Photography, Tutorials

Amish Wagon being Exposed – Tutorial

Recently I was sent an image to edit, the image was of Amish people in a horse and carriage going down a road into a sunset.  Because of the sunset, the foreground was very dark, so the trick was to see if I couldn’t lighten up the foreground.

Now, I have to explain, I used Photoshop for this tutorial because a lot of what I did to it, I haven’t been able to work out in GIMP.  This is a more complicated tutorial than what I normally show you, but I think it is good to show you what is possible.

So the image is open up in camera raw.  Even thought the image is a jpeg, it can still be processed in camera raw.

Here you can see that I have made a lot of changes.  One of the main ones, I moved the shadows slider more to the right, this way I could bring out more light from those.  I toned down the highlights and the whites, and did the same to the blacks as I did to the shadows.  Just have to be careful doing this, you don’t want to to go too far.  It still needs to look natural.

Still in camera raw I changed the shape of the image, I wanted to get the carriage more over on the left.  I also used the distort button to get rid of the lens problem.

I also cropped the image.  I know cropping isn’t always ideal, but sometimes you just have to do it.  This image was quite a large file, so it should still be alright.

I made use of the third lines when I was doing this.  The sunset ends on the top third line, and the carriage is on the first third line in.

Here you can see what I was saying.

Once the image is cropped I can work on different sections.  The first thing I wanted to do was to get rid of the refection on the road.  It is too distracting and as we want the carriage to be the main point of focus, the reflection had to go.

First of all I used the content aware tool.  I have circled it in red, then circled the area that I wanted to change.  Press Backspace then enter.  Photoshop then replaces that area with what is around it.

You can see here with this enlarged view, that the reflection is gone, but the area still doesn’t look great.

Next I used the patch tool.  The area I want to change was circled then you click inside the area and move it to another area that you want to replace it with.

I did this several times until I was happy with the area.

There is the road, and I hope you agree with me that it looks much better.

I wanted to see if I could make the carriage a little lighter, so I used the lasso tool to mark an area around the carriage and the ground, I am sure you can see the area I am talking about.  Next I got the feathering out and said 50 pixels.  You need to feather the edges so you don’t get a sharp edge to the area you are making lighter.

Then you click on curves and lighten it slightly, have to be careful doing this, it can start to look weird.  I probably went overboard a little, but it was done for effect for you.

Next, and lastly, I wanted to add some gradient.  You could do a vignette, but I find gradient more subtle and you have more control over it.  I wanted to tone the sky down some, it is very bright, and with the blown out bit where the sun is, there is nothing you can do with that, but putting a gradient tone over the top will take out some of the brightness.  I also did it to the road, you want to do everything you can to bring the focus to the carriage.

The gradient tool is used by clicking outside the image, hold the left mouse button down and then going over into the image and then releasing it where you want it to stop.

So here is the final image.

It is always going to be hard working with an image like this, and sometimes you can’t do anything to them.  This isn’t bad, and I know the woman who I edited it for was quite happy with the end result.

Something I have been considering, mainly through comments and stuff, is offering some online classes, or rather using something like skype on Google+, with Google+ I can give a tutorial and you will be able to see my desktop and what I am doing and ask me questions.  I will be able to demonstrate how I do the work.

Before I organise anything, I need to know first of all if people would be interested.  At first, I will do them for free, the first one or two, as I am sure there will be problems, and things will have to be sorted out.

Once the problems are sorted out I will charge for them, though, depending on how many people want to do them, but at this point I am thinking of charging around $10 per person.    I will also do a couple of different times, since we are all in different parts of the world.  I have a great website that tells me the time everywhere in the world and I will give that link to you as well.

So if you are interested let me, you can either leave a comment here or send me an email


I have once again been nominated for some awards.

I have received two nominations for the One Lovely Blog Award,

by Relative Perfection

and Frozen Moments

I have also received a nomination for the Very Inspiring Blog Award as well by Patriciaddrury,

Thank you very much to the three blogs, it is always lovely receiving nominations and I hope you will all go and check out their blogs.


  1. Thanks for this… I’ve been finding that I need to work on brightening several of my shots lately and this definitely helps point me in the right direction. Much appreciated and keep up the great work here. Great pointers!

    • That is always good to read, glad it has helped. I wonder why you need to brighten your shots, is your camera set on something strange? I will try and keep it up, thank you.

      • I was referring to some spur of the moment shots that I have taken in the past with my point and shoot Lumix. Occasionally, I’ve had it on an automatic setting that favored the light too much. Wanting to try fixing some of those to see if they are worth keeping.

  2. Michael Mulholland says

    You’re awesome! Wish I was as great as you are…

    • Thank you Michael, why can’t you be, it is just practice and a willingness to learn. So keep experimenting.

  3. You did a terrific job with the Amish buggy, Leanne. I’m definitely interested in your tutorials.

  4. A great instruction. You know so much about image working.
    For years ago I was in the amish land but I don’t visit them. I was on the way to the niagara falls.

    • Thanks Rob, it is a wonderful thing, I have to say, I love being able to do stuff. I can’t wait until I learn so much more and really know what I am doing.

  5. I was trying to watch some of the tutorials on my photoshop elements 9, but I really love yours… You are SO sweet to do these for us. You really have been helpful to me. :D Thanks!!

  6. saymber says

    Congrats on the awards Leanne (well deserved) and I love this picture! Reminds me of being on the East coast (Pennsylvania) and seeing this.

  7. Excellent re-working of this image, Leanne! I do hope readers/viewers are taking heed of these tutorials, then trying out things on their own images…as what you offer IS a valuable commodity!

