July One Photo Focus

I am continuing my exploration of “digital dark room” techniques through my participation in the monthly “One Photo Focus” challenge, hosted by Stacy Fischer at Visual Venturing.  As the name suggests, all participants work on a single image and put their own interpretation.

July Image

Just in time for Independence Day in the States, we are all working on the iconic image submitted by Robin Kent of PhotographybyKent of the US Capitol Building.  Here is the original:

US Capitol - Original untouched

US Capitol – Original untouched

It took me a while to decide how I would work with this image, but when I read about this grand edifice, it became evident how I would like to treat it.  The Capitol is among the most symbolically important and architecturally impressive buildings in the United States. It has housed the meeting chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate for two centuries. It stands today as a monument to the American people and their government.

Summary of my editing process

So with history in mind, I first of all wanted to bring out a little more contrast and details in both the building and the sky to give the image more drama.  To do so I used the Nik Color Efex software and select the detail extractor tool.  Here is the first step.

Detail Extractor-1

Step 1 – Detail Extractor using Nik Color Efex

I then wanted to reflect the age of the building, and highlight the passage of time.  To do this, I again called on the Nik software, but this time using Silver Efex and applying an Antique Plate pre-set.  I did some minor tweaking of the settings, selected a sepia tone and added an image border reminiscent of burnt and faded edges.  Back in Lightroom, I resized and saved the image. Here is the result:

Antique Plate

Step 2 – Antique Plate and frame

I am quite happy with the effect.  The image has a vintage look thanks to the sepia tones, the faded vignette and burnt frame, and the details in the sky have added interest.  This was a good exercise in visualising what I wanted to achieve, then working on translating what was in my mind’s eye.  So thank you Robin for letting us play with your photograph.

Do take the opportunity to head over to Visual Venturing for this July One Photo Focus challenge and check out other participants’ creative efforts.  There are sure to be some very different interpretations.

27 thoughts on “July One Photo Focus

  1. Chris, first of all, I’m so chuffed that you read up on the history of this building! It’s a pretty amazing site to see and I feel blessed that it’s only 20 minutes away (well, without traffic) from where I live, so I can see it whenever I want 🙂 I’ve attended quite few holiday concerts sitting on that lawn and even a presidential swearing-in ceremony. I’m digressing, but my point is that you paid homage to this edifice beautifully. Your process was straightforward (as you know, I love the Nik software suite), but it’s how you chose to combine the effects to reach your vision that I loved reading about and seeing. Nicely done!

  2. These were good effects, I liked the first one best , how you brought out the contrast and made the Capitol look so impressive

  3. I think it’s really cool that you read up on the building prior to editing the picture! I love the vintage feel you have the photo. The burnt frame is the perfect finishing touch! I keep hearing people mention the Nik Software. Where do you all get it from?

  4. Lovely job Chris, Nik never lets me down and the sepia works well here, I like the extra feature of the framing, looks just like an old postcard 🙂

  5. Great job, Chris. I appreciate your checking out the building’s history. Your post-processing efforts produced a really nice result. The vintage look was perfectly executed. I was also intrigued by the intermediate step, the detail extractor had a powerful effect on the sky and clouds. I’m glad you didn’t stop there, however, the final result for this image made much more sense. Nevertheless, I may have to look into that software package.

  6. Well, here I am playing catch up. Especially this week when there were so many submissions. I like what you did here, concentrating on what the building means and then converting the history into a visual. I must say I have yet to try NiK. I have yet to master the apps I already have!

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