Goin’ to the Chapel

No story this week.

Instead, I wanted to share the creative journey of a particular image. An image taken last summer in Pittsburgh during an unplanned side visit to the Heinz Memorial Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

Have you ever had one of those images in your archive which you love but aren’t quite sure what to do with? This shot of the chapel interior fell into that category. To say the architecture was stunning is an understatement. But the lighting was tricky. Between the stained glass windows, low-level artificial lights and daylight streaming in from open doorways, determining the correct white balance was virtually impossible, as you can see in the blue-toned RAW file below.

I loved this view down the aisle, with the golden light illuminating the pointed arches. But if you look closely at the original image, you will see a standing electric fan near the doorway, an element which certainly detracted from the composition and stately ambiance.

I took the shot anyway.

Where it languished in my files.

At one point, I adjusted the image in Adobe Camera Raw. Changing the white balance to Fluorescent, as I discovered with this image, bathed the stonework in lovely pink and purple tones. Okay, that was rather exciting. I tediously cloned out the offending fan, wiring and plaque in the doorway. Even better.

But it still needed something – some missing creative element before it became what I envisioned, what I wanted it to be. Back in the archives it went.

Then I stumbled upon the answer. Flipping through back issues of Photoshop Creative magazine, I came across a tutorial with instructions to convert an image into a “painting” using Photoshop filters. This photo immediately popped into my head. I laboriously followed the steps.

My reward was the image you see above, now transformed into what I wanted it to be: an artistic and creative interpretation of a magnificent place.

You see, this is what I love about post-processing. This ability to transmute pixels; to become a painter of color and light with a mouse instead of a brush.

Yes, sometimes the creative journey is a winding one. But each image has its destination – as long as we keep following the path.

Linking with The Creative Exchange

Original RAW Image on the left; processed image on the right


Posted on February 27, 2012, in Photoshop and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Love the transformation! Beautiful, beautiful painting of colour and light. And, I love the idea that ‘each image has its destination as long as we follow the path.’ I haven’t thought of it that way, and was at times fearful when doing any post processing. This weekend, I bought photoshop – so, your message, and the beautiful image to go with it, could not be more perfectly timed. Shall begin a journey of my own with one of my photographs this week – and see where we land. 🙂

  2. Calling by as another participant in The Creative Exchange, thanks for sharing your experiment, very creative.

  3. Thanks for taking us with you on this creative journey — interesting how this photo called you back and demanded more. Why do some images just grab us? I wish I understood more about this kind of connection. Your painterly results are beautiful — it has a mystical and timeless quality. Very special, Brenda.

  4. Love this image and the processing is just awesome. I’ve been experimenting with painterly effects as part of Kim Klassen’s Beyond Layers and thought I’d hate it but I’m finding it really fascinating and images like yours make me want to keep going and explore more. I love your composition and the light effects you’ve acheived. And I love your description of post-processing as making you a painter of colour and light. It’s so true.

  5. Wow Brenda. Thanks for sharing your process on this one. It is gorgeous. Being a newcomer to PS, I often find myself wondering what the “right” thing to do is, and whether I’m “cheating”… but coming here helps me remember that it’s all part of the process and there is no “right,” (hopefully) no “wrong,” and really no “cheating.”

  6. WOW…this is incredible!! It somehow reminds me of an animated picture..a fantasy scene. I’ve never heard of Photoshop Creative..but am definitely going to check-it out. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Ah yes Brenda, I have a very large folder full of these images!! 🙂
    I absolutely love what you did here, and it definitely does look like a beautiful painting. Such wonderful colors!

    Thank you so very much for sharing with us today at The Creative Exchange.

    Have a wonderful evening!


  8. Really love what you have done with this1 Isn’t it fun to see the amazing things you can do with your photos.. Just love it. You should print it up and keep it in your journal to remind you of your creativity!

  9. Gorgeous, Brenda. The colors, the texture, the light – stunning. It does look very painterly, and much more inspirational than the original shot. I love the composition, the way you’ve lined up the arches. It leads me right into the image and makes me want to see what’s at the end of that corridor.

  10. Beautiful editing of an already stunning capture


  11. Stunning in many ways!

  12. The transformation is stunning. I’ve just been through my photos having a bit clear out hitting that delete button like there’s no tomorrow. Your image makes me think twice now about some of those that I deleted. Gorgeous.

  13. I appreciate your explanation of the process you went through with this image. That takes patience–the doing and the explaining. I, too, come back to images and work them in different ways, exploring and experimenting to find what looks right to me at that moment.
    The colors in this are beautiful! As is the composition. The painterly look is different from other images of yours that I have seen, so it left me a bit surprised.

  14. LOve the colours in the final image.

  15. Beautiful photo and post-processing.

    Regards and best wishes

  16. Some photographers really decry the use of “painterly” effects to tweak an image. I love it myself, and find it fun and creative to take an image that might otherwise not be used and convey more effectively the reason we took it in the first place. This is a beautiful, evocative image.

  17. This is a stunning transformation, and I truly appreciate the detail you provide about how you kept going back to this image, working on it bit by bit, and then, with just the right inspiration, made it into a beautiful end product.

  18. I love hearing about your journey with this photograph, and all the artistry involved. Brava!

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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