There are many ways to look at a photograph, and no guarantee that the viewer will see it as I would like him or her to see it. My goal when editing is to compel the viewer to see the image in the way that I want him/her to see it.
In the case of this photo, shot in Two Harbors, Minnesota, I wanted the viewer to focus on a) the painted brick wall with the Coca-Cola sign and b) the width of the streets. Both, to my mind, are emblematic of small towns in the US and Canada.
I did three things to emphasize these two elements of the image (and, at the same time, de-emphasize other elements I did not want to be foremost in viewer's sight).
First, and most simply, I cropped. In the AFTER image the crop made the white-brick wall and the asphalt much more prominent.
Second, I added vignetting - graduated darkening and blurring around the edges of the frame. I put the white-brick wall at the center of the vignetting effect - the area with no darkening or blurring. This immediately draws the viewer's eye to the wall. It also de-emphasizes distracting elements like the the buildings across the street, and the parked cars.
After these steps I was still bothered by the lingering distraction of the parked car on the left side of the street under the white awning. So step three was to remove the car by cloning. Some fussy, close-up detail work was required to make the result of the clone look believable.
These three steps gave the image a basic structure I was happy with. But there was still work to be done.
I removed the blue color cast from the white-brick wall, and applied a perspective correction to straighten the lines of the building. (Notice how the roof line tilts up to the right in the BEFORE image.) I also bumped up the vibrancy of the Cola-Cola sign a little. And I did fine contrast and tone curve adjustments on the wall to enhance the texture of the brick and brightness of the wall.
I removed the red color cast from the asphalt - I like asphalt to look black and white lines to look white!
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