Creative Workflow #7 / 14 comments + post
online tutorials

In this series of tutorials we take the creative process as our primary focus; i.e. rather than just discussing 'how' an image was constructed, we will also be considering 'why' each change was made, and how each change contributes to the image as a whole. As with our other image-based tutorials, each will also include a thorough technical discussion of any tools or techniques that were employed, but the emphasis will be upon creative rather than technical outcomes, e.g. how each image was constructed to tell a particular story, what each image says about its subject, and so on.


oldest comments first
comment by Ron Landis at 11:47 PM on 15 May, 2012


I wish I still traveled to the UK as much as I did in the early 2000s because I never fail to learn something new and intriguing from you. If only we were in the same space and time that I could take a workshop with you. Thank you for sharing your know-how. So often I've struggled with the mechanical to achieve the aesthetic pre-visualization, but I never fail to learn a new way or two from you.

Always grateful,


comment by Martin Marchyshyn at 03:25 AM on 16 May, 2012

David ... ditto for Ron's comment - don't get to travel to the UK any more, so missed an opportunity,

One question - where do I downlod the laytered imaged file. It's not obvious here - just need a link from the tutorial to do so.

Thanks for sharing your awesome techniques

comment by David Nightingale at 08:22 AM on 16 May, 2012

Ron and Martin: thanks, I'm glad you both found it useful. As for the PSD file, you can download it here:

comment by Ugo at 09:47 AM on 16 May, 2012

Hi David!

Thanks to release this new screen cast, I like very much how you turn an almost uninteresting flat image in something completely different and really vibrant.

I was wondering how about flipping the direction of the cyclist? It's kinda bothering me that he is facing the edge. Would it make a better composition or would you considering as cheating too much?

Best regards.


P.S. I'm in Dubai till summer any chance to see you here???

comment by David Nightingale at 10:13 AM on 16 May, 2012

Thanks Ugo, I'm glad you liked it. As for flipping the cyclist, no, I wouldn't consider it as cheating, but I've just tried it and prefer him cycling out of the frame. I think this is just a question of preference though - there's no right or wrong answer.

In terms of Dubai: no, I won't be out in Dubai again until The GPP FotoWeekend event in November, assuming I'm invited.

comment by Martin at 02:57 PM on 16 May, 2012

The cyclist leaving the frame caught me by surprise as well - flipping was my first reaction. IMHO, however, I ended up liking him leaving as he is - he is not the subject but is incidental to the sky rather than the center of attention. And is truly a "surprise" in the image - I like it a lot.
And thanks for pointing me to the file - not sure why I couldn't find it.

comment by Martin at 03:57 PM on 16 May, 2012

Thank you for another great tutorial. These videos always make me want to get out and shoot. :)

comment by Mark Bowen at 11:34 PM on 16 May, 2012

The end result on this one looks great although I'm just wondering do you not ever use Graduated ND filters at all? Just thinking that this may have been possible to shoot in camera perhaps?

Also which camera did you use for this shot? I've not downloaded the PSD yet as am away from main computer to view it but it looks from the video like this image was pulled massively away from what it started out as. Just wondering which camera was used as it must hold an enormous amount of data in order to be able to do that much pushing and pulling.

Again, a fantastic edit to an image though.

comment by Dan DIll at 11:48 PM on 16 May, 2012

May I offer, albeit timidly, that the original image recalled for me the soft subtlety of Rene Magritte's paintings, and so I was jarred to see that it was the beginning and not the end!

comment by David Nightingale at 04:16 PM on 17 May, 2012

Martin, Martin and Dan: thanks, it's much appreciated.

Mark: I do use ND grads, but it wouldn't have helped much with this shot as the problem was the lack of contrast in the sky, not the fact that it was brighter than the sand. And it was shot with my 5D Mark II, and while there is some visible noise in the high res' version it isn't really problematic. The key with shots like this is to make sure you expose as far to the right as possible: that way you maximise the amount of data you have to work with.

comment by Mark Bowen at 06:01 PM on 17 May, 2012

Hi David,

Thanks for the information there, much appreciated. Ah I guess a Polarizer may have helped here then for the contrast maybe?

comment by David Nightingale at 06:12 PM on 17 May, 2012

Thanks Mark, and yes, a polariser would probably have helped - the sun was in the right position - but given how overcast it was I don't think it would have made a huge difference.

comment by Mofeed at 06:02 AM on 22 May, 2012

Hi David,

I enjoyed and benefited a lot from this video tutorial.

I am better now with pre visualization and many other bits and pieces to add impact to my photos. I appreciate your time and effort put into this.

comment by Ron Landis at 12:20 AM on 15 July, 2012


I only just got around to reviewing this latest creative workflow. I never stop marveling at your mastery of not only Photoshop but your aesthetic composition instinct.

Following your logic through this image's transformation helps enormously in understanding that elusive notion of pre-visualization. I'm happy to say that in some cursory ways I have been thinking about the potential of a raw RAW file as you do, but I have a long way to go to get where you are. Still this is inspirational for me to persist in finding greater clarity to see where it is I want to go with a final photo.

Thank you.