When I was in Brighton we had one beautiful summer like Sunday when everyone was walking along the beach and it was all so gorgeous and then, next day, it rained cats and dogs.

Here’s a photo I took from my hotel room window across the roofs of Brighton the day it rained. I don’t think the windows of the Queens Hotel had been washed since good ol’ Queen Vic gave her name to the hotel so they were pretty interesting to shoot through and, of course, they only opened 6in from the bottom so shooting through the gap was impossible.

The original was flat and lifeless as one might expect. A Levels adjustment is a great starting point for a photo like this. Simply choose Layers, New Adjustment Layer and then choose Levels. Drag the little triangle sliders in from the left and the right till they are just under the places where the chart data begins and ends. This darkens the darks and lightens the lights and instantly boosts the tonal range in the image and gives it more contrast and life. The middle slider handles the midtones so you can drag it to the right or left as required for your image.

For the rest of this image I worked hard to get the colour and detail back. The cream buildings in the background were treated independently of everything else as they just kept getting lost in every solution I tried. Masks are great for this, fix one part of the image with adjustment layers, then hide the adjustment layer and work with another one focusing on the other part of the image. Then, use the mask on each adjustment layer to paint in or remove the fix from areas of the image. When I want most of the fix I just paint in black over the areas that I don’t want the fix to be applied to. When I only want little bits affected by the mask, I fill the mask with black (white reveals, black conceals), then paint with a low opacity, soft white brush to bring back the fix in the small areas that it is needed.

I also used the Selected Color adjustment on this image, I’ll talk more about it in a future blog post.

Helen Bradley