Before and After, Editing for Success

This article is about photo editing and the process I went through to create my favourite photo from a trip to Dubai in late in 2017.

[*Updated 14/03/18*]

Last night at our 2nd PDI (projected digital image) competition of the season, The Dubai Mall, Waiting for the Spectacle got a score of 9.5 out of 10 from Dr Ed Hyde LRPS

The three days I was in Dubai for work were jam packed with meetings so I didn’t have a chance to get out and see any sites in the daytime, but I did get out in the evenings. I took a number of photos in the evenings of that trip but it was the last night where I got the best images.

On the last night, we went to the Dubai Mall to see the nightly firework show and ascend the heights of the Burj Khalifa mega sky scrapper and believe it or not, it rained!

The Candidates

The Burj Khalifa is an amazing sight, it is 163 floors and 828 meters tall.

Burj Khalifa – hand held at 24mm, 0.4s, f/4.5 and ISO 640

At the base of the sky scrapper is a man made lake where every night there is an impressive fountain, light, music and fireworks display.

Dubai Mall Fountain Show – hand held at 24mm, 0.4s, f/5.0 and ISO 100

The lake is surrounded my living accommodation and a shopping center, called the Dubai Mall. In the photography people are standing outside to watch the display.

The Dubai Mall – 24mm, 1/30s, f/5.6 and ISO 1250

There are lots of steps and elevators before you even get to the lifts. I went up on my own so I could take a few photos.

Burj Khalifa Escalator – 24mm, 1/30s, f/5.6 and ISO 1250

The view from the top was incredible. With a bit of imagination I was able to drop the shutter speed and support myself against the window to get this shot of the traffic below.

Dubia E11 from Above – hand held at 0.6s, 73mm, f/4.0 and ISO 1250

The Winning Shot

Looking through my photographs, the one of people standing outside the Dubai Mall to watch the display was the one that really appealed to me. The silhouettes, geometry and lighting all vi for attention but the image needed work because there was too much distraction.

Whist I liked the coloured reflections from the shops under the people, it takes the eye away from the trees and silhouettes. Since the photograph was taken at a wide angle 24mm and the Mall is quite tall, the verticals start to diverge and cause the image to appear like it is leaning.

After a bit of cropping, some vertical alignment using Lightroom’s Guided Upright Perspective Correction and careful adjustment of the Exposure (+0.56), Highlights (-75), Shadows (-37) and Blacks (-10), I created this image.

The Dubia Mall, Waiting for the Spectacle


I think the final image is much more powerful. There is a limited colour palette and less of the mall to distract the eye. The verticals are now straight and the much closer crop now highlights the geometric shapes and interesting lighting of the trees.

I’ll find out what Molesey Photography Club think of it as I’ve entered it into the second PDI competition of the 2017/18 season. The judge will score it out of 10. I’d give it 10. What do you think?

 Kit Bag

    • Camera: Canon 5D MkIV
    • General Purpose: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM