10 Winning Images – Before & After

I’ve written this post to give people a better understanding of how much vision and processing goes into each photograph. As you will see, it can vary greatly. Here are 10 photographs that won ribbons on www.dpchallenge.com in their before and after states.

UPDATED: November 5th, 2010 to include: Equipment Used & Camera Settings

1. “Photographer” –

BeforeAfter01

Photographer

Challenge Topic: Your Occupation (Advanced Editing)

Date Taken: August 9th, 2008

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS

Camera Settings: 1/3 sec @ f/22, ISO 100

Story behind the image: I enrolled into the Better Than Average side challenge, so I was determined to get a good photograph. Based on the challenge topic, I knew I wanted show the photography profession. I had been to Albion Falls before, and thought if I had myself in the photo, that it would provide a good sense of scale. I had a friend come with me for the 40 minute drive to the waterfall. I set up the tripod to frame the shot I wanted, walked onto the waterfall, and got my friend to take the photos. I varied my position between photographs; standing up & crouching down. I borrowed my brothers camera to use as a prop within the photograph.

Editing Steps:

1. Duplicate Layer
2. Change blending mode of top layer to multiply
3. Change opacity of top layer to 25%
4. Crop Image
5. Use clone tool to remove water droplet on camera lens (right side of image)
6. Use clone tool to remove small branch/tree (upper left corner of image)
7. Adjustment Layer for Brightness/Contrast
8. Mask Adjustment Layer for top of waterfall
9. Adjustment Layer for Hue/Saturation
10. Mask Adjustment Layer for person
11. Adjustment Layer for Levels
12. Flatten Image
13. Change Image size to 720 by 720
14. Add White Border
15. Unsharp Mask
16. Save as…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 107


2. “Carbon Copies”

 

BeforeAfter02

Carbon Copies

Challenge Topic: Suburbia (Advanced Editing)

Date Taken: October 12, 2008

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS

Camera Settings: 1/400 sec @ f/4, ISO 200

Story behind the image: I had recently moved into my new town home, and therefore lived in a neighbourhood where there were many similar homes. I went around the neighbourhood looking for a photograph with that “suburban” look. On my second day of shooting, I decided to take a photo looking between 2 rows of town homes since the grass was fairly new, and there were no distractions such as furniture, fences, etc.

Editing Steps:

1. Opened IMG_0131.CR2
2. Created an Adjustment Layer->Black & White
3. Reduced the reds to make the buildings darker, increased the yellow and greens to make the grass lighter
4. Copied the Green Channel and pasted it into the RGB channel. Changed the blending mode to Soft Light.
5. Adjustment Layer for Brightness/Contrast. Modified the mask with a brush so that the windows weren’t as bright
6. Cloned out a few minor tuffs of grass that were bothersome.
7. Merged Layers
8. Opened IMG_0132.CR2, but changed the exposre in the raw converter at least -2.0 to bring out the details in the sky.
9. Created an Adjustment Layer->Black & White
10. Copied the Green Channel and pasted it into the RGB channel. Changed the blending mode to Soft Light.
11. Merged Layers
12. Bring IMG_0132 into same file as IMG_0131, and placed underneath in the hierarchy.
13. Created a mask for IMG_0131 so that only the sky from IMG_0132 is visible.
14. Created an Adjustment Layer for IMG_0132 (sky) – Brightness/Contrast
15. Modified the mask with a brush so that the large con trail in the sky was not too bright.
16. Flattened the image
17. Convert to profile -> sRGB
18. Reduce the image size to 720 wide
19. Unsharp mask at 25%
20. Add a 2 pixel border
21. Save as…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 44


3. “Mirror, Mirror, on the ball…” –

BeforeAfter03

"Mirror, Mirror on the ball..."


Challenge Topic: Mirrors (Basic Editing)

Date Taken: November 4th, 2008

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS

Camera Settings: 1/6 sec @ f/11, ISO 100

Story behind the image: I originally made a mirror box by taping 6 mirrors together (I had the mirrors laying around from a University project I did years back). At this time of year, most of the leaves on the trees have already fallen down. I somehow knew that the forest behind my parents house still had leaves (I must have visited recently), so I made the 45 minute drive to the forest to take photos of the mirror box.  The photos were okay, but nothing special. Unfortunately,  when I got home, and put my CF card into the computer, it appeared blank. I used some software recovery software to get the images back. Not completely happy with the images, and not knowing if the recovered images would pass validation, I decided to give it another go. The secretary at my work had this mirror ball on her desk. I borrowed the ball, and remade the trip back to the forest by my parents house. I tried shooting in various locations within the forest, and this shot eventually presented itself.

