Sometimes I end up with a colour image that I am quite pleased with, but think that it could be improved somewhat, as with this image:-
The idea here is right, it just lacks proper execution of the thought in mind. There are several things wrong here, I should have cropped when shooting to get rid of both the bicycle wheel on the left and the vehicle at the top, it needs straightening to bring the lamp post upright and it sort of lacks contrast. This is as it came out of Camera Raw – I always shoot in RAW, it gives far more versatility in post-processing – and set the overall tone of the image. For the techy minded the settings were:-
Temperature – 4100
Tint – 0
Exposure – 0
Recovery – 100
Fill Light – 40
Blacks – 5
Brightness – +50
Contrast – +45
Clarity – +50
Vibrance – +30
Saturation – +35
But, in my defence, it was raining and I was in my dressing gown.
So, after straightening up I cropped it
making sure that the lamp post was where I wanted it, on the right hand third line of the image.
The next step was noise reduction, as I had upped the ISO to 800 to get a short enough shutter speed to enable me to hand hold.
I don’t normally undertake noise reduction or sharpening until the final steps of post-processing, but in this case I wanted the image right before the B&W conversion.
The next step was sharpening for which I converted the image to Lab color mode, selected the Lightness channel and applied an Unsharp mask with the following settings:-
Radius 50 pixels
then converted back to RGB mode with this result:-
Already this is beginning to look a much better image, all that I wanted to do now was give it more contrast to add a little punch to the image.
The next step was the B&W conversion by adding a Black and White adjustment layer:-
Yes, I know it does nothing at all for the image, which is why I chose to use the High Contrast red filter option for some added punch:-
Well, that is certainly high contrast, in reality just a wee bit too much as the wetness of the ground has got a bit lost in the conversion. But, this is the good thing with using layers for such conversions, you don’t have to stick with either/or settings. I next played around with the opacity of the adjustment layer, as I thought that allowing some of the colour back would bring that wetness back. Moving the slider back and forth I found that 60% opacity worked best for this image:-
All that now remained was to flatten the layers and create the finished image, which I am more than pleased with:-