Since the last few weeks I was having this itch of doing a project like this. Its not something new or out of the box, this kind of stuff has been around for a long time now with lot of photographers and photo groups doing it on a regular basis. I wanted to see how a single photo can be interpreted by different people so I put up the unedited RAW + JPG image of my picture and asked my little list of Facebook friends to post-process in whichever way they like. I though of getting around 20 versions and it exceeded my expected number to 26. Its a good exercise for the people who send their edits as well as the one who reviews all the edits. I hope it will also improve my critique skills. I wish I could say something about every image I received but got busy with other stuff.
Most of them had the same question, Why did I select such a bad image ? Technically it was not the best of a picture to generate much interest but it had the potential of a decent picture after transformation. My edited version is the way I would have shot the image, if I had my regular 24-70 lens on, but in that particular moment I had a fish-eye on the camera and was shooting fishermen unloading their fishing boats on the other side of this scene. So it was an instant turn around and click and back to what I was shooting.
I received 26+ versions from different people. Some even did 2-4 edits on their part. I expected a good number of black and white for this scene as well. Even my first instinct was doing a black and white, but then it doesn't matter much as I do all my images to black & white anyway. But with this image I wanted the sunrise warm tones to pop and people and objects to be just a silhouette.
The image below is the original file, straight from the camera image that was put up to be edited.
Now lets start with the versions I received.
Version 1 by Adam Backer.
This is what Adam had to say about what he thought - "According to me, it must be having some journalistic vale. A simple conversion to B&W, recovering the sky and a bit sharpening is all that is required."
Version 2 by Ajay Neeta Goel.
Version 3 by Ajmal V K.
Basic processing in Lightroom. Cropped, reduced exposure and desaturated.
Version 4 by Alfred Dsouza.
Basic processing in Photoshop with just a few adjustments in Hue/Saturation.
Version 5 by Anu Bhatnagar.
This is what Anu has to say about why and what she did - "I liked the boat and house, most in your original photo , and this one boat had some beautiful calligraphy that caught my eye. I like sepia tones / B&W so again I wanted to explore the mutes tones to bring out the lettering. Besides lots of cropping, sepia and some contrasting, I did not do much editing per se."
(Here I would like to add a critique that if we are concentrating on calligraphy or any text in the image, it is better not to flip the image because that makes it unreadable for anyone that understands the language)
Version 6 by Asad Hashmi.
Very tall crop I would say. Enhancing the clouds would have given more depth.
Version 7 by Bharat Gharawala.
Photoshop, Photomatix and Topaz for this deep saturated image. Personally I like the deep tones in the image.
Version 8 by Cithra Unni.
The washed off retro look with colour overlays.
Version 9 by Firoze Edassery.
Graphic designers as photographers can be a little crazy breed. A very different edit. I only wish the sky had more details in clouds to an otherwise very unique edit.
Version 10 by Hrishikesh Singh.
The ever popular black and white variation again. And few more to come.
Version 11 by Khalil Lamrabet.
Black and white with high contrast and structure.
Version 12 by Kirit Ramaiya.
Another whacky version thats very different from the original. And he calls it 'Reincarnation of a split personality'.
Version 13 by Miraj Mohamed.
The scene totally changes with tones. Warm colours, cool colours or actual colours changes the feel of the image in many ways.
Version 14 by Nishant Niar.
Black and white again but with and interesting crop.
Version 15 by Nithin Mohan.
HDR play here but personally I might not have gone the HDR way for this image. Blending HDR with original image might have been a better edit.
Version 16 by Noman Nasrullah.
Previously we saw a deep tones warm image, this one with cooler tones.
Version 17 by Prabin Bhaskaran.
No cropping with improved exposure and tones to the original image.
Version 18 by Ravi Mansukhlal.
Like most of you who have edited this, Ravi was also not happy with the image. This is what he had to tell me 'Its not a great pic but not bad either. It was overexposed so whatever edits are done have been to bring life into the sky and foreground trash which is very prominent.'
Version 19 by Reggie Appings.
He liked the wide angle… Cropped it to give a cinemascope effect and tweaking to improve exposure and colours.
Version 20 by Saji Antony.
This is the version that is the closest to my version with crop and distortion corrected, with a different colour toning.
Version 21 by Shad Abdul Shukoor.
Somewhat hi-key look. Details are beautifully enhanced. Possibly more details in the sky would have added more drama to this edit.
Version 22 by Taha Mohammed.
Minimalistic edit, very close to the original image with better cropping.
Version 23 by Vidhya Krishnan.
She doesn't like cropping as she believes in framing it in the camera. But had to crop it because I handed over an image that needed a lot to do.
Version 24 by Vineet Suthan.
Vineet shares the complete details of his post processing.
- The first thing that came to my mind was to remove unwanted items and concentrate on the main subject-Cropping is needed.
- Secondly bring out the details in the sky.
- Change the color tone.
- Made sure the Raw File is 16 Bit file
- Firstly i cropped the photographer who was in the scene and then decided i go for Square Crop in PS
- Then cleaned the rubbish on the foreground
- Then Used the Level Adjustment to bring details in the sky
- Used the Nik Silver Efex 2 to change BW
- Used curves layer
- Then used Nik Color efex to change the tone to Blue
- Topaz de-noise to soften
- Nik Sharpner to sharpen the picture
Version 25 by Walaa Mohamed.
She said, 'I thought of a silhouette since the light is coming bright from the background .. and i kept the guy who's standing there on the right because I liked the feeling of near and far and maybe its keeping the balance in the photo.'
Version 26, My version.
This is everything opposite of what I generally do with most of my images. I love bluish cold tones to my images but I went for warmth of sunrise here. I love black and whites a lot and I do have that version but colour does more justice to what I wanted to see in the image. My second love, flares. It was not enough in the original shot so added lens flare.
I made a video of the way I processed my image, as I thought it would be helpful for those who want to know how I got my version. Its better than typing it all out. Visual is always good to give a better idea of the process. I forgot to talk through the whole video of what exactly I was doing and even when I talk its more like murmuring to myself but I hope that will improve if I keep making more of such videos. I hate my voice but anyway I have to improvise, and for improvement you need to keep trying. So here is my run down on the image. Press play to see the time spent and steps I did for my edit.
25 images was indeed a good chunk of images to look at, and one major thing that I noticed is that most of them did not do anything about the distortion due to fish-eye. It doesn't take away anything from the image but as that was the first thing I did to the image while editing it caught my eye. The two fisherman were the main elements of the frame which we can see in most of the edits except Anu who looked around to the surrounding and loved the boat. Walaa also had a second version of just the foreground to make it an abstract image. Many friends here sent multiple edits but I selected just 1 version to maintain the flow. Lot of different colours can also be seen in the 26 versions posted above from warm to cool, saturated to desaturated, black and white, sepia and cyanotype. Plus some out of the box edits from Firoze and Kirit that totally changes the interpretation of the image.
Getting it right in the camera is always the best option, so in purist eyes, this image might belong to their rejected lot but I wanted to look at post-processing and how much it can recover or enhance an otherwise bad image. This was indeed a good exercise to see different visions and tastes of different people. They say life never gives you a second chance but some images do need a second chance to be something better.
I would like to thank everyone who volunteered for my little project and sparing time for editing the image. Maybe I will try the same thing again with a new subject and a better image. Keep the inspiration going, see you in the next post. Ciao!