Two weeks ago I was going though my pictures looking for ones to be printed and hung in my apartment. Going through the images I saw this one of a weathervane with a blue sky and cloud background taken in Charlestown in Cornwall last summer. I remember taking it because it was two days before my wedding and it was the day that the weather turned for the better after several weeks of rain.
The original image was created as a HDR though Photomatix. The image is alright and quite interesting but I feel that it is missing something as it seems a bit average.
Instead of seeing what is wrong and right and then correcting it. I decided to process the image with a clean slate.
First I took the three exposures and processed them in HDR Efex.
These three exposures were in Jpeg files before being processed. I really dislike shooting in Jpeg but I did because i wanted the panoramic format. I could have shot it in Raw but it would mean having less precise composition at the time of being taken. Hopefully when I upgrade my G10 Canon will have found a solution to shooting all formats into Raw.
In HDR Efex there are several options to choose from. First i set the base exposure and choose an image to for the other to to be aligned to.
I increased the tonal compression and method strength slightly as well as giving the method strong depth (this setting really changes the amount of contrast). I set the detail to medium and drama to deep. Overall these are mainly changes to the contrast and the smoothness of the tones in the image.
Tonality works just like Camera Raw. I lowered the exposure as the HDR image was a little bright. I then brightened the shadows and highlighted. I set the black and white points to try and avoid any clipping as well as raising the mid tone contrast using the structure option.
I didn’t change the temperature but did raise the saturation. In this particular image I didn’t add any control points but I did add a vignette.
I used the place centre option which, enables you to place the centre of the vignette anywhere in the image. On this occasion I placed the centre of the vignette on the weathervane.
I added a slight ND filter and then adjusted the curves slightly to give the image overall more contrast.
Even from this point the image is looking a lot better. There is more depth in the sky which is the background for the main subject of the image, the weathervane. Even in the weathervane you can see slight imperfections in the metal with a mixture of light and shadow highlighting the worn areas. There are three defuse rays of light coming down from the top of the image form the sun breaking through the clouds above. The added drama in the clouds is interesting and just interesting enough not to take away the attention form the weathervane itself.
In Photoshop I added a levels adjustment layer. I pulled the white point down to brighten the whites.
Using Exposure 4 plugin, I converted the image to black and white using Kodak TMAX 100 toning and then added a duo tone of aqua and warm orange. I then applied a curves adjustment to adjust the contrast by darkening the shadows and the highlights .
I then dodged and burned the image using two layers filled with 50% grey. Using a low opacity and a soft brush I painted white and black on the layers. Using black to darken areas with white to lighten them. I zoom in close for the areas that are detailed.
You can see from just dodge and burn layers the areas that I darkened and lightened.
The image after dodging and burning. Using a large black brush I reinforced the vignette and darkened the weathervane slightly. I lightened the white of the clouds and broken rays of light.
I sharpened and reduced the noise of image. The last part of the edit was to add a vignette. Normally I would use the elliptical selection tool. This time I used a solid layer of black blended with overlay. On the layer mask I used a large brush and painted black with a low opacity (about 10%) Once I had revealed the centre of the vignette I reduced the opacity and in this case also reduced the fill of the layer.
Compared to the original, I like what I have created. The image has something extra to it. The weathervane fits more now with the drama in the clouds and the way they curve round the bottom of the image. The weathervane itself has the right amount of shadow and detail not clipped black. The layered vignette works well and looks natural and not over done with the brightness of the image catching the attention of the eye and moving it down to the weathervane.
What do you think of the image? Is there anything you like or dislike about the image? please let me know using the comment box below.