Don't be Afraid to Re-edit!
Like, I suspect most photographers, I tend to do most of my post-processing just after importing from a memory card to my editing program. This is almost exclusively Lightroom, although all my Fuji images are processed via the Iridient Transformer program. This gives a sharper, more detailed image, but as it is all done through an algorithm, I don't consider it editing per se. Photoshop is reserved for those trickier images where something extra needs to be achieved that is beyond Lightroom's capabilities. Essentially though, once I have discarded some images, the edits I make tend to remain static on any one particular image. That was certainly the case for this image made a few years ago at Pine Lodge Gardens, until today. The final result, shown above is one I am now happy with. It is still not perfect (no image is) but it works for me in terms of composition and balance with no distracting highlights and a feel commensurate with the autumnal subject. Compare it with the Straight out of camera (SOOC) below:
The image is un-cropped and there are bright highlights which distract the eye at both top and bottom of the image. The Lantern competes with the cobbles beyond and the colour balance is cold. Colours also appear washed out. It has potential, but needs editing. Below is the edit which has sat on my hard drive for several years now and although I consider it an improvement, on reviewing the image for a talk to a local Camera Club, I felt it needed improvement.
The colours are now warmer and more autumnal, the reflected highlight at bottom has been cropped out and the one at the top reduced. However I have lost part of the Lantern's reflection and the eye tends to stray out of the image still either to the rock at mid left, or to the cobbles. The light doesn't stand out against the cobbles and looks a bit flat.
So, what did I do to improve it? Well first, I re-cropped to bring back the reflection. Then I reduced the highlights using a radial filter and using more radial filters, plus a brush adjusted the relative brightnesses of the Lantern, cobbles and rock. This meant losing the top of the image, but that was fine as it was distracting anyway. Finally, I did a bit of simple cloning to remove some distracting leaves. There is possibly a bit more cloning to be done, but that is a job for Photoshop. So, going back to the final image, it is above all, calmer, quieter and more harmonious, reflecting far better my original intentions when I made the image in the first place.
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