Salvaging a Photo You Would Normally Reject
Monday 19 September 2016 — Category: Processing
While on my North Portland Vancouver, Albina and Mississippi Avenues walk in March 2016, I passed the historic (built 1890) Gothic Revival Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on the corner of North Williams Avenue and NE Stanton Street in the Eliot Neighborhood of Portland, Oregon.
Unfortunately, the picture I took of this beautiful church building had some major problem. The morning sun was behind the church, so the front was shrouded in shadows. In addition, ugly utility cables passed right in front of the building. Seeing it in person wasn’t too bad, but the resulting photo was quite disappointing. It would be easy to consider this picture a failure, and toss it in the reject pile. But I felt that with some work, it had a lot of potential.
My primary tool for photo editing is Adobe Lightroom. When trying to salvage an image with exposure or color problems, usually the first thing I do is convert it to black and white. This gives me a lot more latitude for making fairly extreme adjustments. You just can’t go that far with a color image.
As you can see by comparing the before and after versions, I also made some perspective corrections. Once I was satisfied with my adjustments, I opened the edited version in Photoshop. After a bit of painstaking work, I was able to remove all of the utility cables using the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp tools.
Once I was finished, I was amazed at the transformation and very pleased with the results. And to think I almost rejected this photo! The half-hour of work I put into it was definitely worth it! Be sure to check out a larger version of the final image. Somehow it has a dramatic feel — perhaps it’s the clouds.
It goes without saying, but I think I need to say it anyway: you have to be shooting RAW images in order to get good results with this type of editing. JPGs just won’t cut it.
Before you toss one of your problematic photos, why don’t you take a shot at salvaging it? You may be surprised by what you can accomplish!