Starry Skies: August One Photo Focus challenge

With all the tools for post-processing of digital photos these days, you can have a lot of fun being creative with your images. To encourage people to learn and share different post-processing techniques, a photographer named Stacey Fisher has set up a Before and After weekly event, as well as a once a One Photo Focus month event where everyone processes the same photo in a different way. The idea is not only to share the images but also some explanation of how they were derived.

This month the photo challenge was “Drawing with Light” by Katie Prior. Here is the original (made smaller for my blog):

The Cobb before right size

On first looking at the photo, I was struck by the great angles of the stone path / pier and the focus on the stones, which I really liked, but noticed the dull colour of the sky due to the weather that day. I had the idea to replace the sky with a starry sky and see how it would look as a night time photo, but at first was unable to figure out how to do this on Photoshop Elements.

So instead I played around with the colour saturation (Enhance –> Colour –> Hue/Saturation). Suddenly a lot of interesting colours popped out: the algae on the bricks of the pier, the different shades of the mountains in the distance. The crashing waves against the pier also stood out more, and suddenly it reminded me a bit of a seaside painting, so I went with this theme. I really liked the angles and brick details of the original, but for the seaside version I wanted to focus on the colours and details of the pier, so I cropped the photograph. Since the original focus had been on the closer stones, I then sharpened the image. Finally, to make it look like a holiday snapshot, I just added a frame with my Android phone gallery. Here is the finished version:

with frame

However, I was still keen to learn something new in Photoshop Elements, so I decided to try to have a go at changing the sky using instructions from this website.

First, I found a Creative Commons image of a starry sky. I chose this one by Jan Beckendorf called “Kaleidoscope II / Starry Sky”, which I was able to use with this Creative Commons licence.

According to the instructions on the website on how to change the sky, i then opened both images in Photoshop Elements and resized them (Image–>resize) to the same size (length and width in pixels). The next step was to select the whole sky picture with the Rectangular Marquee tool and press Ctl C (copy). After that, I selected the other picture again, and in Layers, I right clicked and chose Duplicate Layer, to make an identical background layer. With the lasso tool, I then selected the sky area in the original photo. I cut out the mountains because it was hard to select them neatly and their colour didn’t look right against the night time sky I’d chosen. Once the sky area was selected, I pressed Control Shift V to paste the sky (already copied) into selected area. It worked!

To make the rest of the photo look more like night time, I then changed the hues of the photo to some purple shades. (Enhance –> Colour –> Hue/Saturation). I then imported the picture into Light Room and enhanced the clarity a bit so that the sea would stand out more, and increased the shadows. When I enhanced the shadows too much I ended up with a crazy splintered sky, but I kind of liked this effect, which I show in the version below:

starry night pic1

On a version with less shadows (and splintered sky) I used Photoshop Elements Lighting Effects to try to create the effect of moonshine.

I also tried playing around with Lighting effects on photoshop elements to try to create the effect of moonshine. (Filer–> Render –> Lighting effects). Here you can see two different Starry Sky versions using different lighting effects.

starry night pic 3 lighting 4 small

starry night pic 3 lighting 1

Thank you Katie for providing an interesting photo to play with! To see what other people came up with, check out the original August One Photo post on Stacey Fisher’s website.







Print Friendly, PDF & Email

12 thoughts on “Starry Skies: August One Photo Focus challenge

    • nn says:

      Yes – it was much more than I would normally edit a photo! Wanted to challenge myself to learn something new on Photoshop after seeing some of the great edits in the previous month’s challenge (I especially loved the dinosaurs at the empire state building!).

  1. Natalie, there is so much “wonderfulness” here! Thanks for the tutorial on how you replaced the sky and for showing us all your different iterations. I really enjoyed reading about your thought processes as you went through each one. Hard to choose which I like best (the fractured look is really kind of neat and the seaside version is soft and lovely). Thanks so much for giving One Photo Focus a go! Hope to see you back for September’s photo 🙂

  2. No question, hands down, the final image is the best- though you intermediate steps are interesting. I’m glad you added the links to the Photoshop tutorial you used as I am a novice with the program and your work here gives me hope that I can one day do the same. Great job!

  3. Love the starry sky! Its great to try new stuff and with my (limited) experience of Photoshop, there is so much “new stuff” to learn! I’m going to have to look up the link in your post to see how its done, thanks for posting that.

    • nn says:

      Thanks! I tried another link first only to get to instruction 10 or so on the list and realize that it did not work with Photoshop Elements 😀 But with a better Photoshop there are also other ways to do this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *