Stacy P. Fischer is the host of the After Before Forum’s One Photo Focus challenge. The One Photo Focus challenge idea is simple. On the first Friday of the month, a photo is contributed by a member of the After Before Forum. Participants have the first Friday of the month to edit the image any way they like. The edited image is then submitted back to Stacy where the participants and others can view what was done.
For the October challenge, Y. Prior has submitted a smartphone image. The JPEG image was shot on an iPhone 6 at high ISO. The iPhone 6 camera performs well in brightly lit conditions but doesn’t do as well in darker conditions. The image has a lot of noise and loss of detail in the shadows. I knew this was going to be a challenge given that the image is a JPEG.
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I pulled the image into Adobe and tried a few things. But first I converted the JPEG image to DNG. JPEG tends to lose quality when multiple edits are applied to the image. JPEG uses lossy compression so every time the image is saved the algorithm compresses it and you lose detail. Converting to DNG assured me that all edits were being applied without loss of image detail.
I considered that I could simply apply a filter and call it a day. But instead, I decided to try doing a fake HDR. After applying profile correction, I created ten virtual copies of the image, created a bracketed set of images, -5/+5,-4/+4,-3/+3,-2/+2,-1/+1, and combined them in Photomatix Pro with the Natural preset.
I then cropped the image to make the composition cosier. The leather and the room decor suggested musty old hotel lobby to me. I wanted to create a cosier, a warmer feeling so I adjusted the exposure to -1.33 in an attempt to enhance that feeling. I think this composition has more of a country club feeling.
I used Nik’s Dfine plug-in to reduce the noise in the shadows.
Once I had wrapped that up it occurred to me that I should try editing the image on my iPad or iPhone. The original image was shot on an iPhone, why not do all my editing on my iPhone? I exported the cropped copy of the original image to TIF and copied it over to my iPhone for editing in my favourite iOS image editor, Polarr.
Polarr is a photo editor aimed at a more advanced user demographic than Instagram or VSCOcam. Polarr allows the user to make similar adjustments to what one would find in Adobe Lightroom — white balance, exposure, contrast, clarity, highlights and shadows, HSL channels, curves, vignettes, distortions, watermarks and more. It also includes a set of filter presets to use a starting point for your edits. Polarr is available via a web browser but there are apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and macOS.
In Polarr, I cropped the original and adjusted contrast, exposure, saturation, noise, vibrancy, etc. to create the image below which I submitted to Stacy. What do you think?