Editing Steps:

1. Open in Raw Converter in Photoshop
2 Increase the “recovery” slider to get more information in the highlights
3. Adjust temperature slider
4. Adjustment Layer for Curvres
5 Adjustment Layer for Hue/Saturation
6 Adjustment Layer for Color Balance
7 Adjustment Layer for Brightness/Contrast
8. Resize to 640 x 640
9. Unsharp Mask
10. Add border
11. Save As…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 84


4.”Midnight Oil” –

BeforeAfter04

Midnight Oil


Challenge Topic: Band Names (Basic Editing)

Date Taken: August 11th, 2009

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS USM

Camera Settings: 30 sec @ f/10, ISO 200

Story behind the image: Once the challenge was announced, I went to wikipedia to browse band names. I had already entered a photograph of this location twice, but was not 100% happy with the results. Once I saw the band name Midnight Oil, I knew exactly what I was going to do. It didn’t hurt that I genuinely like the song “Beds are Burning“.

Editing Steps:

1 – Open Raw file in Photoshop, adjust white balance, and recovery sliders
2 – Adjustment Layer – “Curves”
3 – Adjustment Layer – “Levels” (24,1.00,255)
4 – Adjustment Layer – “Hue/Saturation” (+15 Saturation)
5 – Crop
6 – Resize to 640 wide
7 – Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask
8 – Add border
9 – Save for Web…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 61


5. “Flying” –

BeforeAfter05

Flying

Challenge Topic: Drama (Basic Editing)

Date Taken: August 24th, 2009

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS

Camera Settings: 1/640 sec @ f/4, ISO 400

Story behind the image: My friend and I went to the CNE with the intention of taking photographs. With this challenge in mind, I took many photos of the rides. Once the sun starting setting, I thought it would be a good idea to get a photo of the swing ride in silhouette. I took more than 150+ photos of this ride alone, and eventually choose this composition. Because it was a Basic Editing challenge, and cloning was not allowed, I cropped the photograph in such a way that the poles at the bottom of the photo were removed.

Editing Steps:

1 – Open RAW file using Photoshop; adjust exposure and recovery sliders
2 – Adjustment Layer – Hue/Saturation (Saturation: R+43,Y+54,G+0,C+30,B+10,M+44)
2 – Adjustment Layer – Curves
3 – Adjustment Layer – Black & White – (R110,Y122,G300,C30,B-85,M-200) – Select “Tint” – Choose yellow tone and adjust saturation
4 – Crop
5 – Resize image to 640 wide
6 – Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask
7 – Add border
8 – Save for web…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 253


6. “Marina at Night” –

BeforeAfter06

Marina at Night

Challenge Topic: X Marks the Spot (Advanced Editing)

Date Taken: September 27th, 2009

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS

Camera Settings: 25 sec @ f/4.5, ISO 100

Story behind the image: My friend and I went downtown to take photos for this particular challenge. My friend had an idea in mind, but I did not. After he was done shooting, I suggested we visit the marina I had seen a few weeks earlier, on the way to the CNE. I took a few photographs of the boats in the marina before I found these two sailboats looking face to face.

Editing Steps:

1 – Open RAW file in Photoshop, adjust Colour Temperature slider & Recovery slider
2 – Clone out lens flare (top left of photo)
3 – Copy Green channel, paste into RGB channel, change opacity mode to “Soft Light”, 40%
4 – Adjustment Layer – Hue/Saturation (Yellow channel (Saturation & lightness))
5 – Crop
6 – Resize
7 – Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask
8 – Add Border
9 – Save For Web…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 51


7. “Portrait in the Forest” –

BeforeAfter07

Portrait in the Forest

Challenge Topic: Photographing Photographers (Basic Editing)

Date Taken: October 21st, 2009

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS

Camera Settings: 1/25 sec @ f/4, ISO 100

Story behind the image: I was 7 weeks into the DPC Open PhotoGolf Tournament and also needed a first round entry for the MS Side Tournament. It honestly took me a long time to figure out an idea for this challenge, but once I remembered my mirror ball photo from the previous year, I knew exactly what I was going to do.  This time I went to a different forest.  You may think it’s easy to get a great photo using this ball, but it takes some planning. The three important aspects are the angle you take the photograph at,  the elements on the ground, as well as what environment that appears above the sphere (ie: tree foliage).

