Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #134: From Forgettable to Favorite

It’s important to take bad pictures. It’s the bad ones that have to do with what you’ve never done before. They can make you recognize something you hadn’t seen in a way that will make you recognize it when you see it again.– Diane Arbus

This week, Tina asks us to post a few images that started out as forgettable, but ended up as favorites.   I love this idea because learning the techniques of post processing is an ongoing process and it has helped me rescue photos from the depths of my archives.  I’m going to focus on two images, which needed quite a bit of editing.

Flying Point Beach Final Image

Flying Point Beach at Sunset, Southampton, NY

Flying Point Beach is one of my favorite images.  It reminds me of a wonderful summer visit with our friends John and Joyce out in Southhampton, NY.  We went to the beach during the golden hour, so the light was incredible.  In this shot, wanted to highlight the golden light against the wooden fence and the beautiful sky, but my original shot on the left was too dark.  I experimented with the dodge tool in Photoshop to lighten the sand and then I increased the saturation and contrast to highlight the golden light.  At last, I was happy with the final result.

Birds of Paradise Close-Up

Two years ago, we flew to Australia on Fiji Airlines.  On the way home, we had the option to adding a layover in Fiji as a way to break up a very long trip.  We ended up staying on the islands for several weeks, which gave us a wonderful opportunity to explore Nadi and Savusavu.  When we returned home, I opened up my digital files anticipating many beautiful images, but I was sorely disappointed.  Many of my photos didn’t do justice to the beauty of the island. 

This image of a bird of paradise is an example.  In the original shot below on the left, the background detracts from the beauty of the flower.  I wanted to focus more on the unusual and delicate shape of the flower, so I cropped the image and then cropped it again.  For the final image I cropped the shot again, increased the saturation, and added Nik’s soft blur filter.  The final result highlights the water droplets, the beautiful lines and color of the plant and its geometry.  Now, at last, I’m happy with the image! 

So, circling back to Diane Arbus’ quote at the top of this post, what did I learn from these experiences?  Lesson 1:  I need to be aware of the balance of light and shadow when taking outdoor images.  In the future, I could try using my flash to brighten deeply shadowed areas.  Lesson 2:  My intention needs to be clear when I am composing a shot.  In the case of the birds of paradise, I wanted to focus on the plant, so I should have moved in closer and eliminated the distracting background before clicking the shutter.  

We hope you join us this week and share how you used editing to improve your images. Please link your post to Tina’s original post, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you.

I really enjoyed your responses to Amy’s “Photography Journey” challenge last week.  It was a wonderful way to learn more about you, your cameras, your thoughts about photography, and how your photography has evolved over the years. 

We are excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be hosted by the wonderfully creative  Sheetal of Sheetal Thinks Aloud.  Her challenge begins next Saturday at noon EST. 

In closing, a word of thanks for your continued participation, support, enthusiasm, and creativity which continue to inspire us!  Have a wonderful, creative week and please stay safe.

81 replies »

  1. Wonderful post Patti. Loved the way you opened with the spot-on Diane Arbus quote which I must keep among my “favorite quotes” collection 😊. Also love that you shared your thoughts on what you disliked about your images and why you made the edits. You subtly improved both to reach your goals with the images and perhaps more importantly shared the lessons learned with each one. It’s great to improve our images via editing, but even better to improve our technique based on our results. Job well done on that. Last but not least – “several weeks in Fuji” – Who wouldn’t want to give THAT a try?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Tina. Yes, several weeks in Fiji was like taking a trip back in time to the Garden of Eden. Idyllic and so beautiful. I’m delighted you liked the way I approached this one. I agree. Our next steps are to improve our techniques. I’m going to try the fill flash when I have the next opportunity. Take care and enjoy Sunday. It’s snowing up here. Hope you could play golf!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Rabirius. Thanks! The sunset was so beautiful that day. I really wanted to highlight the warm tones, as you say. I always appreciate your critique! I hope all’s well with you.


