Before & After Photo Editing Contest

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Congratulations to our winners!
Thank you to everyone who entered! You made the final decision pretty tough for our judges.
Grand Prize Winner: Robert Work
Desert Rain photo contest
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Desert Rain
During a trip to the UAE, I initially went to these dunes hoping for some nice golden light to highlight the ripples of the sand. It started raining on the way, and I almost turned around, thinking I wouldn't get anything good. I was so glad that I kept going, because the desert during a storm has a whole different beauty to it. **I'm a U.S. resident by the way--went to UAE on a work trip :)
Empty Quarter, UAE
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2nd Place Winner: Mickey Shannon
Gateway to the Heavens photo contest
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Gateway to the Heavens
This is a massive panorama of the Milky Way galaxy spanning over Monument Rocks in western Kansas. This image took a lot of editing, but the tripod stayed in the exact same spot for the entire image. I started by shooting 19 images individual images that would make up the sky before the moon came up. I needed to do this to make sure the moon didn't wash out the Milky Way too much. Then, I waited for the moon to come up and shot another 19 shots that would be used mostly for the foreground. I wanted the moon to cast large shadows over the ground, but light up parts of the foreground. I wanted it to barely come up over the rocks so I could have a sort of moon-burst that would add to the composition. I took a few shots that I would use to blend the moon in. Then I took one last shot of myself with a timer, holding a flashlight while standing in the archway. Then came the editing. This was a massive panorama that took quite a bit of time and patience to get right. Stitching large pano's like this can be a lot of trial and error, but thankfully I accomplished what I was hoping for. Before stitching the images, I did quite a bit of RAW adjustments for color, lighting (my Sony A7Rii works wonderfully in low-light situations, so I could bring out some of the shadows). I always do a bit of contrast work on the Milky Way to really bring out the detail of the stars. Once I was happy with how the RAW files looked, I sent them to PTGui Pro. One for the lit-up foreground, and one for the Milky Way background. I then layered them over each other. I took each of the two layers (foreground and night sky) and blended them together in Photoshop to create one giant panorama. I then used a couple of other images to bring the moon in. I shot quite a few takes of the moon as it rose over the archway, so that I would have a lot to choose from. Once I was happy with the way the moon looked, I brought in the self-portrait image and worked it into the archway. The final touch was to do a little local adjustments to bring out color and detail in the Milky Way even further. The final product is what you see! One interesting note about the image: there's a small comet-like object on the far right of the image. I was dumb-lucky that I had just started shooting the first batch of images when a fireball streaked across. the sky to the south. I clicked the shutter quickly and caught the tail end of it, adding another piece to what I consider one of my best images!
Wichita, KS
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3rd Place Winner: Craig Stocks
Zodiacal Sunrise photo contest
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Zodiacal Sunrise
Watching the sunrise from the top of the Haleakala volcano at 10,000 feet is a "must do" when visiting Maui. Our first attempt was rained out but on this day we had nearly perfect conditions (other than the cold wind). As we were beginning to see the first colors of dawn I noticed a car driving back down the park access road and timed a long exposure to capture the trail of taillights and the headlights painting the hillside with light. Since that frame was taken with the camera in a vertical orientation I combined it with an adjacent frame taken in landscape orientation to create the final composition. The name "Zodiacal Sunrise" is for the glowing band of zodiacal light in the sky created by the disk of dust that surrounds our sun. It is sometimes visible just before sunrise or after sunset if you have a sufficiently dark sky.
Haleakala National Park - Maui, Hawaii
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4th Place Winner: Kevin Huang
Halcyon Days photo contest
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Halcyon Days
A glowing Winter scene in the Eastern Sierras. As the sun rose, there were very few cars on the roads so early. I pulled over to the side of the highway, climbed a snowbank, and shot this panorama.
Eastern Sierras
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