Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Thought Process: Not So Grey

And a before/after... Extreme editing!

Since posting this image I have had quite a few questions from people asking me for editing tips and advice on how to do things.
Now I know editing is something which takes a lot of time and skill and practice, and it's something I'm still learning and getting better at, but I think what makes for a most successful edit is having a vision and knowing what you want to do to that image - and that's something you cannot teach.

But here goes anyway.

Here is my editing thought process for this image, "Not So Grey" and what I did to it summarized underneath.

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This is the "before" image -
As you can see there are no birds etc but it did make for a lovely portrait, the look on Jade's face is enigmatic and I loved what she was doing with her hands and posture. I didn't, however enjoy the greenery behind her - I find with portraits, unless something really adds to the colour or composition, it's usually more pleasing to my eye when the background is simple or minimalistic.

Regardless, I didn't intend to do much with this image other than make it a nice "extra" portrait for her set, so I cut out some of the birds from other shots and posted them in:

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I loved how this was beginning to look, but I then encountered another problem - friction!!! The birds were completely cluttering up the shot and the greenery in the background wasn't helping. That's when I decided to take Jade & the birds and put them onto another shot I'd taken of the background from a different angle:

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I preferred this massively, and about 2 1/2 hrs of editing had passed so it was at this point I decided to go whole-hog and make it into a full portfolio piece for flickr. The crop here is okay, but it's tight and leaves nothing else for the viewer to imagine. Making it a square crop with lot's of empty space gives room for someone to think that Jade is stood completely alone with only birds around her - in this crop you can imagine people walking by just out of frame, and that's not the atmosphere I wanted to create.

I cleaned up the background, added in a couple more pigeons and went ahead to make the sq crop.

The way I do this is:

Image>Canvas size>(alter to sq dimensions)>Flatten.
I took the same image of the background I'd used to move Jade onto and using transform tools, layering and erasing I blended the image together.

Colour is always last for me, and at first I played with this set of colours:

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Which was nice, but I still wasn't 100% sure. I felt lighter that day and I wanted to make the image warmer and a little more heavenly, so I ended up with

Not So Grey

Which I was happy with!

So there we go, an unexpected portfolio place while editing without limits. Skill can take you places that's for sure, but it's no good if you look at an image in a certain way and don't look for the full potential.
Hopefully this blog post will help anyone who's stuck with dodgy greenery and no pigeons see that you can always transform it into an incredible moment, and that the moment still counts - maybe even more so, because it's yours!

Signing off for now,


  1. well..you're magnificent!! xox

  2. Awesome! One question: did you add movement to the hair by creating a new layer, using Liquify to make it jump and then and masking it into the original portrait layer?

  3. Wonderful. Yes, great job with the hair - curious about that myself! I find hair is one of the most difficult things for me when it comes to editing.

  4. how did u do the hair?

  5. It's great! I would really like to know how you did the hair (like the other people want to know too haha). Love the result.

  6. Wow i'm such an a**

    Rosie, Love the edit and the birds and was shock to see the result to be that way, your truly amazing, now how did you do the hair?

  7. dito @ LJ! would like to know it as well :)
    great job rosie! such a simple photo, such a great outcome xx

  8. Me too on the hair? Was it from another shot from the same shoot? Also, where are you posting these, please? I don't see you on Flickr, or do I? I'll go check again...

  9. Searched Flickr, found you, made you a contact, but it says you have nothing available for me? Is that true, Rosie? May I please get a password to your posts? I love them.

  10. of course - I as well want to know all about the hair =)) I guess you'll have to do a whole separate entry just about the hair =)
    Thanks so much for this Rosie!!

  11. rosie, your pictures are beautiful! i love your edits. :D

  12. To Shelley Noble:


    Just go there. You don't have to be a contact to view Rosie's public images on Flickr.

    BTW, from your post:

    "...but it says you have nothing available for me? Is that true, Rosie?"

    Is it me or is that a strangely weird question.

  13. P.S. Thanks to Rosie for all the time she spends (that I'm sure she doesn't really have) sharing so much with others. Getting tired of the whiny, unappreciative, and entitled-feeling people who post strange things to Rosie (and others) online.

  14. Thank you, Rosie ! It helps a lot! I used to asked about it but people didn't reply. Now, this entry is really inspiring me !

  15. It is a really nice picture, the end result, and you rock in photoshop.

    But how do you feel with the fact that, as a photographer, you did not really.. take that picture? you created it, and used only your pictures but you did not take that specific, final image.

    I have a hard time with using photoshop to much, I like editing and there's so much you can do but I still want to be proud of my pictures cause I saw stuff, caught it on image, took the picture - not created it.

    hard to express what I mean but.. maybe you understand? ^^ what's your feeling in this matter?

  16. How amazingly kind of you to share this editing procedure with others. You and your fellow photographers do not cease to amaze me with your generosity! I love the last comment because as an escapist and non-photographer I like the idea of dealing with dodgy greenery and lack of pigeons most of all. That is sure to bring a smile to my face when I'm next in the city :)

  17. Can you make a post about light balls? I always make my pictures with GIMP, too, but I don't know how can I do that. I read about it, but I need to see it in steps. So if you have enough time for this, please!!!:))
    Have a nice day! And of course I love this PICTURE! And editing:) Keep doing this!

  18. Thank you very much for the inspiration. this really inspired me that I can do basically anything with my images and my only limit is my imagination. I am not that great in Photoshop but I am familiar with how to use layers and I believe I am in a very close edge to become much better now. Thank you for inspiring with this post!

  19. this is sooooo cool! thank you for showing us all pictures and the final one is simply perfect!!

  20. i think it's phenomenal!!



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  22. It's gorgeous, it was the shot that made me want to investigate your work further and visit your blog, and the shot I'd like to show on my blog.

    As someone who sits into the wee small hours fiddling with photoshop options and not always making a good final decision I'm impressed by your great judgement about what works, your eye for these things is clearly spot on.

  23. Re. Rania's comment.

    Rania, I understand what you are saying but I think that working in Photoshop is simply using an additional tool to express your creativity and view of the world. When you manipulate a camera to create the right focus, the best shutter speed etc. you are altering the picture in front of you to make something that better reflects the way you see that image, which may be very different from how others see it. In doing so you also reveal something about yourself, the person on the other side of the camera.

    Using Photoshop is just an extension of that process, it lets you focus in on what interested you, but more importantly, lets you reflect more about yourself.

    In this photo Rosie was drawn to Jade's expression and hand movements, and by reworking the image in photoshop she more clearly draws the viewers attention to those aspects and at the same time expresses beautifully how her own feelings and mood that have changed in the last week.

    There's nothing so satisfying as taking a picture that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of a moment as well as a reflection of your own feelings, with no need to edit. But weather, backgrounds, time and other factors mean that isn't always possibly, particularly when you are trying to portray something very atmospheric. For me there is definitely a place for the expression of the photographer through whatever means.

    Camera lenses, filters, different films and setting options gave back the ability for artistic expression that was lost to so many people when photography took over from painting as the primary way people captured an image. Photoshop gives it back more, but without getting paint on your clothes. I think each process has it's own merits and all are equally valid.

    I love this photo. If I was Jade I'd be thrilled and treasure it forever. Rosie has created a gorgeous portrait full of life and emotion and seeing has made my day better.

  24. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain how you manipulate your photos to get amazing outcomes. It's so helpful and I'm definitely inspired to pick up my camera and start shooting!