Techniques for Creating Stunning Architectural Images: Editing Walkthrough
Featured Apps: TouchRetouch, Photoshop Express, Snapseed, Filterstorm
Topics Covered: Cloning, Noise Reduction, Sharpening, Blur
For me, shooting architecture is often about capturing three things: precision, size and beauty…in interesting ways. However, out of these three items, precision and beauty typically resonate with me the most. Naturally, my editing workflow tends to focus on enhancing these elements using several techniques that I’ll discuss in today’s tutorial.
In today’s Darkroom mobile photography tutorial we’ll share some editing techniques that will help you create stunning architectural images. We’ll show you how to cleanup and prepare your image, maintain edge detail while smoothing flat surfaces and simulate reflective contrast. Also, for the first time we’ll walk you through an in-depth edit step-by-step to show you how we achieved the final image from start to finish.
Original Image (feel free to save and use for this tutorial)
Wait a second?! What’s with all the white specs all over this picture? …..Ummm, that’s snow….. OK, you’re probably wondering why I’d pick an image speckled with snowflakes for this tutorial. You’ll see in a second but this is a great image to show you one of my favorite apps: TouchRetouch. And yes, we’re about to remove the snowflakes.
Initial Image Cleanup/Prep
I’ve told you that Filterstorm has my favorite masking tools for iOS, Photoshop Express has my favorite Noise Reduction and now I’ll tell you that TouchRetouch has my favorite cloning tools. In fact, TouchRetouch could upstage some Desktop cloning tools.
Using TouchRetouch to remove unwanted elements in an image is as easy as painting them with red using the brush tool. Once done, click the Play button at the bottom of the screen and poof they’re gone. No artifacts, rarely any smudging from surrounding colors…it’s as close to magic as you can get when editing on a mobile device. The grid below shows how I’ve marked the snowflakes on the panel below and quickly removed them in a pain-free fashion.
Not all elements are removed as easily with the clone brush tool though. For areas that have a patterned, rather than solid color, background you’ll want to select the clone stamp tool. The cool thing about the clone stamp tool is that the reticle is “intelligent” and can lock on to edges and lines in an image. For example, after positioning the clone reticle over one of the dark stripes I can tap anywhere higher on the dark stripe and the reticle will lock on and start cloning all the way up, down and across the stripped section. Pretty cool right?
The before and after here is pretty impressive. Removing the snowflakes can take more or less time depending on how detailed you want to be but the process is easy and TouchRetouch does a great job at cleaning things up.
Smoothing Surfaces While Maintaining Edge Detail
Once you’ve cleaned up your image you’ll want to work on smoothing out grain in the glass panels using Noise Reduction. However, when smoothing the glass you’ll inadvertently lose the edge detail around the panels. SOLUTION: Alternate very light applications of Noise Reduction and Sharpening. I’m using PS Express and Snapseed for this example.
Wondering which one to start with? Depends on your image. If you’re image is already pretty “grain free” I’d recommend starting with Sharpening. If your image is still a bit grainy after cleaning up with TouchRetouch then start with Noise Reduction. This will maximize each adjustments intended effect while minimizing “over-smoothing” or artifacts.
By alternating adjustment at 10-15% (2-3 times max each) you’ll maintain more edge detail as you smooth the surface of the windows.
Finishing Up with Simulated Reflective Contrast
To wrap up the edit I applied the Film Black and White preset in Snapseed, dropped Grain to 0 and Contrast to 60. This provides a well balanced contrast and maintains the smooth finish we achieved in the last step.
At this point we’re ready to review our image for any final tweaking that may be required. If you notice any artifacts or blotchiness on the glass panels you can load the image in Filterstorm, set the Blur tool to about 3%, drop the brush Opacity to around 10-15% and smooth out these areas. It’s helpful to zoom in until you’ve framed the panel in your viewing display. Start with a large brush diameter for the center area and then reduce the brush diameter for the panel edges and corners. Remember, you don’t want to accidentally blur your edge detail. As an added bonus, the low level application of the blur tool with low brush opacity can enhance the reflective contrast further.
And here is the original and final image after some final Tuning (minimal) and White Balance tweaks in Snapseed.
These are all just suggestions based on my personal workflow so feel free to break out of these steps and explore new ideas.
- Adam Conner @derblutenkat
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