After Before Forum; Lodz a Changing City

B A forum wk48 Before Benjamin RoweThe 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 week I wanted to try and combine two new features in Lightroom CC/6, Panorama and HDR. This is something that I hoped would speed up my editing time. Usually I have to create a HDR or each panel with a preset and then combine a panorama in Photoshop before I can start editing. With Lightroom I could create a panorama for each bracketed exposure and then combine the panoramas into a HDR. This speed things up considerably as everything was taking place in one program.

wk48-1When I thought about this process I also thought about an image I have wanted to take for a while. In Lodz where I live there is a big renovation of the city. Lodz although had a dark history through the war, it was not structurally damaged and the lack of care during the communist rule lead to many buildings falling into disrepair. Because it was not damaged in the war money was not made available to repair the city until very recently. One of the projects in the city has been to build a new central railway station and link it to the other main station in the city underground. From a bridge over the tracks you get a fantastic view of the evolution of the city due to this project which will also create a centre for the city, which it has never had.


After creating my HDR Panorama I cropped away the blank areas using a panorama ratio.


I needed to darken the sky and so I used a large gradient to do this mainly reducing the shadows.


I then created a second gradient not so large reducing the exposure. These two gradients together create a nice sky that slowly fades to the horizon.


With the brush tool I spent a lot of time removing the first gradient from the buildings. I used auto mask and a low flow closer to the edge to get a natural look.


I corrected the white balance for the whole image using the eye dropper and searching for an area that gave me about 50% in each channel. This ended up being one of the buildings in the background. I also adjusted the curve to create more contrast.


I added a gradient in the foreground to brighten up the shadows that felt too imposing especially on the right of the image.


I needed to do something with the colours, generally I liked them but they weren’t great. I headed to the camera calibration to tweak the overall tone of the image. Mainly I was looking to affect the blues and the yellows.


I sharpened the image and reduced the noise as well as tweaking the brush adjustments on the gradient.
Lodz Times a Changing

I had quite a few false starts with this image as I had real problems getting the brush removing what I wanted from the gradient. In the end the answer was reducing the flow in the more complicated areas. Also the white balance looked fine at first except in the buildings, I only twig that in correcting it would help add some colour to this area when I walked away.
The HDR and Panorama work well together. I particularly like Lightroom’s HDR as it creates a really nice image and the ghost reduction is spot on.

I would love to know your thoughts on this image be it positive or negative.

Also please head over to Stacy’s blog to see the other participant’s entries into this weeks forum

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6 thoughts on “After Before Forum; Lodz a Changing City

  1. When I saw this on Stacy’s post, I was intrigued. This is an amazing tool! HDR and panorama at once, very impressive and you’ve made a great job of it. I love the darkened skies and the detail that you’ve brought out in the image and I had to look twice at the scale of the foreground when I realised there was a cement lorry in the channel! Thanks for showing us your step by step process, its very informative.

    • Yep panorama and HDR is much quicker now. I have had some problems with other images, I had to create a HDR first and then the panorama because the panoramas when merged to HDR were different sizes for some reason. I hope you have fun and give it a go with your new CC package.

  2. Ben, one “ah-hah” moment and another “hey, thanks for that” moment. First, on finding a neutral gray – thanks for 50% in each channel! I can remember that 🙂 Second, settings for the brush in complicated areas. Appreciate that tidbit!

    I have used the pano/HDR combo and found it very easy, creating HDR first and then combining into pano. I didn’t try it the other way around only because the other way made more sense to me. Interesting to learn what happens the other way around though.

    Great post-processing on the HDR image. I’m pleased for you that you were able to get the photo you’ve been wanting for a long time!

    As an aside, I’m still having issues with LR. I’ve had to uncheck “write metadata to .xmp file” to prevent the recurring problems. Then I have to remember to save the metadata by clicking command-S. When I’m in my editing zone, I’ve forgotten this second step on occasion, which is where the danger lies in this workaround.

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