I posted my previous “Before and After editing” blog post three months ago. A lot has changed in my editing techniques since the last post. I have started using Adobe Photoshop more in my editing to transform the photos to a whole another dimension. Sometimes literally. Not all the photos posted on my Instagram are edited with this drastic edits, some are even with some very simple touch ups and light, contrast and tone correction (not forgetting about tiny distraction removal). But in this blog post I am showing how I can create art from my photos. The biggest difference between the before and after to show the possibilities of photo editing software (and maybe inspire you as well!). Beside each edit I will mention what I did and which apps I used for the edit.
The 10 before and after editing photos I chose to show you
You can use the slider to reveal the before and after of each of these photos. The photos are interactive so that you would be able to compare the photos more easily! Let my edits inspire you to try something similar in Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and PicsArt. Feel free to visit my Instagram to find all of these photos already posted.
The very first photo in my gallery that I captured this year outdoors! Boy, how excited I was to see this beautiful sunlight shining from behind this plant.
For this edit I started in Adobe Lightroom and tried on some presets to get the starting look. I made the photo more colorful by adding radial gradients all around the sides to bring more color in and accent the plant more. I had to get rid of the blue in the sky separately as it didn’t transform to orange as easily as the green color. I’ve also gotten rid of all the dark areas on the sides of the photo with linear gradients and with healing tool. For the final touches I opened the photo in Adobe Photoshop to tweak the surrounding colors more and add some bokeh and light overlays.
This photo had been in my Lightroom “To-do” folder for a while, and I tried many different edits, but none felt good enough. I left the photo and returned to it a week later to realize that one of the edits I saved in the versions (a feature in Lightroom that I love) actually looks as a great starting point. By tweaking the edit I ended up with tones I was really satisfied with.
Most of the changes were done in Lightroom: changing the flower color to orange, and background to something between green and blue. I also removed most of the distractions in Lightroom. Afterwards I edited the photo in Adobe Photoshop – I added the light, softened and blurred the background and added the magical floating dust above the photo. It was challenging to have the background nicely smooth without banding occurring in the gradiented areas.
This poppy capture has been waiting to be posted for quite some time. I captured it on June 2020, and edited it soon afterwards. But it was too late to squeeze it in my almost-ending red theme since there were no other photos scheduled with such dark background. Almost a year passed for it to reach my gallery.
The edit was done in Adobe Lightroom to alter the tones, add contrast and clarity, as well as add the dark blue-ish hue to the background. Afterwards I used PicsArt to add the soft red blur in the foreground. Editing tip! There are two ways such red blurred overlays can be achieved. One is by adding an overlay that’s just soft red light. Another one is by adding the same photo as an overlay and blurring it. Then masking it, so that only the flower (or part of the red flower) is visible, and finally – enlarging the flower to place it in the preferred location, as if it was in the foreground. I finished the edit by adding floating dust overlay on top, using PicsArt. Tap here to open a tutorial on applying overlays with PicsArt.
I captured it on December 2nd on a late Autumn walk. The Sun was out just enough to light up the background, and I immediately knew it will make a great photo.
I edited this photo with Adobe Lightroom. Thanks to me photographing in RAW, I was able to bring down the highlights and bring up the shadows, therefore creating a higher dynamic range. I toned the yellows to orange therefore making the scenery to look like a sunset scene. By using selective editing, I was able to brighten up and colorize only the cone itself. After Lightroom I used PicsArt to add a little bit of bokeh in the background.
Some people would think that the best choice always is to post the edit as it came out of the camera. But in cases like this – when the contrast is too huge – the original just isn’t pleasing to the eye at all.
I captured this photo in a greenhouse full of crocuses while everything outside was still covered in snow, and there was no sign of flowers.
Yes, I know, the original color looks so gorgeous, why did I change it to red!? 👀 Because I wanted something more interesting than the usual purple crocuses. I wanted something more magical, more surreal. And I think I achieved it.
I did some basic tone, exposure and contrast touch-ups in Adobe Lightroom and straight away transferred the photo to Adobe Photoshop. Then the whole work started. Using layer masks I changed the color of the flowers from purple to red. Then I removed all the distractions from the background and foreground and blurred the background behind the flowers. Finally I added a little bit of bokeh behind the flowers and some soft light in the top of the frame. I finished the edit with red blurred accents in the foreground.
