Before and After

Mixing Filters and Styles on your image

Mixing Filters and Styles on your image

For me Lightroom is my first port of call when processing an image.  I like its simplicity, its versatility and for me the easiest post processing software to use. My main aim of using Photoshop is to remove elements that you can’t remove in Lightroom.


The above photograph was created by using Lightroom’s HDR feature.  Once the HDR image was created I immediately sent the image to Photoshop to remove some of the distractions, mainly the people standing just above the water cascade.

This was done easily in Photoshop using the Spot Healing Tool.. I could have sent the photograph back into Lightroom but I wanted to use some filters I have the first Filter I used was Nik Collection Color Efex Pro.


I wanted to warm the photograph up so in the Nik Software I used two filters one a Warmth Filter and the second a Soft Focus Filter.  I then saved my image in Nik and it was Imported back into Photoshop.  Using a mask I faintly removed this filter from the steps of the water cascade.  I didn’t like the sky so it was off to Topaz Texture Effects 2 to add a Preset I downloaded.


Again this gave my photograph a warm look and once again I removed the Filter effect slightly from the steps of the water cascade.  I did no more in Photoshop so I saved my image in Photoshop and it was automatically sent back into Lightroom.  And this was the image I was going to use for all of my compositions.

I have a few presets in Lightroom which I use on a regular basis… some I have altered to suit my style of editing… others I just use as a starting point.

My first composition was to create a warm looking photograph

Water Cascade

I liked the golden tones and the green and how soft those weeping willows were.  In Lightroom I then created a virtual copy of this photograph, reset the image back to the original import and then added a warmer looking Preset which added a reddish tint to the image which created my second composition.

For my third composition, I then did the same as before… made a virtual copy.. reset the image in the Develop Module and then added a Preset I modified from an original Preset from Serge Ramelli where it involved using lots of radial filters to add lights to the photograph.

This gave the image a dreamy like effect to the image.  For my fourth and last composition I then decided to use a Preset which I use primarily as a starting point for Black and White Photos.

Throughout my processing of this photograph I wanted to keep a soft looking feel to the trees whilst keeping clarity to the water cascade and the elements that were in the water.

You don’t have to stick to one filter… you can mix and match.. and I love the versatility of all these Filters/Plugins.  If it wasn’t for having to use Photoshop to remove certain elements, I could have processed this photo by only using Lightroom and Topaz Labs Software and Nik Collection Software work both in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Mix and match is the order of the day for me today… I have loved using these software programmes with each other.  And if you don’t like what one programme has done.. and you are using Photoshop just duplicate your final image layer and try another combination of the various presets within each plugin/filter.

Just one little tip.. normally in Photoshop once I have finished my spot removal which I do on a duplicate of the original image.. I then press Control + Alt + Shit +E which merges all my previous layers together.  It is this new layer, that I have just created, that I duplicate before applying a Preset/Filter and once I have created my new duplicate layer for that particular plugin I name the layer to tell me which Plugin/Filter I used.  I didn’t do it for this image simply because I knew that I was definitely using the soft focus from the Nik Collection to create the soft dreamy look to the image.

Posted by Bren in Before and After, Landscape, Photography, 3 comments
The power of texture

The power of texture

A photograph of one of the paths that winds through the estate at Nymans in West Sussex

A photograph of one of the paths that winds through the estate at Nymans in West Sussex


It was cold, it was murky and the sky was absolutely dreadful.. it was dismal and there wasn’t any clouds that gave drama to the sky… but even with the sky as dismal as it was.. I still liked the photo… so what do I do with it?  Of course, at a texture and use Topaz Texture Effects 2 to create the sky I wanted.  Here is my processing technique for this photograph..

