One Photo Focus: The Cobb

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.

One again One Photo Focus has come along and Katie Prior has given her image to the forum, for us all to edit.
When I saw this photo I knew I wanted to go black and white. There is a lot of texture in the image that would work nicely with monotone. I also thought that a slight colour toning would work quite well as well.


First I opened the picture in Camera Raw and changed the process to an earlier version of camera raw. I did this because I wanted to have the old sliders recovery and fill in light. In pushing these to the max I can get a faux HDR look that brought out more if the texture in the picture.


I used the Channel mixer to create my black and white toning. By mixing the channels until the total was 100%.


I used a combination of curves adjustments to add contrast to the image. I used a strong S curve to create my base contrast adjustment. I then used more selective adjustments for three areas of the image; Sky, Sea and Pier. The curve adjustments were made selectively using a layer mask. The sky adjustment had a second curves adjustment clipped to the sky curves layer, this was to darken the sky are a bit more.


I wanted to darken the whole image slightly. Instead of using brightness and contrast, I placed a photo filter adjustment layer below the channel mixer layer with a yellow tone. Using a colour underneath the channel mixer layer allows you to manipulate the black and white toning.


I wanted to create a colour toning. There are so many ways to do this and I went for the duotone. I did this by creating a stamp visible layer (shift ctrl alt E). I duplicated this layer into a new document and changed the blending mode to duo tone. I selected a colour to be the second tone and then adjusted the curve to finish off the effect. I copied the new duotone layer to my original document and set the blending to color.


I wanted to remove some people from the image. I really liked the silhouette of the people in the background and for me it is kind of the focus of the image. The two people in the foreground kind of distracting and I removed them.


I added some noise just for texture and used the high pass method to sharpen the image. On the sharpening layer I used the layer mask to make the sharpening selective; to make the end of the pier sharper.


I created a vignette to draw focus to end of the pier.


I actually realised when reviewing the video below that I in fact added the sharpening last. I quite like the final image, there is something mysterious about the image. I really want to know what the people at the end of the pier; why are they there, what can they see?

If you want to see me editing at high speed check out the video below.
I would love to know what you think of the image or if you would like just say hi in the comment box below.

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

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26 thoughts on “One Photo Focus: The Cobb

  1. Well, what absolute fun your video is, Ben! I loved watching the image emerge (and it’s clear that post-processing can be steps forward and backware and in-between!). I also agree that removing the foreground couple was the way to go here (though, sadly, I did’t think to do this). It certainly strengthens the composition. Great final image!

  2. I absolutely love your fast motion editing tutorial. It gives me so many ideas of things to try- like your selective highlighting and shadows. Thanks, Ben. your final image is so smooth and elegant and soothing!

  3. This looks great in mono, especially with the toning, it really helps to bring out the textures and the placing of the vignette works so well. I love the hypnotic video, I just might even watch it again!

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