Improving my old pictures through photo editing

Photography is a skill that requires many years of practice to improve the visual art, or even a lifetime to master the art of seeing. The art of seeing is the most important factor to master in photography, rather than the type of medium one is using to take pictures.

Editing has become a very important work process after i had finished my photo assignment. Uploading the pictures into the computer. I am relaxing in my environment, able to have a clear view on how my pictures are like in detail on a large screen.

Recently i was browsing at the Hong Kong images i capture in 2009. Oh yeah, it has been a really long time. I realize many of the pictures weren’t to my standard anymore. However, i see the hidden potential to improve my old pictures through better photo editing skills that i learned over the years – with the help of Lightroom, a brilliant software to make digital photography editing easier. More importantly, i am able to see how to make my old pictures look even better than before.

The following will be a series of pictures that i have made an improvement using Lightroom only. I am going to highlight some images of the before and after, sharing some technical editing process on how and why i adjusted it.

BeforeAfterI dislikes how the lines were converging. So i adjusted the scene to be more properly vertical. Is more pleasing to the eyes as well.

Major distortion in this Hong Kong styled old building picture. Despite making the vertical adjustment, the top of the building was cut off. Keeping the building straight is my way of photography in the last few years. The original colors were pale, so i improve the colors saturation in minimum. The decision to edit this image is because of the unique facade. This was also the first building i capture in Hong Kong

BeforeAfterImproving on the contrast, saturation, and clarity in this image. I want to clearly see the reflection of the buildings from the tram glass panel. If this picture is printed in a bigger size, you will also be able to clearly see the tram driver too.

Basically, i love how the red cloth and signage is placed in the picture. I like it symmetrical style that time. The picture before was not straight for my liking, i need to make an adjustment to make the scene balanced. Also, increase the contrast a bit more to make the red color more punchy

BeforeAfterTaken in the mid afternoon, the entrance to Tai O village was in shade because of the cloud coverage. Is not possible to have a balanced exposure in the front and back due to the lighting condition in the camera. The entrance was distorted and corrected. I really like this scene because of the fishing village style, and the welcome sign to invite the visitors, this is a very nice tourism touch to it.

BeforeAfterIn this scenic view of Tai O fishing village. I have adjusted the perspective, increase the blue and orange colors to make the scene a bit more eye catching, also slightly increase the shadow to see more details. Increase blue sky by +45

BeforeAfterReduced the highlight to -100 so the sky would not be flat out, as least i can see some layers of cloud. Increase the saturation a bit more to bring out the overall dull colors.

The statues were hidden in shadow in the original picture because of the sun position. The picture was slightly distorted. Colors were pale. By increasing the shadow i am able to see more of the sculptures, the red colors is more stand out as well.

BeforeAfterAdjusted the temple entrance to be vertically straight, increase contrast and saturation. Pull out a bit more blue color from the sky as well. But if you over do it in pulling out the colors, image noise will be very obvious.

Pull out the shadow from the under exposed area, increase yellow to bring out the shine from the sculptures. Next, i import the picture to Photoshop to fix the pagoda distortion due to the wide angle.

Basically to make the scene a bit more saturated. Over the years i saw many beginners would edit their landscape scene in over-saturation, such result is awful and not realistic. 

BeforeAfterFor this night scene, i was using a wide angle of 24mm to take picture of Victoria Harbor, but it was distorted, the horizon was slanted, i lose a bit of sharpness due to the strong wind for the season. Vertical perspective was shifted, rotate the scene to make the horizon straight. Increase sharpness and reduce noise. I also increase a bit of saturation to make it more vibrant.

In order to improve your editing in photography, not only you have to shoot in the subject that you are passionate in. You also need to practice the editing as many times as possible till you are so good at it. It would be great to invest in a good monitor for your picture editing if you do not have one.

I also provide photo editing service to turn your not-so-fantastic picture into a good one, provided i see there is the potential to do it.

If you are not sure whether are you doing it correctly? Or you need help with your old travel pictures editing. You can always drop me an email for advice.

If you like this post do support me with a “like”, share my post to people who love taking pictures of cats. Feel free to leave a comment below as well. I would love to interact with you. Or ya subscribe to my blog too!



Photography project for your weekend

Are you running out of idea for what kind picture to take over the weekend? Or not quite clear what theme or subjects to work on?

Especially if you are new to photography, it will be quite a mess to shoot anything and everything with a clear goal. Photography is not about shooting everything in your path. Photography is about making pictures that has meaning to you, mapping a memory, or creating wonderful art and so on.

So, if you have run out of idea, here i am going to suggest to you a theme for you to work on. At least you can be focus in a theme i am going to share with you. Ready?

