One-Four Challenge: February Week One

It’s a new month and so time for a new picture for Robyn’s One-Four Challenge.

Horses edit 1 .2

For this first edit I used Photoshop Elements. I began by cropping it a little off the bottom and sides. I then selected the smudge stick filter, which I set to a relatively low stroke length, highlight area and intensity. I didn’t want to distort the picture too much, just give it a slightly ‘painted’ look. Next I very slightly increased the brightness and contrast, just to make things pop a little more, and decreased the overall saturation to dull down the greens. Then I selected all of the yellow dandelions and increased their saturation, the ones in the foreground more than those further back . To finish off I decided that the bright area of background in the top left corner was a little too distracting to the eye, so I selected and darkened it to create a more even toned band across the whole of the top.

Here’s the original image:


This was taken last spring. There’s a farm on the edge of the village that has lots of white and brown ponies, regularly including foals. I love taking photos of them – though it’s rare in this particular field that I actually get a clear shot as there are only one or two breaks in the hedge. Luckily on this day these three were lying straight ahead of the gate. I would have liked to move a step or two to my left to line them up a little better (I would have liked the central pony’s head more to the right) but unfortunately there was a hedge in my way!

If anyone has any suggestions of edits they’d like to see, feel free to let me know. Last month I had several ideas from the start. This time I don’t.

28 thoughts on “One-Four Challenge: February Week One

  1. Hi Louise – this is such a lovely moment captured of these ponies – I really like the ‘stillness’ about the image.
    Your treatment gives it such an old feel for this first edition and I must say I do like your original as well.
    I think this image gives you many options and actually I don’t mind the offset background at all. Perhaps a Gradient or Neutral Density filter to give you a bit more control?
    Enjoy experimenting, I’m looking forward to the next ones!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Robyn. I’ve not tried using a gradient filter yet, so I might have to try that out on the next edit (I’m still relatively new to photo-editing). I’m very glad you like it. 🙂

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  2. Hey Louise great shot, I know what you mean about capturing the image when you can and making the best of it, ie through the fence.

    I like what you did with the cropping and the processing of the foreground. I viewed this on my iPad and laptop and on both the whites on the ponies are very bright and have lost detail which is a shame, I see the belly of the one lying down in the original is a bit bright but the detail is there for the other areas.

    There is a trick with White and Black Adjustment in LR where you can hold down the ALT key and move the slider at the same times and it shows you in colour blotches in the image where its appearing, so you have better visual control of applying how much you adjust. I don’t know if the same trick works in Elements tho. Often I find it wants way too much white and I dial it down a LOT!

    I could see what you were trying to do with the hedge, due to the quite oblique angle of the sun obviously across the subject I didn’t find the hedge too intrusive on the original but the very dark even treatment was quite top heavy. It would probably alter the perspective of the image too much to crop it off completely – maybe a gradient filter like Robyn says would allow a bit more exposure control?

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    1. Thank you for the feedback. I’ll have to try using a gradient filter – I’ve noticed other people using them on their edits and I’ve thought a few times now that I need to try it out. As I may have mentioned before, I’m still only just learning how to use photo-editing software so any tips are gratefully received. 🙂


      1. I know there is so much to learn with software, it seems like it never ends. I am very much having that experience with Photoshop, esp when I try do something I *want* to do but don’t understand how to use the software to achieve it.

        You are certainly on the right track with adjusting your black and white tones to add a more dynamic tone to the image, that was something I learned in a course I did last year. Its very easy to go too far and when you do that you lose detail and it becomes very bright or very dark splodges.

        The problem with that is our eyes are calibrated to look at the bright and dark areas in an image first so if you have them then that can distract from the actual image.

        Its why people go on about “exposing to the right” with the histograms on your camera, if you do that you are retaining more of the shadow detail that can be bought back if shot in raw.

        Luckily your original image HAD all that detail, so YAY 🙂

        I don’t use Elements myself so have no personal experience with what it can and can’t do. And given the whole point of the challenge is to try new things and hopefully learn from them, then I would say you totally won at that!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you again. 🙂 I am very much at the point of knowing what I want to do but not knowing how to achieve it with the software – I’m seriously considering signing up for a course to help me along my way. Most of what I do is purely instinctive (I like the look of it), I don’t know the technicalities or the reasons why it works. I’m loving learning, though!


      3. I was a bit like you with LR in that I had mastered as much as I could by myself but knew there must be more to learn. I got lucky and found an excellent online video course and have found those a far superior learning method than reading in books. I am sure there must be some out there for Elements!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the overall tone of the image. My advice would be the same as Robyns if you know how to add a gradient and also the contrast on the horses is a little strong for my taste, then again that is my taste. I think it is a good start to the challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Louise. I like the ponies and what you have done with the crop and dandelions. I do love your original though, with its softness and gentleness and feel the edit has lost some of that. But this is a personal view point. If you do like the painted effect and want more control than with the Elements pre sets, try downloading Foto Sketcher. Somebody else recommended it to me and I love it. It is free from

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    1. I might have to try Photo Sketcher. Thank you for the link. I actually like trying out all sorts of different effects. My current thoughts for next week’s edit are actually along the lines of soft and dreamy…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a sweet capture! The original says it all!! I’m about the same as you in terms of learning the what I can do. I’ve been struggling with PS on my own and have been pretty well at it after about 2 years! But I still have a lot to learn. I can barely understand what people are talking about half the time here but it’s a great place to learn! Keep it coming!

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    1. Thank you! I actually looked at this picture for last month but had no idea what I could do with it! At least after having had last month playing around with PS and reading and seeing other people’s edits I have a few ideas to try out. This challenge is definitely great for expanding your knowledge – I frequently have to to look up what people are talking about…!


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