Like a Ton of Bricks
There's a lot of talk about whether things should be done "in camera" or "in post-production", and photographers often find pride in the idea of nailing a shot at capture time, requiring as little post-production as possible. "We'll just fix it in Photoshop" is the lazy photographer's motto, as they say. I understand the feeling, but whatever gets the final image done more efficiently is what really matters.
Often, tweaking a light or moving things around by a few inches takes no time and makes a big difference, so in that case, it's better to do it at capture time. Yet sometimes you could spend an hour fiddling on set when it'd be a quick fix in Photoshop, which would save everybody a lot of time.
Well, sometimes, there simply is no choice but to do things in post-production. Take the façade of this (otherwise beautiful) building I had to photograph.
Yeah, seriously. Ouch!
There was no way to get rid of the telephone poles and the countless cables, we couldn't move the poster (bottom-right of the building, behind the pole), we couldn't get rid of the cars and we could neither decide which cars would be parked there. What can you possibly do to make your life easier in such a situation?
The only thing going for me was the fact that the façade is nearly flat, so it would be somewhat simpler to clean-up than if the building had been shot at an angle (like the image of the back of the building I had made a few months earlier). One thing I could attempt was to take a second shot a few feet to the side to get as much of the "clean" building as possible.
Same angle, a few feet to the right. Notice how it reveals hidden parts of the building.
It was still a massive amount of clean-up to do, but at least I had more raw material to patch from that I didn't have to invent, since I was now seeing "behind" the telephone poles.
I have been multiple times at the location, at the crack of dawn, but this was the only time I went when two of the three cars parked were acceptable (recent, clean, of a sober color, etc.), but there was still no way I could live with the car on the left, which was rusty and parked all wrong. Considering how deep into Photoshop I was going to be for the rest of the image, swapping a car was the least of my worries. I just had to find a more suitable car—which I did, less than a block away.
There it is!
I positioned it in the frame roughly where the ugly car was located to get the right perspective, and voilà: I had my replacement car. A Jaguar, a BMW and a brand new Fiat—if I was going to have to live with cars in the shot, I could have done a lot worse!
All that remained was twelve hours of meticulous Photoshop... Here are a few of the highlights.
Cables, cables, more cables:
The poster behind the pole:
Because of the point of view, using a super wide-angle lens, it gave the impression that the series of windows in the middle were not lined up with the others, when in fact, in the projection of the front of the building (when looking at the building from higher up, not street level), they are. Some careful moving and stretching was required to make this work, to restore the intended impression of balance:
And here is the final image:
The façade like you will never see it.
This beautiful building was designed by architect Guillaume Lévesque.