Transformation: Transforming an Ugly Duckling into a Beautiful Swan, First Example

March 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I was recently on a trip to Argentina and Chile, which was fantastic.  One of our adventures was taking the day long bus tour through the city.  The bus had an open air second floor and a ground floor that was enclosed; a typical double decker sightseeing bus.

The bus posed a few challenges while trying to photograph various scenes in the city.  There were scheduled stops, but the sightseeing dialog and the sites were always in transit.  While reading about the trip, I knew that there was an interesting building that had a mural-type depiction of Evita....and I wanted a shot of that!

Naturally getting that shot on a moving bus when turning a corner turned out to be a disappointment.  Here is my original image:

Original imageOriginal image


We never really stopped close by and our hotel was not very close to this site at all.  So, I thought I would use my iPad and the photo app, Snapseed, to make a series of transformations using simple edits within the app.  Before I walk you through the steps, let me share the final photo which in my mind represents my vision of what I wanted the photo to look like.....To me, it represents a BEAUTIFUL SWAN!


Eighth change:  Vintage filter and adjustmentsEighth change: Vintage filter and adjustments

So, why does it represent a BEAUTIFUL SWAN to me?  In my mind I envisioned a photo that would represent Evita and her role as being the First Lady of Argentina from the mid 40's to the early 50's, with tones that would evoke that period of time.  I wanted something that was vintage and a bit gritty.  I also wanted to focus on the mural of her, with as many distracting elements out of the way.  And, I wanted something that I could use in slideshows and presentations when showing to family and friends that evoked what Buenos Aires meant to me during our visit.  I am planning on using this shot as a lead photo in a slideshow about our trip time in Argentina and Buenos Aires.

Now, the steps to transform from the original UGLY DUCKLING to my vision of a BEAUTIFUL SWAN.

Because I was on the bus, the image was not straight at all.  So, within the photo app, Snapseed, I used the straighten tool to get to this:

First change:  Straighten the imageFirst change: Straighten the image


But in my mind, the image was a bit too cluttered with the people hustling to the bus stop, so I tried a series of different crops each one isolating a portion of the photo even more.  I have to admit when I started this process of cropping, my original intent was to just get rid of a bit of the clutter in the foreground and then work on other aspects of the photo.


Second change:  Initial cropSecond change: Initial crop

When I did this once before, I stopped here.  It shows the bus stop and the building with Evita's image in the background.  But I thought I would explore changing my perspective a little more, by cropping even further.  Although I have to admit that this image with a little more work would truly represent the environment around the mural and give you a better sense of Buenos Aires, the city.


Third change:  Second cropThird change: Second crop

Once I saw this crop, I thought it was fairly intriguing and shows the building and the image of Evita.  What distracted me, however, was the lightpost right in the center of the photo.  To me, it was extremely distracting and took away from the impact of the image and at the focus on Evita's mural.  Either I remove it using a healing brush or clone stamp tool in Photoshop, or I try to see what would happen if I cropped even further.


So, cropping away, I got this image....I was very pleased with the result initially.  In my mind, it captures the essence of the mural and the spirit of Evita.  However, I wanted to see if I could transform the image a bit more.


Fourth Change: Third cropFourth Change: Third crop

To further the transformation, I thought I would play around with B&W, filters, and then vintage toning.  I envisioned that the B&W and the vintage filters would help to represent the era of the 40's and 50's; the era when Evita thrived and had her immense impact and appeal.  Each photo app iteration caused me to change my perspective about the image and get it closer to what I was envisioning when I first took the photo.  


So again, here is the Transformation..

Original imageOriginal image Eighth change:  Vintage filter and adjustmentsEighth change: Vintage filter and adjustments


















I am also planning on working with one of the earlier images to get that vintage look with more of the environment around it so you can tell it's a mural in Buenos Aires.  I will use these two companion pieces in my slideshows about Buenos Aires and what the city meant to me.


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