons but they all fallinto the same category, making stupid little mistakes. My first mistake was taking the pictures in landscape to create a panorama; for each section (and there are eight) I took 9 pictures, whereas three or four in portrait would have sufficed.
8 sections 9 pictures lead to 72 pictures, when I created my first panorama the raw files entered Photoshop as full size 14megapixel images creating 3 gigabyte output file, completely unworkable.
I also didn’t use a tripod, another big mistake, this was because of what is in the centre of this square, a tall plinth with a statue on top. When taking the pictures I had to move around the plinth shifting the perspective of each section.

For the last two years I have attempted to edit this picture a few times. It was this week talking to someone about a different mini planet I had created a few months after I shot this one, I started thinking about it again. I decided that the picture could work if I approached it in a different way. Instead of creating one big panorama off the bat, a lot of computer power and time, I decided to create 8 panoramas. Once the 8 were complete, I straightened them out and then paired them to each other to create four, these four were paired again to make two and these two were then merged to create the final output.


The picture was not straight at all and in fact even curved. I took out an old friend Puppet Warp (Edit- Puppet Warp) and straightened the image as much as I could.


I thought next of duplicating the image and then creating a mirror by flipping it horizontally. Although I looked good it had some big glaring issues from the stitching process that I really didn’t want to approach.


I decided to go back to my original plan two years ago and create a mini planet.
You can create a mini planet by making a 360 panorama. In Photoshop you then can use Filter -Distort – Polar Coordinates.
When creating a mini planet the big decision is where to crop your panorama, in other words where to have the beginning and end. It took me a few failed attempts before I found the best place.


When the image is turned into it’s mini planet form there are always issues with the join and a hole that needs to be filled in the middle.


I blended the join as best as I could using content aware fill, clone tool as well as brightness and contrast. In some places I selected an area and used image – transform- distort to aligned parts of the image.


I felt the mini planet was too oval. Using Image – Transform I made the planet more circular and cropped the canvas into a square format.


I increased the hue and saturation and used curves selectively to brighten the buildings in the middle. I also sharpened the image using the high pass method.


Around the planet there was a lot of dead space. I added content here using the mini planet itself. I duplicated the image layer and applied a motion blur. I placed this filtered layer above the main image and adjustments, and then I used the elliptical marque tool to select the planet below. I applied the selection as a mask revealing my mini planet. I duplicated the filtered layer, removed the mask and placed it under the main image layer to fill in areas in the feathering of the other filtered layer mask.


The final adjustments were curves to colour tone the image, I used a preset I named Portaesque that has similar tones to the Porta film and added a vignette to darken the now filled dead space.


Ignoring the last two years this image took about 3 hours to complete, the longest parts being the stitching and then turning into the mini planet. Once these step had been completed it wasn’t too long before I got to the final image.

Ab Forum wk 29 Beenjamin Rowe After

I really like the final result except for the join which although I did the best I could is still noticeable to me and this is the one area I would go back and try to fix.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, do you have any images you have been trying to edit for a while?

Also please head over to Stacy’s blog to see the other participant’s version of the image.

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22 thoughts on “After Before Forum; Plac Wolnosci

  1. Nicely done, Ben. I have been playing with the polar coordinates feature in Photoshop recently but haven’t come up with anything interesting yet. The result here is great and the detailed description is much appreciated. I think several of your points will be helpful in my next attempt. Thanks!

  2. Ben, you always approach your photos from such a wonderfully creative viewpoint. That you were able to ultimately “solve” the puzzle of this image is a testament to that creativity. Such a fantastical process! And while you may be ablecto notice the join, I could not. In fact, I had to study the original to figure it out, and even then, I don’t see an issue. But we’re always our own worst critics as we know exactly what we have done; the rest of us don’t. We just get to enjoy the fruits of your labor 🙂 Great post. And congratulations on a terrific image.

    • Hi Stacy, You are right I am my worst critic like a lot of people and although I can see the negative others can’t which is great. It was a bit of a puzzle to get it all looking right but I think that it also helped that I approached it from a different direction.
      I am not sure how to top this shot for next week.

  3. What a perfect thing to do with your picture. I really like the concept and it has turned out great. Also like the different point of view offered by it. Well done 🙂

  4. I learned a lot from this post… I had no idea about Puppet Warp… that might come in handy one day. There are images that we love that will give us the greatest amount of effort, but teach us the most… Labor of Love as stated above. I too am a perfectionist and a harsh critic of my own work… it really helps to have other eyes tell us we did great. Great job.

  5. Hi Ben, I would call you tenacious! I don’t think I am quite ready for this kind of project but there are a lot of helpful details and can be used in other projects! thanks for sharing.

  6. Three years in the making? I have this image of you at your computer, hair and beard growing out, fingernails becoming like claws, clothes becoming rags. And losing tons of weight until your a mere skeleton of your former self. I’m sure you took bathroom breaks, though, otherwise my imagination would have you also a bit soiled. I am not a fan of these planet effects so I hesitate commenting- although I think what you achieved is amazing. Maybe next week you will choose something a bit easier? I will be there to check it out!

    • Rest assured I took meal and bathroom breaks. I can understand mini planets not being everyone’s cup of tea, rather same as oil filters and the such are not mine.
      I am glad to hear Emilio that you think what I achieved is amazing and I am pretty chuffed about the result myself. The next weeks, which I think you have seen, was a bit easier.

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