After and Before Forum; Winter Bud

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.

beforeBetween classes this week I took a short cut through the park with the sun quickly setting. Noticing the fantastic light and since it was a short cut; I decided to take some quick shots on the way. I notice that many of the trees, although it being winter had buds poking out and tightly wrapped. I really liked the pin points of light of the setting sun coming through the trees and the buds seemed like little towers.

When taking the picture I had to think about the exposure and composition. Exposure was tricky, meter for the background and the bud will be a silhouette, meter for the bud and the background will be washed out. I decided to do both, I metered for the sun and then for the bud to work out the difference in exposure and used the flash pop up flash to fill in. I usually don’t like to use the pop up flash favoring my speedlite instead. I took a few shots, then adjusted the power of the flash.

abwk32a

In editing I first cropped the picture to remove the bottom part of the image which I found distracting.

abwk32b

I added some colour adjustments using my Porta esq curves; individual curves for Red, Green, Blue and light.

abwk32c

I did some housekeeping; adjusting the white balance, setting the camera profile, applying capture sharpening and noise reduction.

abwk32d

I next approached the strength of the colours. I first raised the overall saturation and then adjusted the colours individually.

abwk32e

After making a lot of colour adjustments I tweaked the basic adjustments (I wrote as part of my Digital Darkroom Series about these settings). First I reduced the exposure and set the white and black points, making the image darker and adding some more contrast. I reduced the contrast a little. I lowered the highlights and increased the shadows. I reduced the clarity to keep the midtone contrast in check.
I went back to the saturation and increased the vibrance and then reduced the saturation slightly.

abwk32f

I moved onto selective adjustments, using the brush and painted some clarity on to the bud to counter earlier global adjustments.

abwk32g

I added a radial adjustment setting in on the bud with settings reducing sharpness and clarity to add some softness in the background.

abwk32h

My final adjustment was to add two gradient adjustments; one at the top with a magenta tint and one at the bottom with a green tint, to add some separation between the fore and background.

winter bud

I quite like the picture and I had so much fun editing and taking the picture.

I would really like to know what you think about the picture in the comment box below.

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

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32 thoughts on “After and Before Forum; Winter Bud

    • Hi James, To be honest I wouldn’t have used the two gradients if I hadn’t read an article a a few months about about using colours to make images pop and one idea was to use colour contrast to create depth. It is really great idea that is hard to make work in camera all the time but it is always in the back of my head now.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment James.

  1. I LOVE it. Not sure I understood it all but that is because I have yet to comprehend and use the gradient and some of the other things you mentioned. I definitely need to play around a bit more as this is some great stuff. I only have LR 2 so I am not sure I can do those things. It seems to be very basic, but that may be I just don’t know where to find things yet. Thank you for the details! Great job.

    • Hi, I have Lightroom 5 with Adobe CC and some of those features are not yet present in LR 2, although you can compare some settings there was a big change with LR 4 in the settings.
      I am glad you like the picture and edit.
      Thanks for taking the time to pop over and comment.

  2. Gorgeous image Ben! It was pretty good to start with (I would have been very pleased with it!), but you have made it truly amazing. The increase in saturation and the final bit where you did a gradient filter on the magenta/green tints have really enhanced the image. You can really tell that you enjoyed taking and editing this!

    • Hi Mary, the halos were created by having the lens wide open ( a large aperture o. My this lens at 300mm it is f/5.6). I love the details I the bud as well.
      Thanks for poppi g by Mary and taking the time to comment.

  3. Wonderful photo. I have limited understanding of all the editing stuff but I can comment on the aesthetics of the photo. I love the pin sharp bud against the abstract background. Fantastic use of bokeh too. The warmth of the bokeh emphasise the story you are telling about new growth at this time of year.

  4. Ben, I love it when you work in Lightroom as I can truly grasp everything you have done. I, too, love the color gradient effect you used – I use the gradient tool a lot, but I have never applied color to it. So thanks for that tip! All you did ended up with a lovely, glowing after photo! I also appreciate you spelling out your process in shooting the photo – exposing for both the sun and the bud and figuring out the difference. Always good to be reminded of that in a high contrast situation.

  5. Ben, this is such an appealing beautiful image.
    Love the stunning simplicity.
    Everything youve done, starting with the camera and finishing with the complimentary gradients is wonderful. Would be interested to read the article if you know where it was.
    It really adds an edginess that adds a wow factor.
    Great ‘seeing’ by the way 😃
    This is one of my real favourites of your work. Stunning!!

    • Hi Robyn, I was sure I had bookmarked the article but I can’t find it know. It wasn’t aimed at photographers but more at graphic designers but there was a lot about colour was applicable for both. If I find it again I will link it to you.
      I am really glad the picture is one of your favourites.

  6. Hi Ben, lovely work once again, and each week I look forward to reading your post. I like the idea of using two gradient tools and making adjustments as required. I would not have thought about colour adjustments as part of the process. very handy to know! thanks

  7. Ben, there was absolutely nothing wrong with your original image until you started messing with it. And now? Well, now I can better appreciate your talent. I tell you except for a few minor adjustments I probably would have posted this image as is. But with your eye and talent you have elevated it. There’s an expression, something about blowing wind up a person’s skirt in complimenting them. I want you to know I’m not just blowing wind up your skirt. This is great! I love what you did with it. But what’s more impressive is that you were able to get it so close to perfect just with your camera eye, alone! 🙂

    • I know the saying blowing smoke up someones ass and just to do this to myself; i have always found that if it looks good in camera with some careful editing the shots will look great.
      I wish you could see my “contact sheet”, it took quite a few, no, a lot of attempts to get it just right when shooting. I did chimp a bit as I was shooting after each burst to check and see if I had got it or not.
      Thank you Emilio for your kind and quite ego boosting comment. I promise to keep my ego in check though 😉

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