This photo was taken during a trip on the Seine on a boat. The circumstances were about the worst you could imagine for photography. Four hundred people jammed into a boat which was enclosed mostly by glass and steaming into the sun on a very smoggy Paris afternoon. Great.. the temptation was to put the camera away and start drinking – the effort of trying to take any photo at all was almost too much. My only clear view was out the side of the boat, past a very active four year old and her long suffering mother. It wasn’t my ideal “boat ride for taking photos”, but it came included in the Paris Pass and who knew it would be this horrible?

Like the intrepid photographer I am, however, I persisted and I did get some usable photos, albeit ones that required a bit of help. Like this one taken out the front of the boat through about half an inch of scratched Perspex.

It is a view through four of the wonderful Paris bridges that we sailed through. The photo needed a lot of work. I gave the sky a miss – it just wasn’t there and, in the final analysis, I think the image is all the better for it not even being there. The biggest challenge was to extract some of the usable color and detail from the original image. It was autumn in Paris so there were hints of golden trees in the image which deserved to be brought out and the bridges were what it was all about. The mere fact that you could see all four bridges was spectacular.

I started the work by straightening the image – I find I can’t work on an image until I have it straight, it just bothers my eye when it’s out of square. To do this, I use the Photoshop Ruler tool to draw a line along the horizon or a vertical object that needs to be perpendicular. Then I choose Image, Rotate Canvas, Arbitrary. The exact angle from the Ruler is already there so all you have to do is click Ok. It’s simple and effective. For this image I used the top of the bridge as a ‘horizon’.

A few tricks with Levels and curves and the image gave up its magic and turned into what you see here. It’s one of my favourite shots – so far.

Helen Bradley