    • That means a lot 1000, I hope so too. It is nice to do, but it is a struggle some weeks to work out what to do. I am thinking of doing online classes, do you think people pay me to teach them?

      • I really wouldn’t know, Leanne…the economy is so awful here in the States, lots of unemployment and people struggling just to keep their cars gassed up…not a lot of $$ left over at the end of the month.

        But I do think, if one is serious enough to learn more of the ‘real’ photographer’s ways with as many different software brands as you are proficient in, they would be willing to pay…I would, if I were that type of person, stymied by the fact their images just don’t look right and wish they could do something more with them. I speak from knowledge of being so very disappointed with Adobe’s Photoshop Help site these days…it used to be they simply explained steps; now, it’s just article after article which really do NOT answer a specific question.

        I’d say: Go for it…if it works, GREAT! If it doesn’t, you can always cut back on the tutorials and continue to present your fantastically beautiful imagery!

      • The economy is terrible here horrible here as well.
        I am getting a lot of inquiries, or is it enquiries, from people about doing them. Every week someone else is asking me if I would consider one on one online classes. My biggest problem is working out what to charge. What I think my knowledge is worth, and then there is that whole thing of, am I really good enough to think that I could teach people how to edit there photos. I think I lack confidence.
        My husband says the same as you, just do it and see what happens. Thank you for your thoughts about this, I really do appreciate it.

  8. the photographer saw something beautiful and shot it. you imagined something beautiful and created it. a very good tutorial and a lovely save of a good idea!

    • Thank you spree, it is interesting working on other peoples work. She was very happy with it, so that makes it worth it.

  9. What version of PS are you using? I think it must be newer than mine which is a couple of years old. Great tutorial. Now, if I can find all the various functions…

    • I am using CS6, some of the stuff you may not be able to do, but most you should, the moving the image in that funny way, or the content aware may be different. I hope you can find those functions. Thanks

  10. A very useful tutorial…. i love photoshop and i always try to learn it but can’t :( i don’t know where to get help from… most of the youtube tutorials are not good

    • Thank you lalarukh36, I love photoshop as well. It can be complicated to learn. I am going to start offering some online classes I think, there seems to be enough interest. I will post details about them soon. I am thinking of trying a group tute on this tutorial, so if you are interested, send me an email so we can set up times with everyone.

  11. You’re always amazing but you’ve outdone yourself! One day you must come and vacation in Pa and take these photos yourself and most important you must stay with me and let me be your tour guide!

    • Thank you Bonnie. I really would like to do that one day. Your area looks so wonderful and it would be fantastic to have you show me around. One day. When my girls aren’t so dependent.

      • Haha, I meant, that my girls will be finishing high school next year, so I need to be around for at least that amount of time. I hope after that I will have time to see the world.

  12. Hi Leanne. Firstly thanks for the “like.” Bermagui Tree Change is a new blog – I’m planning on it getting better and better and more and more beautiful. Seriously thinking your blog will help. I have another one – again only just started Bermagui Time. All started with the blog 63 George Street Thirroul, a successful attempt to sell our home. Nice photos (how vain I am) there too. Thanks again. Great to get aacknowledgement from someone in Aus.

  13. petit4chocolatier says

    I love your tutorials. Great work. The picture does look so much better now. Congratulations on your award, well deserved! I cannot wait to check out the blogs you mentioned!

    • That is great to hear petit4chocolatier, the person who took it thought so as well. Thanks about the awards as well, it is always lovely when your work is appreciated. I hope you enjoyed their blogs as well. Thank you.

    • Haha, I did approach them about software, and I never heard back from them. They are not an easy company to deal with.

  14. Very well presented tutorial. I would have kept some of the glow in the sky but that’s just personal taste. The gradient tool can be a bit blunt. I actually took some processing lessons by Skype. If you are interested I can share what sort of problems arose and what the cost was!!

    • Thanks Andrew, I am starting to see that, I love the gradient tool, however I can understand why people don’t. Yes, please let me know how you went and the cost. I have used Google+, I used it with someone when she couldn’t work out how to do something in one of my tutorials, it was great.

  15. Great tutorial and lovely pictures, here, and the rest of your blog. Photography has always been a hobby of mine, and something that I would love to pursue as far as possible. I design and create jewelry and have my own jewelry line, and I would love to one day be able to consider myself an artist in the field of photography as well. You are very talented and I will definitely be following your blog from hereon out.

    • It sounds like you should already be calling yourself an artist. I have seen some of the work that students studying photography do, and I have to say, if you can hold a camera and take a photo then you are an artist. Haha. I love photography and it is always fantastic when someone else aspires to do what I do, so thank you very much.

  16. Wow, you’ve transformed an unsuccessful snap into a item of beautiful art… I know you’ve used technical tools but the eye you have and the feel for the work is innate to you – you have a great talent :)

  17. hutchphotography2020 says

    You work hard. You’ve earned the recognition : )

  18. Perfect Moment Photography by Brandy Smith says

    Very good tutorial, and very beautiful photography! Love it!

  19. Thank you so much for the tutorial, Leanne! It’s so helpful to me. I don’t think I would pay to take a class with you at the moment because I’m not a photographer. But I think people who ARE photographers, or interested in becoming one, would most certainly sign up with classes with you if you don’t charge too much. Not because your knowledge isn’t worth a lot, because it is, but because with the economy today most people just wouldn’t be able to afford a very expensive class. I just took a class in my profession that cost $40 and at the moment that is the most that I can invest in something pertaining to my career.

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