Creative editing of photos in Photoshop

I’ve mentioned before that there is never just one way of editing photos in Photoshop. And, for that matter, there are many ways of editing images without Photoshop. Several software packages are available as standalone versions as well as plug-ins to work within Photoshop.

Here’s an image of a large stationary crane at dusk as part of a shipping port in Montreal. This first image is straight out of the camera … Canon 5DMKII.

shipping dock crane at dusk
Shipping crane on a dock in Montreal at dusk … straight capture with no editing or enhancements. Larry Shapiro photo

I always speak of (or write of) the benefits of RAW file capture instead of or in addition to jpg capture. The next image is from Adobe Camera Raw to enhance the dusk feel with a silhouette and more brilliance in the sky.

shipping dock crane at dusk
Image edited in Adobe Camera Raw to produce a silhouette with a brilliant sky. Larry Shapiro photo

This next image was brought through Adobe Camera Raw into Photoshop and was then tweaked with filters from NIK Color Efex Pro. The rusting steel beams cry out for a real contrasty, grunge type of look. I lightened the foreground and applied the Tonal Contrast filter at full strength. I pumped up the sky and added the Glamour Glow filter which I constrained to the sky area with a graduated layer mask.

shipping dock crane at dusk
Shipping crane edited with NIK Color Efex Pro after coming into Photoshop through Adobe Camera Raw. Larry Shapiro photo

Bypassing Photoshop completely, I brought the RAW file into DXO Labs Optix Pro and used the individual adjustments to arrive at a different interpretation of the same image. Comparing this to the prior silhouette, you’ll find this is crisper and sharper in the edge detail without the glow that was added to the other image. The sky is not as brilliant and maintains a less dramatic transition between colors.

shipping dock crane at dusk
Editing the RAW file with DXO Labs Optix Pro, I created a warmer overall feel with a silhouette. Larry Shapiro photo

The last version that I’m showing here was also created without Photoshop. The OnOne Perfect Photo Suite can be used as a standalone program or as a plug-in for Photoshop (or Adobe Lightroom, Aperature, or Photoshop Elements). The benefit of using the standalone version is that you have access to all of the modules while working on the image without having to go back into Photoshop after using each module.

Here I decided to push the extremes a little with bringing out foreground detail and extentuating the textures and colors of all the steel substructure.

shipping dock crane at dusk
This image was edited in the OnOne Perfect Photo Suite using the Enhance and Effects modules to pull detail from the foreground and create a gritty and contrasty texture to the image. Larry Shapiro photo

Each version shown here came from the same original RAW file and merely touches on the possibilities that exist for creating unique images. Take time and experiment with different effects, different layers, and different programs to unleash your own creativity.