Expressing Architectural Qualities of a Photo by Using Tools in Photoshop




There may be times when one is walking around the city photographing architecture and may not have the time to sit and capture the perfect image. Or, after downloading and viewing a photograph, one may want to bring out certain qualities that the camera could not capture. There a couple of methods in Photoshop to enhance or enrich a photograph. This article focuses primarily on enhancing an architectural photograph.

I will use the Seagram Building (architect: Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe) as an example for this tutorial. While walking around Manhattan with my professor and classmates we passed by the Seagram building located on Park Avenue and I had just enough time to take only a couple of photographs.

Here are some steps to take to clean up the photograph:

Step 1: Transform

First you want to transform the photograph to get all of the edges set up on an orthogonal system.

a. Lens Correction: Go to Filter>Distort>Lens Correction

b. Use the Vertical and Horizontal Perspective sliders to adjust and align edges with the grid. Not everything may not align so there is another option to use after the Lens Correction tool

c. Free Transform: Hold CTRL A to select the whole photograph, the hold CTRL T to enter Free Transform, then right click and select skew

d. You can set up guides by going to view>Rulers and click and drag off of the ruler to bring down guide lines.

e. Adjust the image as needed and then hit enter

Step 2: Levels

The next step is to play with the Levels of the photograph to adjust brightness and contrast

a. Go to Image>adjustments>Levels

b. Slide the black tab right, and the white tab left until you see desired results in brightness and contrast.

Step 3: Sharpen

After you play with the Levels you will want to sharpen the photograph to make it more crisp.

a. Unsharp Mask: Go to filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask

b. A good setting to use is to have it around 30% or 40% amount and a radius of 3.0. I would not increase these values too much; the photo will start to lose its quality.

Step 4: Color

Since the colors are already pretty rich in this photograph, I will skip editing the Hue/Saturation but if you would like to make adjustments there a couple of options under the adjustments tab:

Vibrance, Hue/Saturation, Channel Mixer, and Selective Color.

Step 5: Desaturate Top Layer

For this particular photograph I would like to architecturally express the orange hue in the windows of the building. To begin, I will copy the layer and work on the new layer

a. Under the layers tab select the background layer, right click and select duplicate layer

b. On this new layer I will de-saturate the photograph.

Step 6: Reveal Orange

Now that I have a top layer in b&w and a bottom layer in color, I can selectively cut way portions of the top layer so that I can start to reveal the orange in the bottom layer.

a. One way I can do this is to use the rectangular marquee tool, select a window and use this to delete the selection from the b&w layer.

b. To make the process go faster, set up guides to lock the selections to, and after making the first selection, hold the CTRL key to add to that selection.

Step 7: Enriching the Orange

After revealing the Orange, I can enrich the color by selecting on the bottom layer and adjusting the Hue/Saturation.

Step 8: Final

The Final Result:



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    3 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable
    But I must say that for personal as well as professional reason, I find the original picture more interesting that the final project.
    Black and white does focus on the building with it's color lighted windows, but it fails to render what is most important in architecture photos : the structure of the building, it's shape and how it fis in the environment.
    What you've done is purely decorative.
    Moreover I find these over uses of photoshop an other trick to make a dull picture look more interesting than they really are.
    More an advertising process than an architectural rendition of buildings.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    did you mean to make the photograph b/w with orange highlights, seems that you could use blending options to bring out the color of the cars in the traffic and trees . Although this is informative, suggest you try the blending option to further enhance this photograph.. this would bring out the shadows better and enhance the picture more , The halls to the side are not showing up well

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Maruawe, I havn't tried the blending options...I could play around with it and maybe add to this tutorial. Yeah, you're right the halls are kind of dark. Thanks