  • Opened image in Lightroom,
  • Exported Image to Photoshop
  • Removed lone twig in sky with spot removal
  • Removed object in the middle of the path
  • Tided up image with spot removal tool
  • Filled in the path so it was all shingle looking.
  • Duplicated Layer and changed blending mode Overlay 50% Opacity
  • Added a Colour Lookup Adjustment Layer
  • Added a Hue and Saturation Layer and played around with the colours to enhance the fall colours.
  • Edited the Photo in Topaz Texture Effects and added a texture to the sky.
  • Saved image back into Lightroom
  • Added a Preset which added many little lights created by radial filters, to the photograph
  • Deleted the radial filters I did not want
  • Used the Local Adjustment Brush to add adjustments to the trees and add a blue tint to the sky.
  • Auto straightened the photo
  • Played around with basic settings
  • Added gradient filters to the top and sides, which decreased the brightness and added a coloured tone to them.
  • Added gradient filter to lighten the bottom of the photograph.
  • Exported to hard drive.

Here is the image SOOC



Posted by Bren in Before and After, Landscape, Photography, 2 comments
Topaz Texture Effects Comparison – SOOC -vs – Lightroom Basic Adjustments

Topaz Texture Effects Comparison – SOOC -vs – Lightroom Basic Adjustments

Well today is day 6 of my Topaz Texture Effects ‘trial before buy’ challenge.  So for this challenge I thought I would do a complete comparison of using Lightroom and Topaz Effects and just using Topaz Effects.

This is the image I started out with… which was taken at Inveruglas on the edge of Loch Lomond in Scotland.



Topaz Texture Effects 2 Processing Technique


 Step 1 – Basic Adjustment Layer
  • Open image in Lightroom and Edited In Topaz Texture Effects without any Lightroom Adjustments using the SOOC image.
  • Add Basic Adjustment Layer – adjusted sliders.




Step 2 – Added Texture Adjustment
  • Using one of my own textures I added a brown/cream tinted texture




  • Enabled Masking and used the luminosity masking option




Step 3 – Added Blue Texture to Water
  • Added blue texture



  • Enabled masking and used luminosity masking





Step 3 – Added Vignette
  • Added a vignette using these settings





Step 4 Added a Basic Adjustment
  • Added a basic adjustment for Toning with these settings





Step 5 – Added a Basic Adjustment for Dodging
  • Added a basic adjustment for dodging using these settings




  • Enabled masking and inverted mask  and used the brush tool and altered the settings as I made my brush strokes.


Step 6 – Added Basic Adjustment for Burning
  • Added a basic adjustment for burning using these settings





Step 7 – Added Split Toning Adjustment
  • Added split toning using these settings





Step 8 – Dust and Scratches Adjustment
  • Added a dust and scratches layer to the whole image



  • Enabled Luminosity masking using these settings.




Step 9 – Created my own Preset.

  • I created my own preset for these settings by clicking Save so that I could use this preset again.

SOOC/Topaz Effects -vs- Lightroom Basic Adjustments/Topaz Texture Effects 2


I wanted to try the same processing technique using the same image but doing basic Lightroom adjustments  before editing in Topaz Effects.  And here is the result.




SOOC/Topaz Texture Effects 2 and Lightroom Basic Adjustments/Topaz Texture Effects  – Final Lightroom Edits


I wanted to also do a comparison of both images (SOOC and Lightroom basic edits) with added Lightroom Adjustments after Processing in Topaz Texture Effects 2 using the same Topaz Texture Effects 2 processing method as above.





On a personal note I love Topaz Texture Effects 2 for adding a texture to your photographs .. it is easy, fast and a versatile piece of software.  Excellent results can be achieved by either SOOC images or images that have had basic Lightroom/Photoshop/Camera Raw edits.  For me I do prefer to do some initial adjustments in Lightroom, before editing in Topaz Texture Effects 2.   And irrespective of whether I am in Lightroom or Photoshop… for adding textures to my photographs in the future, I will definitely be using Topaz Texture Effects 2 as I find this software achieves great results with ease of use.

I do hope this appraisal has helped you in some way and I think Topaz Texture Effects is a great addition to your software bundle.


Posted by Bren in Before and After, Photography, Tutorials, 0 comments
Apricot Roses

Apricot Roses

Apricot Roses IMG_6709-Framed

One of the things I love about photography is post-processing… and taking photos to a whole new dimension.  Lately I have been experimenting using Photoshop… which I am slowly becoming conversant with.

The above image started out… being rather bland and lacking colour.


And I wanted to make those roses more apricot in colour… so below is my processing techniques.

Lightroom Part 1

Spot Removal Tool

  • Spot removal on some blemishes of the roses..

Camera Calibration

  • Camera profile set to Camera Landscape

Basic Panel

  • Exposure lowered to -0.71
  • Contrast increased to +24
  • Highlights lowered to -52
  • Shadows increased to +38
  • Whites increased to +29
  • Blacks lowered to -38
  • Clarity set to +31

Details Panel

  • Sharpening set to 102
  • Edge Masking set to 76
  • Luminance Smoothing set to 12

Edited in Photoshop as a smart object



Lightroom Part 1



  • Added a gradient Fill Layer black to white – Soft Light blending mode and opacity set at 30%.
  • Created new layer, filled with white and added a cloud difference filter – Soft light blending mode and opacity set at 37% – layer mask created and using a soft brush (black) set at 82% opacity brushed over the roses – to remove the cloud difference from the roses.
  • Created a Colour Adjustment Layer and used an orange colour  – Colour blending mode used and an opacity of 53%
  • Saved image – which resulted in image being re-imported back into Lightroom.





Lightroom Part 2

Radial Filter

  • Added a radial filter and to create a vignette played around with the sliders until I achieved what I wanted.

Crop Tool

  • Cropped image so that the two roses were the subject of the photograph

Hue/Saturation/Luminance Panel

  • Red hue shift increased to +7
  • Red saturation shift lowered to -2
  • Orange hue shift lowered to -2

Radial Filters

  • Added several radial filters just to highlight the petals on the roses are various exposures.

Brush Tool

  • Added a couple of brush strokes as certain parts were of a pink shade… so I changed the temperature/tint so that these parts became more orange.

Spot Removal Tool

  • There was a small branch on the right-hand side of the photograph half way up… used the spot healing brush set to clone to remove the branch.

Details Panel

  • Sharpening set to 73
  • Edge masking set to 74
  • Luminance Smoothing set to 13

Effects Panel

  • Post-crop Vignette lowered to -55


A photograph of apricot roses taken at Pashley Manor Gardens in East Sussex

A photograph of apricot roses taken at Pashley Manor Gardens in East Sussex – Final Image


A special thanks has to go to Paul Barson, who gave me the inspiration and the tip of how to use a Cloud Difference Filter and colour adjustment layers in your photograph … You can see more of Paul’s beautiful flower photography on his  Facebook Page.

Posted by Bren in Before and After, Floral, Photography, 0 comments
Monthly Before and After Challenge – August

Monthly Before and After Challenge – August


The final image for this challenge started out as three shots at different exposures..


To create my HDR image I used Google Nik HDR Efex 2… and used a deep Preset that is already installed with the Nik Software.

Bodiam Castle

Once my image was merged into a HDR image.. I then sent the photograph to Photoshop where I removed the distractions in the background just above the bridge… and using the Content Aware Path Tool I also removed the little boy..  Using the Camera Raw Filter in Photoshop I then used transform function and used the auto setting to give a better perspective of the photograph.

I then reimported my photo back into Lightroom where I did the following:

  • Used a Preset I created, by turning a black and white Preset by Serge Ramelli called ‘Experimental B&W-Many Lights’ back into Colour and removing all the radial filters.
  • I then added another Preset by Serge Ramelli called – ‘Western Mid’ (which is a free Preset which you can download by signing up to his site).
  • I then played around with the saturation and clarity.
  • I then cropped the image.
  • I then added a couple of more radial filters… and a few brush strokes to dodge and burn the image.  I also altered the settings of the radial filters to a more the effects more pleasing to the eye.
  • My final edit was to add a vignette and hey presto this is the final image..


A photograph taken of the ruins at Bodiam Castle back in 2012

A photograph taken of the ruins at Bodiam Castle back in 2012


If you would like to submit a photograph to my monthly Before and After Challenge please feel free to follow the instructions on this post…  I, hopefully, look forward to seeing your entries.

