Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Photo BTS Tuesday!

This post is basically my way of escaping revision! I'm sat in my room (where I've been for what seems like days...without leaving) surrounded by lecture notes. Luckily for you (depending on how lucky you feel about reading a random blog post) my general disinterest in aquatic vertebrate respiratory systems has brought you another Photo BTS.

I took this image a little while back at Trow Point, South Shields on the North East Coast. The shot was made a short while after the sun came up, which gave that lovely soft and wrapping light along with the tell tale vibrant colours of dawn. I was really attracted to the light on the water this morning, especially in the shallows right at the water's edge. One thing I love about this bay is the textured rocks that vary in size and form and look great through the mistiness of moving waves.

Framing this image took some thought as I felt placing the horizon directly on a third lent a slightly unbalanced feeling to the picture; it gave me a fairly blank and distracting area of blue sky at the very top of the frame and I lost some foreground interest in the yellow rock. I opted to lower the camera slightly, putting the horizon a little more towards the centre

 As seems to be the way with my “golden hour” shoots, something was bound to go wrong. Everything was going swimmingly (not literally I’m thankful to say) until a random group of school lads turned up out of nowhere and began hurling rocks at each other on the platform. We’re talking 6am here people, most 14 year olds would I had presumed have still been in bed, rationing every blissful second of unconsciousness before a day at school (it was a Monday If I remember) and yet here they were, quite happily dodging missiles right where I didn’t want them; in the middle of my viewfinder… I managed to grab a few shots in between feigned screams of pain (hence the image you see here) and then with as little subtlety as I could possible I moved forward to the waterline and waited for either a sharp blow to the back of the head with one of those wonderfully textured rocks or for them to get the message. Thankfully they got the message!

Post processing

Very little was done to this image in Photoshop. I manually merged 2 of the bracketed exposures to increase detail in the highlights and worked on the foreground almost entirely in Camera Raw. Firstly I used ACR’s Grad Filter tool to brighten the foreground rocks by around half a stop and then used the Adjustment Brush to add some localised contrast and clarity. As with all my images the first step was to add an automatic camera/lens profile within ACR. This made the raw file look far better in a single click. I also added some slight sharpening, utilizing a high value on the Masking slider to avoid bringing out noise in the flat tones such as the surface of the water.

To merge the exposures I simply opened both images in Photoshop, copying the ‘sky’ file on top of the exposure for the foreground (Ctrl (Command for Mac) + A and then Ctrl + V) I then used the Quick Selection Tool to select the sky and headed to the ‘Refine Edge’ control, where I checked the ‘Smart Radius’ box and moved the slider to around 3 pixels. This gave me a smoother blend of the two images. Adding a layer mask immediately ‘masked-in’ the foreground image and that was it; I had a merge of the sky exposure and the brighter file for the ground.  I guess I could have tone mapped the files but didn’t feel HDR would give me the look I was after in this case; I wanted something more subtle.
So there you are – a quick lesson in manual image blending and how to avoid being stoned to death by feral children at dawn. Afterwards they just sat down and watched the sun rise, which considering their chavvy nature seemed a little out of character to me!  Awww….
Check back next time J
See ya