Comparing to other photos in this blog post – this photo was edited only using one application – Adobe Lightroom. I cycled through some presets to find a suitable starting point. Remember a thing about presets: they rarely give out a result that you can use as a finished edit. Most of the times you have to tweak them, remove some edits or add something to make the photo look great. After choosing the preset I change it to my liking to have the flowers dark enough, but not too dark. I used selective editing to accent the bee, add contrast and make it “pop” out of the frame. I used healing brush tool to remove the distractions in the background. Finally I added a little bit of vignette, and the edit was ready.
This beautiful Spring crocus capture was taken this spring, not even a month ago. There was a gorgeous sunlight, lighting up the background while the flowers were in the shadow. That is the best set-up to have a background that “glows” and make your subject contrast on it better.
I used Adobe Lightroom to brighten up the scenery. By using HSL tool I accented the blues in the flower and separated them from the purples. I wanted to accent this dual-color even more. By using selective editing I drifted the tones to even bluer and even more purple with the hue slider. I also removed the distractions in the photo before transferring it to Adobe Photoshop.
Since I captured the photo horizontally – there was no way to crop it to 4:5 aspect ratio without cutting off some of the flowers. That’s why by using Photoshop I expanded the frame. If you want to learn how to expand photos, read “Try These Tools to Recover and Fix Photos” blog post. After expanding the photo, I used object selection, lasso and masking tool to select the flowers and separate them from the background. With the flowers in a separate layer – I was able to soften the background without softening the flowers. To finish the edit, I added some bokeh overlays and light coming into the frame.
A very recent anemone capture (taken last Sunday). I edited it right away as I was running out of photos for my purple theme. Since the background was not very blurred, it was a challenging photo to edit.
Firstly I used Adobe Lightroom to brighten up the photo and change the hues. I changed the grass to more yellow, as well as the flower – to more purple. Then I transferred it to Adobe photoshop. From there I masked the flower and copied it to a new layer. I used content aware fill to remove the flower from the background layer. Then I expanded the frame. That helped me place the flower in the frame in such way that it follows the rule of thirds. With my background clear and ready to go, I used a feature I recently discovered in Adobe Photoshop – puppet warp. It allows me to change how an object bends.
There’s another big thing I did for this edit. I took a flower from another photo I captured – and used it as an overlay. The flower got masked and placed in a separate layer. I used lens blur multiple times to make the flower appear as if it was out of focus. For the foreground flower I also used other blurring methods to blur it even more. Finally I added some bokeh and light in the photo.
First I loaded 2-4 (honestly I don’t remember the count, sorry :)) photos in Adobe Photoshop and focus stacked the images. With a photo with focus on each of the crocuses, I ended up with a photo where both of the flowers are in focus. Then I edited the photo in Lightroom to give the flowers the pink hue and change the overall mood.
I continued again in Adobe Photoshop by masking the flowers and separating them from the background. I used multiple layers. The background in one, each flower in their own separate layers, and the grass – in another one. This helped me to change the distance between the flowers, and to bend them differently, using the Puppet Warp feature. I blurred the background using gaussian blur and I’ve also added more crocuses in the background. The crocuses have also changed their location within the frame. As a final touch I added some soft colorful bokeh and some light on top left corner.
For these Autumn crocuses recently shared in my Instagram I used a new editing tactic I haven’t previously used. The final result is composed of elements from two different images.
First I edited the photo in Adobe Lightroom. As I was happy with the tones, I duplicated the edit on the other photo. That way the tones are the same on both of them.
Then in Adobe Photoshop I used object selection and masking tool to separate the flower in a new layer. I added another crocus from a different photo to accompany the lonely flower. Afterwards I content aware filled the area on the background where the flower was. That got me a clear background that then I blurred using Gaussian blur.
After composing both flowers within the frame, I added soft colorful overlays and soft light in the frame. A little bit of bokeh overlays freshens up the backgrond. The finishing touch was the magical dust overlays emerging from both flowers.
Here you can take a look at both photos after editing the tones in Lightroom:
For the edit I cropped out the small flower from the second photo. Then I placed in the first photo to accompany the alone flower 🙂
Comparing to my previous Before and After blog post, Adobe Photoshop has been included in my edits much more often. If you already haven’t noticed, I tend to include the apps used to edit a photo in my post’s description.
So much can be done with Adobe Photoshop. I believe I have only touched the surface of everything I could do. Content aware fill, masking, using object selection tool, separating objects within multiple layers and puppet warp are the the big tools I use in my photos. If you have not yet used some of them, feel free to give them a try. Some of the mentioned Adobe Photoshop features have been described on my recent blog post Try These Tools to Recover and Fix Photos.