The Memory Remains

Memory and a photograph are sometimes perceived as the same thing. When we look back on our childhood, I would hope most remember the best of times; bright saturated colours of the world, toys, advertising everything is fresh. Is this because you have photos from your instant or point and shoot cameras loaded with Ultra film? Those were over-saturated. I always remember my childhood as filled with days in the summer sun and wet cold winters, how much of this is a memory being selective and not wishing to show those wet days sat on the floor bored.

It is always interesting when you come back from a day of taking photos and you see a picture that is not quite the way you remember it. It was brighter, sunnier, the sky was clearer yet the picture shows the opposite, something dull and muddier. With digital editing though we can add our remembered vision to a photo crossing the line of reality to the fictional world of human memory.


In this picture I remember the day slightly differently than the photo portrays. It was hot and bright, and the photo is dull and quite close to monotone with all the blue. Why? I was shooting with the sun to my side and the boat was sat in the shadow of the harbour. When I looked at this picture in Lightroom I knew I wanted something more colourful with a hint of the memory of my stay here. There were three steps I planned to take; first add some colour to the picture, switch it from mid-morning to early morning or evening. Second, shift the colours to evoke the memory I have. Thirdly fade the colours to conjure the fragility of memory.



Curves 1 – add yellow, magenta and red to the highlights. Blue was also added to the shadows to reflect the coldness in them.

Gradient Map – yellow to red set to a blending of overlay and a low opacity. The idea was to add some deeper tones to the image. I used a mask to lessen the effect in the foreground.

Photo Filter – Magenta with a low density. Mainly to be added to the sky, as with the gradient map, I used the mask to not have the effect in the foreground.

Curves 2 – add more blur to the image, mainly the sky to bring out some blue in the top. I used the mask to apply the effect.

Colour Shift

There are quite a few curve adjustments I made to manipulate the blue and green channel.


Curves 3 – the idea I had was to shift the yellow and magenta tones more towards Blue and green to begin softening the tone.

Curves 4– complimented the previous curves adjustment by darkening the same tones that I have softened.

Levels 1 – brightened the whole image by adjusting the midtones.

Brightness and contrast 1 –  Increasing the brightness slight and dramatically increasing the contrast I brought back some clarity to the image.

Layer 1 – this is a fill layer of soft yellow set to multiply. This added a lot of yellow back to the image while keeping a bluish feel to the image.

Brightness and Contrast 2 – darkens the image and adds more contrast. More contrast was added to replace what was lost by adding layer 1

Curves 5 – adds more blue to the shadows creating a colder feeling contrast the warmth of the rest of the image.

Curves 6 – this is more to correct the colour cast on the boat. Using a mask I isolated the boat and then warmed up the shadows. This also has created some contrast between the boat and the rest of the image making it the focus of the image.

Layer 3– is my standard dodge layer. In this layer I brightened the boat as it was feeling lost in the scene.



Curves 7 – more curves, this time to soften the blacks and whites as well as darkening the image slightly.

Black and white adjustment layer – auto toning with a blending of soft light and opacity of around 20. The idea is to add some subtle contrast to the image.

Brightness and contrast 3 – reduced contrast, in combination with the black and white adjustment this is like reducing saturation but increasing vibrance but with contrast. It allows the stronger contrast to strand out while the weaker contrasts are subdued.

Vibrance – increase saturation and decrease vibrance. This allows the stronger tones to shine through while reducing the weaker ones.

Exposure – this layer does most to the work in creating the fade effect. Increasing the exposure brightens the image, while the offset adjustment softens the darker tones.

Finishing touches

I wanted to darken the edges slightly, to do this I created a custom vignette and grouped the layers together. The pink was also a little strong in the sky; I used the hue and saturation with its targeted adjustment tool to reduce the pink hue slightly.

Summer Memory


Over to you. What do you think, let me know in the comment box below or if you like just say hi.

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6 thoughts on “The Memory Remains

  1. Just to pick up on an early point, you commented on images looking duller and muddier…if you shoot RAW, you will have dull images until they are processed!

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