Posted by Bren in Before and After, Photography, 0 comments
From Harsh to Delicate

From Harsh to Delicate

Final Image

Final Image


I wanted to create a soft looking flower… and to see how soft and delicate I could make a harsh looking photo by using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Lullingstone Rose

Lullingstone Rose – SOOC

As you can see from the SOOC photo on the right, that particular rose has many petals and I did manage to get most of the rose in focus… as I was using shallow depth of field settings on my camera.

So I started off in Lightroom, and my first task was to crop the photograph until I got the amount of petals I wanted to play around with.  So in the Basic Panel my first job was to lower the saturation, contrast and increase the exposure.  After that I played around with the Highlights and Shadows sliders and then I then readjusted the Vibrance and Saturation to achieve a pastel pink rose. I then added some minimal split toning before exporting my photo to Photoshop.

Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Rose – Pre-Photoshop

Once I was in Photoshop, I duplicated my layer and then using the Lumenzia Panel by Greg Benz I added some sharpening and used a setting of 3.5.  I only wanted to sharpen the certain parts of the flower, mainly the centre of the bloom, so I added a Layer Mask filled it with black and then added an eclipse shape with a lot of feather so that the mask only allowed the section I selected to be sharpened.

9655 Layers PanelI then added a Colour Fill Layer and choose one of the pastel pinks and set the blending mode to colour.  As I only wanted the same section enhanced as per my previous layer I just used the same layer mask as my sharpening layer.  Using Shift+Alt+Control+E I created a new layer which merged all my other layers together… to this layer I added a Gaussian Blur.  But as I only wanted the blur to affect the outer edges of my photography, I copied my layer mask and then inverted the mask.

After that I then added a Black and White Adjustment Layer and use the same Layer Mask as my Gaussian Blur and I then lowered the Opacity of the layer to around 40%.

Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Rose – Post Photoshop

I was happy with the Image so I then saved the image and it automatically transferred it back to Lightroom.

Theoretically speaking I could have achieved the exact same adjustments in Lightroom without going to Photoshop but I used Photoshop a) because I have it and pay for it and b) because it gives you experience of playing around with layer masks, adjustment layers etc.  Plus you learn how to do things quicker once you have practised a few times 😀 😀

Now that my image was back in Lightroom, I did want to do much more to it so the only edits I did was in the Details Panel where I added a little bit of sharpening using the Edge Masking and a little bit of noise reduction.  In the Effects Panel, I added a Vignette but instead of darkening the edges I lightened them just a little.  And here is the photo in a black frame.

Lullingstone Rose - Framed

And in the frame below which I created in Photoshop I used the colours of the image for the mount.


Posted by Bren in Before and After, Floral, Photography, 8 comments
Hever Castle Lake

Hever Castle Lake

Hever Castle - More Swans


As you stroll around the grounds of Hever Castle in Kent… you come to this wonderful lake.. and what caught my eye was that red little building beside the lake.

Hever Castle

Taken by Bren Ryan – SOOC

As you can see from the original photo there were some distractions and I knew I wanted to remove them.  So I did a couple of small spot removals using the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom.  Whilst in Lightroom I also added a Preset I have and played around with the sliders in the Basic Panel and the Split Toning Panel.

Taken by Bren Ryan - Sent to Photoshop

Taken by Bren Ryan – Sent to Photoshop

That was it before I headed into Photoshop to take care of the those buoys and out of focus ducks…and some of the green foliage in the foreground..

Most of those distractions were taken care of using the Spot Healing Brush.  Once the distractions were removed I then added a texture layer to the photograph.  I then changed the mode blending style and to add some more impact I duplicated the texture layer and then lowered the opacity and changed the blending mode again. I also created a Curves Adjustment Layer and used a Luminosity Mask created by Lumenzia so that the curves adjustment only affected the parts of the photo I wanted it to affect.

