A Little Insight Into My Development Process

When somebody asks me whether my images are “Photoshopped”, I have no idea what they mean. But here’s how I work:

This was an image for a stone manufacturing company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were putting together a portfolio and needed images of their work as it was installed.

I knew this site would be trouble because I was shooting into the sun. I don’t have artificial lighting big enough to flood fill the entire house (just an SB600 flash, heh), and I didn’t have the time to set up a mess of stuff even if I did have it.

So, two exposures. One for the ground, the other for the sky.

The Ground
[super]ISO 200, 12mm, F/8, 0.8 sec[/super]

The purple window is from my polarizing filter. I kinda like it, so I’m leaving it there.

The purple window is from my polarizing filter. I kinda like it, so I’m leaving it there.

Then, a totally separate image (and for the love of god, adjust the exposure without bumping the tripod. Use a cable release if you have one, or hope it ain’t windy.)

The Sky
[super]ISO 200, 12mm, F/8, 1/6 sec[/super]

05-_DSC7208


Adjustments
All adjustments are done in Adobe Lightroom.

Adjustments for The Ground
( basic , HSL )

  • white balance. warmer : from 5000/-4 to 6167/+4
  • recovery, contrast, little fill light
  • increase saturation : yellow and green
  • decrease saturation : red, and a little blue
  • reduce luminance : blue, some orange
  • crop (which I shouldn’t have done so early.. but hey, this is how you learn)

which creates this:

The sky may be blown-out, but not for long.

The sky may be blown-out, but not for long.

Adjustments for The Sky

Basic

  • white balance : cold, stupid cold. from 5250/-3 to 3905/-7
  • high recovery
  • complete fill light. This might not work on most images. I wanted to practically eliminate the darks so the interface between this and the “ground” image above isn’t so jarring.
  • raise the black level just a little because it started to look sickly. This also saturates the color slightly (not sure why).
  • tone curve :
crazy talk

crazy talk

HSL

  • HSL : bring up the red saturation and blue luminance

Split Toning

  • split toning : warm the shadows, because between the blue luminance and the low temperature, this was getting cold, fast.
  • crop : welp, gotta make it match the other one..

..which creates this:

 I know the ground is ugly, I don't care. All I care about is that lovely sky.

I know the ground is ugly, I don't care. All I care about is that lovely sky.


Into Photoshop

Put the dark layer on the bottom, and then use the other layer to brighten it.

11-layers

Making a mask is fun
Start with a black mask and use a white brush to make parts of the ground layer visible. Also, don’t view it like this. These images only show what I came up with afterwords.

Notice the registration problem along the left? Yeah, the images weren't exact.

Notice the registration problem along the left? Yeah, the images weren't exact.

The mask doesn't have to be precise unless you're near an edge. The dark areas take care of themselves.

The mask doesn't have to be precise unless you're near an edge. The dark areas take care of themselves.

We’re almost there..

We just need some little tweaks:

..which do this:

Now the house is warmer and brighter, which is how I remember it:

One more thing.. When you use a 12mm lens, and tilt it above or below the horizon line, no matter how slight, you will get perspective distortion. Since I don’t have a tilt-shift lens, or a large-format view camera like Ansel Adams, where you can correct for this in the camera, I’ll have to settle for this:

You have to flatten the image because this only works on one layer. Also, expand the canvas so you have room to work without the image going off the edge.

You have to flatten the image because this only works on one layer. Also, expand the canvas so you have room to work without the image going off the edge.

..which does something like this:

I don’t remember the exact settings, these are pretty close though.

I don’t remember the exact settings, these are pretty close though.

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for:

Done. Click for Flickr page

Any questions?

This entry was posted in Tutorials.