I mentioned this the other day on Google+, and I quite like the idea and how it evolved in my head, so let’s try it out and see what happens… it’ll be an interesting experiment on crowdsourcing and the reach of Google+!


Let’s get some basics out of the way… if you haven’t circled me in Google+ yet, head to my profile and circle me up.

To be able to submit to the contest, you need to be in my Google+ Photographers circle. I have to add you, so all you have to do is add a comment on the Google+ post, and I’ll go through regularly and ensure you’re in my Circle.

Concept & Contest

I find it fascinating how people respond differently to a photo depending on how it’s treated. If you take the same photo and make it saturated and bright, or B&W and dark, it’ll evoke completely different emotions and reactions. The treatment, or “look”, is up to the artist, and that look is often what separates a good photograph from a great one. Obviously you need a good photo to start with, but a good photo treated appropriately can quickly become great. It can also quickly become awful, or even confusing. A bright, colorful, saturated photo of a dark and depressing scene, or a dark and dismal rendering of a supposedly happy scene can be visually confusing—but still, neither is right or wrong.

As it is for all of us, adjusting a photo and creating a look for it is a process. Sometimes you know precisely how you intended to treat it when you shoot it, and other times, you’re looking at it on your computer screen weeks or months later thinking “what the heck do I do to this…”. You may try a variety of things until you have that “aha!” moment—but of course there’s no “right” treatment, and giving the same photo to 20 photographers will give you 20 results.

And that’s what I want to do here.

Below, I’m showing the original, untouched photo, and also my first variation of it. I’ve created about a dozen versions already, and will pick a different one to share every day for about a week. But I’ve also included the original, RAW file for you to download, and treat yourself, and share with the world!

I want to see what YOU do with it.

I decided to make this a contest, too… judged by YOU! And there’s a nifty prize at the end. Well, I think it’s nifty. But we’ll get to that. 


  • You can use any software, plugins, presets, or combination thereof to treat the photo. Color, B&W, HDR, whatev’s. Crop it or don’t. It’s up to you!
  • Share the post on Google+ so we can get as many people involved as possible! The more people that contribute, the more interesting it’ll be.


  • When you have a result to share, upload it to the shared album Image Editing Crowdsourcing Contest. (You have to navigate to it through Picassa to be able to upload, so just use that link).
  • Upload the photo at 1920 pixels wide, so we can all see it big.
  • In the photo caption:
    • Put your Google+ name, such as “by +Joseph Linaschke”. The Google+ view of the Picasa album doesn’t show the creator/uploader’s name, so this is important. You can see the creator through Picasa, but most people will be viewing through Google+.
    • Explain in as much detail as you can how you created your version. Unless it’s your secret sauce, but come on, this is all about sharing.
  • Submit as many versions as you like. No limits. But if you submit more than one, do make them utterly unique. No “this one is 0.1% darker than the other” versions, m’kay?


  • If you see a version you like, comment on it! Each comment counts as a vote.
  • I will look for the photo with the most comments, and *bam* that’s it, we have a winner.
  • Please don’t comment on the same photo 200 times to spike the results. I’ll see that and won’t let that photo win. My contest, my rules.
  • I’ll run this contest for a week, ending at the end of the day on Friday Aug 05, 2011.
  • If I’ve totally overlooked some obvious thing I reserve the right to update these rules and guidelines. 

The Prizes

Yes, this is all stuff that I’ve made… hey, this is my own little contest, not sponsored by a Big Company™, so this is what we’ve got to give! If the prizes don’t appeal (i.e. you aren’t an Aperture user, don’t shoot Canon and don’t have an iPad), you can always give the prizes to a friend. Participate for fame, not fortune! :-)

Enough Already, Let’s See the Original!

Download the original RAW file here (shot on a Panasonic GF1)

This is what it looks like.

The original, untouched photo. Taken in Bangkok, Thailand. Click to view larger.

My First Variation and How It Was Done

This is my first variation, and again I’ll continue to add more to the gallery, just like everyone else. But no, I can’t win. That’d be silly.

Treated in Aperture, using a preset (details below). Click to view larger.

This photo was treated entirely in Aperture 3, utilizing one of my own ApertureExpert presets, ApertureExpert PresetPack#1 Looks : Desaturated Film Look. This preset desaturates the image through a custom grain mask, which varies the desaturation based on the value of the mask. The saturation is actually set to zero, but because of the mask, some color remains. The mask looks like this:

This is a screenshot of the custom grain mask built into the preset

The preset also adds contrast to the image using the Curves tool, by creating an “S-curve”. This darkens the darks and brightens the lights while leaving the mid-tones the same. The curve looks like this:

Simple s-curve adjustment made in Aperture

That’s it, no further adjustments made.

Bring it on!

Ready to participate? Download the original photo, and upload your version. I can’t wait to see what you do!