Jeffs editing portfolio

before and after



“Best In Show”

Jeff Skalla

My most controversial image… Lets be very clear here, this is not a photo but rather a graphic manipulation! Why? Lots of people have asked this. I have dreamed of shooting this boulder ever since seeing a photo of it on Instagram. I was stunned at how beautiful this was in real life! A little intimidated too… I had to do the area justice!

I found the angle for the boulder that I had pictured shooting, wolf head howling towards the sky, the double arete proudly shown. All that it was missing was the background just two frames to the left! If I moved to the right the double arete would disappear behind the boulder; not an option… Horizontal pano? While this would work, one frame of empty space would separate the background from the boulder which I didn’t love the look of.

So Photoshop.

Notice the road in the background. Its the same road my dad drove my siblings and I down as kids for spring backpacking tips in Salt Creek Canyon! So many memories from that road and that canyon. I still remember driving through Indian Creek and seeing climbers spread out on the splitters that shoot up the valleys walls. Because of these memories, sentimental value was added to that background! This was a driving reason in the use of Photoshop. The photo was made for me and my family, who knew it would be seen by so many people due to one repost!

Being a graphic manipulation I won’t dive into the editing thoughts here but more want to put out a general statement to always be honest about whats real! This is Photoshop, but most of my images are real. I like it.


Stand Up Comedian

Madeline Strother

Deeeepth! I love depth and that was the idea behind this shot! Wide shots lead to distortion (see raw, really stretched things out…) but nothing a little liquify in Photoshop cant fix! The reason why it was so distorted was because the photo is actually a slightly botched panorama since I only have two lenses which couldn’t capture it quite right!

I’ve shot this boulder before so the goal was to simply be different. One shot was focused on movement, one old shot on the person, and this one for depth! I wanted to show the environment in a new way. I was looking for an almost three dimensional feel to it (which I achieved by taking a wide shot while being relatively close to my subject), I wanted to show the gorgeous sunset happening above, and finally to bring out the color of the surrounding environment.

In camera I used some tricks to add to the depth of my shot while also under exposing the shot to be pulled back into reality in post. I cant stress the use of a histogram enough! It looks black, but is it really? Ask your histogram. Also, to add to the depth I just had to do a little dodging and burning!

In my Adobe apps the focus was on color! Color balance, hue/saturation, curves, and vibrance/saturation adjustment layers were all used to bring this photo to life! I love color… Its probably my favorite aspect of photography, hence why you don’t see many black and white photos on this website! The way the colors that occur in nature naturally contrast each other is pretty fascinating.


“Basketball Diaries”

Jeff Skalla

Ooh what a process… I was alone in Moab, UT with a tripod and a time delayed burst mode on my Sony. This only took about 9 attempts to get the shot… Check out the raw, a little dark, right? VERY RIGHT! As I was distracted attempting to nail the move I let my exposure drop into an almost unusable amount of black clipping on my histogram, like a lot of clipping… My face in this photo was a challenge! I had to use a few tricks with layer masks, dodge/ burn tool, and a curves adjustment layer to make it look passable. Honestly not sure how I pulled it off…

Bottom right of the image you can see my reflector. Sometimes I’ll throw it below a climber to bounce just a little more light up, like in this case. Even with no light directly hitting the reflector it can still bounce some light and make those dark shadows not quite as dark. Its only in this shot since I didn’t plan it very well!

My face was definitely the crux of the edit… Suuuuper dark shadows! With light we need to use it to sculpt our subject but when no light hits an area the depth and real-ness are lost. So much dodging and burning and curves layers and more! Lesson here: DONT UNDEREXPOSE TOO MUCH! Its a pain…


No Substance

Jenn Debellis

Whats an approach? Always funny hearing the approach times on a lot of climbs up Joes Valley, this one being about 20 seconds! I feel like a ton of other photogs try to crop out the unnatural elements (Roads, power lines, etc.). I used to do this a lot until I heard a lot of people look at and save photos because they want to go there themselves. It’d be kinda weird to see a ton of photos of this climb out in nature being all remote and stuff, and then show up to this 20 second approach! I don’t really mind the roadside climbing, kinda nice sometimes not having to hike all those pads in. I included the road cause its definitely a noticeable feature on this climb! Another perk of this angle is that we can see every point of contact on the wall and even have our subjects face in the image which adds a lot!

I really like the colors in this photo. Yellow at the top, green at the bottom, and some orange on my subject which helps her stand out with a different color and not blend in, but also fit in with that fall vibe I was going for.

I see a lot of these perfectly setup and manicured shots on insta; no backpacks, jackets, and shoes lying around. Pictured here is a pretty common sight for me though, its not pretty but I don’t think its too distracting and shows what its really like out there. Idk, to each their own. I personally didn’t care to clean it up before the photo.