Church of Saint Wyllow

This image for some reason is left over from last year, like a lot of images I have on my edit to do list. For some reason I just get backed up. Maybe it is because I take images and want to edit them because they are fresh in my memory. Then again I like it when I go back through my Digital negative archive and find images like these. This image was shot not with Raw but Jpeg because at the time I only took out my film camera and high jacked a friend’s camera and copied over my shots when we got back.

The Image was taken near Fowey in Cornwall of The Church of Saint Willow.

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The original image was opened in Camera Raw. The image was not well exposed when taken, so the first thing I needed to do was to correct its exposure and balance of the image. I wanted to bring out the detail in the church without clipping existing details. I don’t really like the buildings in the back ground of the horizon so this is something I will also need to either crop out or change in the image.Untitled-1

I first straightened the image using the tower of the church as a reference point. Next I corrected the colour balance; it is too cold and needs to be warmed up a little.
I then moved on to the exposure raised it slightly and then set the white and black points before I moved on.  I then adjusted the highlight and shadow detail by moving the highlights down and the shadows up. I did this to try and create more midtones in the image.
Finally i raised the contrast and midtone contrast (through the clarity slider). I then adjusted the colour tone of the image by raising the vibrance but lowering the saturation slightly.

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I then made some local adjustments. I dodged the church tower on the shadow side and slightly burned in the highlighted face. I also used the gradient tool to darken the sky a little after all my earlier adjustments.

 

The image now looks pretty good as a starting point so I am quite happy.
I decided at this point to make the image black and white. The image is quite fussy; the main focus is the church rising out of the wooded area surrounded by trees with open space falling back into the background. But the trees distract from the church pulling your eye to the buildings in the background. For the image to work I will need to selectively focus the church in Photoshop and make these adjustments before converting the image to black and white.

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The selective focusing process I used the same technique as in my  tilt shift tutorial. Taking the image and making three different filter blur adjustments on three different layers and then masking them into the image. Once completed i turned the image into a smart object and converted the image to black and white.Untitled-5

 

I used Exposure 4 for my conversion, using the Tri-x 400 toning. Whenever using the Exposure4 plugin I always think about what film I would have used when taking the shot and then apply that filter.
Tri-x 400 creates a nice contrasted image with smooth tones. The trees are a dark grey tone which is contrasted against the lighter tone of the church bringing your eye from the trees to the church. The only problem I faced at this stage was that my blurring had not worked on the background of the image. I went back into the smart object and corrected it by lowering the amount of blur.

Next I dodged and burned the image using a 50% grey layer set to overlay. I painted white to dodge the area and black to burn it. I did this with a low opacity brush gently building up the effect.
The main areas on interest were the church and the background. I wanted to dodge the church to pull back some of the details from the conversion and burn the background to make it a little darker.

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With my next step i continued toning the image and added two new curve layers with each adjusting a different area of the image; one was for the foreground and one for the back. I used the layer mask to make sure these adjustments were selective and blended well together.

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The foreground adjustment lightened the trees and the Church  while the adjustment on the background gently made it darker.

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Although the contrast and toning composition was making the church the central point I took another step to make it more prominent. I used the elliptical lasso tool to create a selection around the church. I feathered the selection by 200px and then inverted the selection and filled the area with black. I set blending mode to overlay and adjusted the opacity and then duplicated the layer and set the blending to multiply and reduced the opacity again.

 

With this vignette compositionally I pulled the eye to the church and it worked well with the blurring effect I created at the beginning of the process.

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To add a last bit of detail I added a hue and saturation layer with a green/cyan hue and lowered the opacity. I did this just to give the image a little depth and to bring out details in the lighter tones.

Finally I cropped the image using the guides to give me the best composition. I placed the joining of the roof to the tower at the intersection of the bottom right third quadrant.

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Overall I am quite happy with the image. Although the quality of the base image was not as i am used to the subtle building of layers has produced a nice image. The selective focusing and the vignetting has worked brilliantly together to draw focus to the church  with the dodging and burning i have been able to preserve and highlight details in the church itself. The final cropping has removed the buildings on the right. this has greatly improved the image.

What do you think? let me know using the comment box below.

 

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