Photograph Red colour.

Anything, that is related to red color, capture it.

Red been a bright, outstanding color that can be easily differentiated from the environment. Very enticing, easy to spot.

It doesn’t matter what type of medium you are using. If you don’t have a DSLR, use a camera phone, if you have an old compact camera – by all mean take it out and use it (make sure you full charge your battery). If you have the love for film, you can try using a different type of film grade to shoot red colour.

Some pre-visualize scenes i had in mind for you to photograph for the weekend.

people on the streets wearing red clothes
a red umbrella opens up
a red chili or tomatoes
a red traffic light
a red signboard
red door/wall

Imagine all the unlimited possibilities you can discover, the excitement to go out and seek new pictures may leads to something even better.

This is a technique to train your eye to spot a specific subject out there. Over time you will be able to see the surrounding differently from other people.

Sharing some pictures example below, these are some of the images i have captured in work and travel. See the endless possibility!

If you want to be more inspired. Browse through my photography website to find more of my red colour images. Is also a part of training too. ;}

Wish your a really amazing weekend. I look forward to see your pictures.

If you like this photography tips do support me with a “like”, share this post to people who love taking pictures of cats. Feel free to leave a comment below as well as i would love to interact with you. Or ya subscribe to my photography blog too!

Thaipusam Festival in Singapore – Part 2

The previous post mentioned about the date, what to see and some Thaipusam festival images i capture back in 2011.

There are questions from friends asking about what equipment to bring, is female allowed inside the temple, what to wear, what to shoot etc. Hence i would share my own personal experience with everyone.

Before i move on, this write-up is mainly for beginners and amateur photographers who are new to this arena. I hope through my experience it will able to give you some ideas what to expect.

1) Equipment – It depends what type of subject you are shooting, for a Thaipusam Festival i bring along a 24-70 to have a decent coverage from wide to medium. A 50mm F/1.4 lens to shoot during low light situation, a 90mm marco lens to shoot portrait and close-up. If you have the strength to carry 1 more, that would be a telephoto lens where most people use it to capture the moments.

A wide angle would come into good use when a “large-moving event” happen.This is a good color contrast of the, at the same time an event is happening. The yellow pedals thrown onto the air added an dynamic moment.

2) Female visitors are allowed in the temple, but all visitors are required to remove their footwear when roaming inside the temple. I suggest bring a plastic bag to put your shoes in and bring it along with you. You wouldn’t want your shoes to be bury underneath after deciding to leave the temple. Dressing should be respectful, no revealing clothing to cause any disrespect, applies to all religion.

Female devotees

3) What to shoot – This is the part where most people are interested. After you have your equipment gear up, the next step is to start taking interesting pictures. What you see is what you capture through your lens. Before that something must be able to catch your attention. What is the scene that instantly attracts your eye?

A successful photograph lie on various elements of design. The elements that bring order to photographic composition are line, form, shape, texture, pattern, and color. Whether a successful picture needs to contain at least one, or several of these elements, in regardless of the type of subject one is shooting. Keep practicing such techniques will eventually be a 2nd natural to your instinct. Hence building a more solid foundation before moving on to advance composition.

However am not going to touch on all the elements, i will use my Thaipusam festival images to relate my own style of photography during the documentation process, and what you are going to experience.

This was an intense moment to see various hooks pierce through the skin of the devotee. I waited for the moment to capture the expression and the process. Deliberately cropping the background through the lens to show the various legs, hiding the identities.

Here is one of the piercing process using a thin metal rod through the cheeks. The 2 men beside was chanting loudly to take away the devotee’s attention.

There are many opportunities of shooting portraiture. One only need to ask permission to get the devotee to look into your camera. Have an idea and composition in mind. Shoot it quickly, smile and say thank you before moving on.

This is a good example of patterns and lines. You can choose to either do a close up of the limes or a half length body image. Depending what you want to show.

If human nature is not one of your favorite subject to work with. There are still other photo opportunities for you to capture. Such as the detail of the items used for rituals, the design of the various kavadis.

Light is the most important, yet fundamental element of good photographs. The magic of light during the break of morning is not to be miss. The delightful orange glow creates a better picture chance. During the shooting process, the direction of light and the ongoing event is crucial.

See how the orange light gives a gentle lift on the capture subjects.

A beautiful light 45 degree from the rear lights up my portraiture

I hope the tips are helpful to achieve your result and improve your photography skill. If you are keen to meet up or guidance on that day do drop me a note here.

Venue: Starting from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple along Serangoon Road, there will be a 4.5km walk for the devotees to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road.