  2. You have highlighted a flaw in my own image making. I work pretty hard on composition in-camera, and I try to pay attention to light and shadow if the scene is really high contrast, but otherwise, I find myself dependent upon bracketing and HDR merging, then editing to fix what I didn’t take the time to notice in my original opportunity when behind the lens.

    Beautiful results on both of your images!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, John. Yes, as you can tell, I do the same thing with bracketing and HDR merging. That does help, but next I want to work on doing it in the moment instead of later! We’re in the same boat! I’m glad to hear I’m in good company.😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Anne. That’s wonderful to hear. I’m delighted. I’m really interested in how the pros decide how and what to edit. Their skills are impressive. I’m learning bit by bit. Looking forward to your post, too. Hopefully you can join us.


  3. What an informative post, Patti! The quote in the beginning summed it best. I’m not the greatest of photographer but looking at the before and after pictures, especially of the bird of paradise, was really helpful in understanding how the image was enhanced. Picture one of the beach was as it is arresting.

    Finally, thank you for the lovely shout-out. I’m excited for next week. By the way, the layover in Fiji sounded delightful. I’m envious of the places you’ve been to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Sheetal. Wonderful! Glad this was helpful. When we were researching airlines to Australia, I found great rates with Fiji Airlines and then, when we learned we could add a stop-over without an added fee, we did it. I’m very glad we did. I’ve never been to such a remote and unspoiled place before. It was a remarkable experience. Like so many people, we’re anxious to get back on the road again. I’m sure you’ve been to places that I haven’t traveled to yet! We end up going back to the same place again and again! We’re excited about you guest hosting next week. Your theme will be fun for all of us.


    • Hi, Janet. Many thanks! I’m delighted to hear that. I just worked on the bird of paradise shot this week. It’s wonderful to hear your feedback. I think Arbus is absolutely right. I hope all’s well with you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was wondering how Diane Arbus knew about all my bad shots, Patti 🙂 🙂 I love how you have totally lifted that beach shot! Nothing more disappointing than when what you saw in your lens doesn’t match up. Great job here!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Patti, The result of the beach image is beautiful, the light and colors were processed perfectly. I love the close-of the Birds of Paradise.
    I’ll always remember the quote. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Amy.😀. I framed that beach image! Glad you liked the processing on the birds of paradise. I just did it this week and I was hoping the end result would get positive feedback!! Take care and enjoy the new week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Several weeks stopover? I am so jealous! Love the Flying Point Beach photo. The bird of paradise is very different to the ones I know from South Africa which are orange and blue. My parents had an enforced stopover in Fiji when they were flying to New Zealand with another couple. The husband was taken ill with a suspected heart attack so they were diverted to Fiji. This must have been over 45 years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, no! An enforced stopover. Our trip was heavenly, but honestly, I had to adjust a bit to the limited food supplies in Savusavu. They are so reliant on imports. But the natural beauty is amazing. It’s a great deal to fly with Fiji Airlines because you can stop over without an additional charge. I’d do it again, for sure. Interesting that the So. African variety is different. I saw them on the web. Take care and thanks, as always, for your wonderful, thoughtful comments.


      • Yes all is as well as it can be in this pandemic situation. They are just lifting some of the lockdown restrictions here in some areas. Our grandson was able to go back to school last week which was good for him and for our daughter who was monitoring his home schooling as well as working from home herself! But we are all well and that is what matters. So on we go!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s good news, Anne. We have a weird patchwork of restrictions that make sense and no restrictions which make no sense. Bars are still open here, so they were packed for the Superbowl. I don’t get it! Glad your grandson and daughter are getting back to “normal.”

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great, not just before/after but also in between. That is a help.

    Diane Arbus should see my hard drive full of stuff that has gone wrong just because I’ve been too lazy to use the techniques I already know 🙂 Hard to rescue photos where I didn’t bother to keep my hands still, or didn’t look carefully enough at the focus.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Loved your opening quote. The golden hour photo is gorgeous – the editing tool is like magic! Cropping is one of my favorite photo edits – those flowers really come to life in crop #2. 🙂


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