Editing Steps:

1 – Open Raw file in Photoshop, Adjust Recovery Slider
2 – Adjustment Layer – Hue/Sat (R+25,Y+29)
3 – Adjustment Layer – Levels (5,115,255)
4 – Adjustment Layer – Curves
5 – Adjustment Layer – Brightness/Contrast (Brightness +15)
6 – Crop
7 – Resize to 640 x 640
8 – Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask
9 – Add Border
10 – Save For Web…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 68


8.  “Squatter’s Delight” –

BeforeAfter08

Squatter's Delight

Challenge Topic: Urban Decay (Advanced Editing)

Date Taken: December 13th, 2009

Equipment Used: Nikon D200, Nikon AF Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G IF-ED DX

Camera Settings: 3.6 sec @ f/8, 0.77 sec @ f/8, 1.6 sec @ f/8, 7.1 sec @ f/8, 13 sec @ f/8, ISO 400

Story behind the image: I had recently been to this abandoned building, so once this challenge came up, I decided to go back. I am very thankful that my friend came with me, as I found this shot, but did not have a wide enough angle to capture it. I borrowed my friends camera and fisheye lens, fixed the settings so that I could bracket 5 photos, and voila! I chose b&w for the final output so that people could spend time exploring the decay, as opposed to being distracted by colours. Despite the fact these photos appear first on the contact sheets below, they were actually the last shots I took that day.

Editing Steps: This photograph is made up of 5 different exposures.

1 – Exposure fusion in photomatix using 5 exposures
2 – Save as a TIFF file and open in Photoshop
3 – Copy the Blue channel and paste into the RGB channel, mask some of the grafitti
4 – Dodge some of the bright spot on the grafitti
5 – Adjustment Layer – Hue/Saturarion
6 – Adjustment Layer – Black & White
7 – Flatten Image
8 – Resize
9 – Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask
10 – Add border
11 – Save for web…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 96


9. “shadows of the past” –

 

BeforeAfter09

shadows of the past

Challenge Topic: In the Style of Nixter (Advanced Editing)

Date Taken: August 30th, 2010

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Camera Settings: 1/100 sec @ f/4, ISO 800

Story behind the image: It took me a while to think of an idea for this challenge. I had seen this bench before on one of my photo walks with my friend. Once I put two and two together, I knew exactly what I wanted to shoot. My family, friend and I went to Buskerfest in Toronto. While we were there, we made a detour to this location. There were 2 people sitting on the bench when I arrived. After a few minutes, 1 person left. I took a few photos from the hip with a stranger on the bench, but that’s not particularly my style. I kindly asked the gentleman if he would mind letting me take a few photos,  so he stood to the side while I took a few photos. I took a few photos with my friend sitting on the bench reading a newspaper, and then a few of just the bench. Thankfully, this frame had a person in the background, and it was an easy choice to enter for the challenge.

Editing Steps:

1 – Open RAW file in Photoshop
2 – Noise Ninja plugin to reduce noise
3 – Slightly rotate the canvas & crop image
4 – Copy the Blue channel and paste it into the RGB channel
5 – Change blending mode of new layer to “Overlay” @ 60%
6 – Create adjustment layer – “Black & White” – adjust sliders
7 – Flatten Image
8 – Clone out “Fire Alarm” on wall above bench
9 – Adjustment Layer “Levels”
10 – Resize Image to 800 pixels
11 – Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask
12 – Add border
13 – Save For Web…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 19


Other Edits considered entering:

10. “port side sunrise”

BeforeAfter10

Port Side Sunrise


Challenge Topic: Pirates (Advanced Editing)

Date Taken: September 18th, 2010

Equipment Used: Canon EOS-5D, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Camera Settings: 1/40 sec @ f/4, 1/160 sec @ f/4, 1/10 sec @ f/4, ISO 100

Story behind the image: I decided I would make a trip to Jordan’s Point to capture a sunrise photo of this Pirate ship. Since I work during the week, Saturday and Sunday were my only options. The weather for Saturday morning was listed as sunny, so I woke up at 5:15 to make the 1 hour drive. As I was arriving on site, the sky was the most wonderful bright yellow. I practically ran from my car down to the water in the darkness so that I would not miss it. After taking photos for about 30 minutes, I was ready to go home. I started to pack up my things, but then the colours in the sky shifted to this wonderful purple. The rest is history.

Editing Steps:

1 – HDR from 3 files using Photomatix. (Using the first RAW file, I saved off 2 more files (+/- 1) so that I now had exposures of -2,-1,0,+1,+2)
2- Copy the Green channel and paste it into the RGB channel
3 – Change blending mode of new layer to “Hard Light” @ 75%
4 – Layer Mask to the new layer bring back some of the details on the boat
5 – Resize Image to 800 pixels
6 – Flatten Image
7 -Unsharp Mask, Unsharp Mask, Fade Unsharp Mask
8 – Add border
9 – Save For Web…

Number of photographs taken for this challenge: 153


Special Thank You goes out to Neil for forwarding all my editing steps which had been sent to Site Council for validation over the years.

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2 Responses to “10 Winning Images – Before & After”

  1. ali says:

    in almost all photos i like BEFORE versions

  2. Jonathan Eger says:

    That’s fair. I’m willing to admit that the editing is a little on the heavy side.