Selective Focus Wedding Kiss Black & White

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 200 1/500th strobist: SB-600 hotshoe mounted TTL

What I wanted to make the focus of this image, was the kiss.  Yet I did not want to do this simply by cropping way in on the bride and groom.  My original idea was to just use a holga filter on the image, but I did not like the grain for this shot.  I wanted more of an ethereal look to the shot, rather than historic.  I also wanted to isolate the couple from the distracting background.  The way to achieve this look did not come to me all at once.  I tried one thing, which led to another, which ultimately lead to the final image you see above.

Here is the step-by-step editing workflow I followed: 

  • import RAW file into Aperture 3
  • increase the vibrancy slider
  • send image into Color Efex Pro 3, apply polarization, pro contrast, & remove color cast filters
  • send 16-bit TIFF version into Photoshop CS5 to remove blemishes & sharpen with unsharp mask (save & close)
  • via Aperture try holga filter in Silver Efex Pro 3 (do not like result)
  • send 16-bit TIFF back into PS CS5 and magic wand select the couple, reverse selection, apply gaussian blur to the selection (save & close)
  • via Aperture use Silver Efex Pro 3 to apply high structure filter, add vignette, burn bottom edge (finished!) 

It took me a good bit of time, like over 15 minutes, but I really like working on experimental processing projects like this, when I have the time.  The original (well, only did first three bullets to it) is below.  What do you think?  Which do you prefer, original or selective focus black & white, both or neither?  Why?

the "original" image