And that was it for Photoshop, I saved it and it was automatically imported back into Lightroom.  Once it was back into Lightroom, I played around with some Graduated Filters and the sliders in the Basic Panel.  I then added a couple of Radial Filters and did some increase of exposure to the trees using the Local Adjustment Brush Tool. And then I decided it needed a frame… so off to the Print Module in Lightroom to frame my image..

Hever Castle Lake - IMG_7874 - Framed

But something wasn’t quite right… so I thought I would add a few more swans and ducks… now this was my first time of really adding things to an image.. so I apologise for it not being 100%… but you only learn by trying… and to be honest I quite like the photo now that there is more wildlife in it.

Posted by Bren in Before and After, Landscape, Photography, 0 comments
Sheer Drop

Sheer Drop

Taken by Bren Ryan - Final Image

Taken by Bren Ryan – Final Image


The above photograph was taken at Birling Gap in East Sussex, and was shot just by the houses that are very close to the cliffs edge.



As you can see from the SOOC photo, there is a fence post that is rather distracting and a piece of fencing that just doesn’t seem to belong there.. so I knew I had to use Photoshop to remove those parts.  But first in Lightroom, I did my basic edits.. Camera Calibration, Lens Profile and Chromatic Aberration.  I know I didn’t want to do too much to the photo before it went into Photoshop because most of my editing would be carried out later on.


Photo Sent to Lightroom

Once I did those I went to the Basic Panel played with the White Balance, Shadows, Highlights, Exposure, Clarity, Vibrance, Contrast and Saturation Sliders.  My next task was to add some Sharpening, Masking and Noise Reduction in the Details Panel.  Then it was off to Photoshop to remove that post and fence.

Once I was in Photoshop, I duplicated the layer and using the Patch Tool and working in little sections I removed the post and fence.

4957 - Layers PanelMy next task was to add a curves layer, using Lumenzia for luminosity masking I only allowed my curves layer to affect the cliffs.  Again I used a Luminosity Mask to add a Photo Filter.  However on that mask I lowered the density of the mask to about 86%.

Again using Lumenzia I added some sharpening and used a radius of 3.0.  And that was it for Photoshop.. I had achieved as much as I had wanted so back into Lightroom, to do my more profound editing of the photo.

Originally I was going to use a Black and White Preset by Serge Ramelli… which was called Experimental: B&W Many Lights.  But there were far too many lights for my liking so what I did was copied the settings of that Preset minus the Radial Filters and Pasted them into my Photo. I then changed it from B&W to Colour.

Local Adjustments was added to the Sky to using the Temperature Slider and I added new brushes to the cliffs where I increased the Shadows and Exposure slightly.  I played around with the little bit of see using the Local Adjustment Brushes and finally I added a Graduated Filter to the outside of the photo using a cream colour.

In the Details Panel I added some more Sharpening, Masking and Noise Reduction.  My final edit was to add a small Vignette in the Effects Panel.

I wanted to create a HDR’ish type of photo only using a single image… and I think I did achieve that.  And here is the Final Image set in a Photo-Frame.

Sheer Drop IMG_4957-Framed

Posted by Bren in Before and After, Landscape, Photography, 2 comments
Little Egret – Blue wash

Little Egret – Blue wash

Taken by Bren Ryan - Final Image

Taken by Bren Ryan – Final Image


Yesterday at Northward Hill Nature Reserve we had this Little Egret who was quite contented to pose for photographs… the clicks of the camera didn’t bother him at all… and as we had the camera’s set to High Burst Mode… we have loads of photographs of this bird.

Taken by Bren Ryan - SOOC

Taken by Bren Ryan – SOOC

I wanted to create something different… and I knew that Photoshop would be used… so I did some of my processing in Lightroom before I exported my photo to Photoshop.

The first thing I did was Crop the photo using the Crop Tool in Lightroom.  In the Basic Panel  I played around with the Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Blacks and Whites.  I then added some Clarity and Vibrance before lowering the Saturation a tad.

In the Details Panel I added some Sharpening and Edge Masking.  After that I did some Noise Reduction.  And finally in the Lens Correction Panel I ticked the Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Lens Profile boxes.  After that I then pressed the shortcut on PC Ctrl+E to send my photo into Photoshop.

