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  • Frank Scalici

How to change a photograph.

The following photograph has been one of my most successful pictures to date and amassed over 1K likes and interactions on Facebook! It's a simple but effective image detailing the very famous 'Hallgrímskirkja' church in central Reykjavík. I decided to create a short blog post about this because it's an interesting analysis on how to approach and take advantage of a subject.


Timing is particularly important when photographing subjects and in the case of Hallgrímskirkja church, it's no exception. I took this photograph during a small window of heavy snow and I remember just how cold it really was. I was only out for about 10 minutes and as I had already visited the area before and knew where the better spots were to take a photo. It's important to note that this particular church can look very flat when captured face on, as it's structure is very minimal, it really doesn't have a lot to play compositionally speaking. I found this particular angle to be the most pleasing as it gave the church much needed body and stability. The snow brought a different character and provided me with an almost action like shot. So... timing and location in this instance came hand in hand and worked in my favour.

Managing external circumstances:

Tourism around this area is heavy and can sometimes be pretty saturated. I was fortunate during these 10 minutes as the weather conditions meant there were far fewer tourists to deal with when it came to eliminating people in post production. Of course, editing in Lightroom was always inevitable and it's important to me to strive to photograph and edit something that has balance. The following photograph below details the before and after shot, what I eliminated and how this made my photograph look far more professional. One of the most essential parts of the editing process (as this building is all about perspective) was managing the warping effect from the wide angle lens. A wide angle lens can sometimes warp an image, to the point where the perspective and angle look off to the human eye. I corrected this in Lightroom using the lens correction tool, which allows a user to increase or decrease the mass of an image. In the RAW photograph, you can see how the centre of the church is very large, I decreased this in order to achieve the desired look.

Exposure, contrast, dehaze and other elements of post production were also manipulated in order to make the church shine a little more and become the real centre of attention. I essentially wanted to convey some sort of solitude with this photograph, while still keeping things simple and technically sharp.


The idea of cropping an image is always difficult with me. I don't wan't to loose aspects of a photograph that I would like to keep so in order to reduce cropping I really pay attention to the corners of my image when taking a shot. I constantly look at how things are proportionally and structurally placed in the moment of taking a picture. However, this is not always the case and when photographing Hallgrímskirkja, I already knew that elements were going to be present on either side of the church. Cropping was therefore essential to reducing the amount of work in post and to better represent this shot.

There were also several aspects I edited manually with this photograph in order to achieve the overall look and finish. The following screenshots detail in 'red' what areas I changed or manipulated.

This screenshots demonstrates how I manipulated the bottom half of the photograph by adding a gradient and controlling aspects like exposure, black, whites, highlights and overall contrasts.

This screenshot demonstrates a use of vignetting, a common editing technique with many photographers in order to pull focus to the centre of an image.

The following screenshot is even more specific and a technique that I use in many of my landscape photographs. By isolating the sky with the paint brush tool I am able to focus on editing this separately and control the texture in order to smoothen the overall appearance and reduce noise.