(the making of) Across The Abyss

I wanted to shoot this idea for the 52 Week Project’s second theme, “Backlit” – but I didn’t get a chance to go to the desert and I had so much going on (in my head) that it was hard for me to get anything done. But I took a break and now I’m back – with a new image and a step-by-step of what I did! I’ve never written a tutorial before, so if anything isn’t clear, lemme know 🙂

About the 52 Week Project, I still haven’t figured out how it’s going to work, and Nadeem might not work on every theme with me because he’s super busy, but I will keep announcing a new theme. That is going to keep me committed, and excited, to post something new. Next theme is: color focus (photographs that are mainly made up of one color). I picked this randomly; I wrote down a bunch of themes in tiny papers and folded them and that’s how I’m going to pick a new theme every time 😀

Now, the new picture!

Across The Abyss
Across The Abyss 

This is usually how I start off before shooting an image – doodling and sketching whatever comes to mind. I don’t always stick to what I’ve written, but the initial idea is there. To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed sharing this, because when I try to describe an idea I have in my head, it’s like.. what is grammar haha


I shot quite a few pictures to get the right pose, and this is the one I chose:

I felt like the dress looked a little bulky, so I used the liquify tool to adjust it:


Then I duplicated the image and darkened the whole thing using curves, then masked it so that only the background would be dark.


Added the sky and extended the ladder
05More ladder 😀

Expanded the frame

 Then I added this image I shot a while back in Fujairah

Masked it to hide the sky because at this point I didn’t know if I wanted to keep the clouds

Then I used this image I shot back in December, set the mode to Hard Light at 59% opacity

I also added a soft grey layer to give it a bit of a haze

I was going to settle for that sky, but I wanted something a little more dramatic, so I added the sky from the picture of the mountains. I masked it to keep the clouds only, and adjusted it using curves to add reds and yellows.

Then I changed the blending mode to multiply at 36%

Now moving on to adjustment layers & textures

Hue/saturation: -25 saturation

Curves: increased the reds, decreased the greens, decreased the blues

Then I added a vignette using curves

Added this texture at soft light & 59% opacity

Erased it off the subject and added an exposure adjustment layer: offset +0.0042


Desaturated at -14 and added a selective color adjustment layer. In the Reds tab, I had cyan at -40, magenta at +1, yellow at 0, and black at +17. I did this mainly because after desaturating the whole image, the reds looked a little dull.

Added another curves adjustment layer and decreased the highlights in the blue tab to make it a bit yellow-er.

Added another texture and brightened the subject using curves

Used a brightness/contrast adjustment layer to add some contrast at +17, and another selective color adjustment layer to darken the dress (red > black: +40%)

To finish it off, did a stamp visible and added a reduce noise filter and that’s it 🙂

Across The Abyss

This was so much fun to shoot and edit, and it’s so different than what I usually do. I felt like it has SO much color and most of my work is desaturated, but I always love experimenting!
Do let me know if this helps you in any way, or if you have any questions 🙂

2014-2017 52 Week Project The Making Of

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Great work on this one! I’ve said that about your previous pieces, but this one I dig the most. I like the sun coming into the lens. The palette and composition, the whole thing works. Keep it up!

    I should start a 52 week project someday. Been getting lazier each each passing week after returning from Dubai.


  2. Amani, I found you and your pictures in your comments to Brooke Shaden’s blog, and I am very happy about it! You are such an inspiration to me and you seem to be a lovely person from what I can see “following” you for a short while now. Just wanted to let you know that you have a new follower who stops by to check if you have any new pictures, thoughts or anything else going on. Thank you for the tutorial and thank you for doing what you do.
    This picture amazes me – as are your other ones do, too!
    Love and hugs.


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