Taken by Bren Ryan - Sent to Photoshop

Taken by Bren Ryan – Sent to Photoshop

Once in Photoshop, using the Spot Healing Brush and the Content-Aware setting I removed some of the grasses from the water… After that, I then added a New Layer and to this layer I added a Graduated Filter in two shades of pastel blue.  I then changed the Blending Mode of this Layer to Color.

Using a Layer Mask and a very soft Brush I then painted over the bird to remove the Graduated Filter from the bird.  When using my brush I used low opacity and flow settings and gradually built up mask…

5146 - Layers PanelOnce I was happy with the mask… I then duplicated the layer and changed the blending mode to Divide.

My next task was to add some sharpening to the bird… To add this Sharpening I used Lumenzia and then set the radius to 4.0.  After that my next task was to only add the Sharpening to the bird.  So I used the shortcut of Ctrl+I to Invert the Mask and then using a soft Brush I just painted gently over the bird and the reflection.  Then I saved my file and it exported itself back into Lightroom.

Once I was back into Lightroom I then added a couple of Radial Filters one to increase the Exposure where the bird’s legs went into the water and another to darken the area around the bird.  After that using a Local Adjustment Brush and a very small increment in the Exposure I then added some brush strokes to the bird.

In the Details Panel I then did some more Sharpening, Masking and Luminance Smoothing.  Then in the Effects Panel I added a small Vignette.  The object of processing this photograph was to use mainly blue tones and white for the bird… and I quite like the effect I have created…

Here is a 12×8 version of the above photograph in a frame

12x8 photo in frame - Little Egret - Blue Wash

Posted by Bren in Before and After, Photography, Wildlife, 4 comments
Over the Gate and into the Distance

Over the Gate and into the Distance

Taken by Ashley Ryan - Final Image

Taken by Ashley Ryan – Final Image

The above photograph is a HDR composite taken at Northward Hill Nature Reserve… it was only a brief stop and this was taken at an off beaten track near the actual farm.  As it was in a dark secluded place, and we didn’t bother to use tripods we were lucky that the three shots turned out without too much camera shake.


For this photo, all the processing was done in Lightroom and I used Nik Collection HDR Efex Pro 2 to create the initial HDR Image.


Taken by Ashley Ryan

Taken by Ashley Ryan – HDR created by NIK Collection HDR Efex Pro 2.


I liked what Nik HDR did and I used a Deep Preset before exporting my photo back into Lightroom.  The first I did was find a suitable White Balance, and then I played around with the Tint and Temperature Sliders in the Basic Panel.  I then went to the Lens Correction Panel and ticked the boxes for Remove Chormatic Aberration and Enable Lens Profile.

My next task was to crop the photo using the Crop Tool and straighten the photo a little using the Angle Slider.  I then used Preset by Serge Ramelli called Tone:Orange City Street and I played around with the Contrast, Exposure and Saturation.  Then I went to the Tone Curve Panel and then used the Strong Constrast Preset and played around with the Dark Tones Slider.

I then added another Serge Ramelli Preset called Tone:Golden Age.  I then played around with Exposure and Saturation Sliders in the Basic Panel.

After I played around with the Radial Filters by moving them slightly to enhance the background more.  The Preset I used made the photograph Black and White so in the Colours Panel I converted the photograph back into Colour and played around with the Hues and Luminance Sliders. I then went to the Split Toning Panel and played around with the Sliders until I added some more green to the photo.

The settings for the Graduated Filters, which were included in the Preset, were slightly altered, I then went to the Details Panel, where I added some Sharpening and played around with the Masking Slider.  I then did some Noise Reduction and that was it… for this image.

Except for using Nik Collection HDR Efex Pro 2 for merging my shots into HDR, the whole processing was done in Lightroom.

Taken by Ashley Ryan - Final Image

Taken by Ashley Ryan – Final Image

Posted by Bren in Before and After, Landscape, Photography, 0 comments