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HDR Photography Landscape Photography Travel Photography

Sunrise On A Gazebo

I took two different shots of the gazebo at Antietam. One from the front and this one. Considering the light I guess I didn’t take them that far apart.

If there was a hell for photo editing this image is likely involved. I have edited this image at least 10 times. This is finally the version I settled on.

Part of the problem was the light and how the camera metered it. It did some really funky things and I minimized them as much as possible. I won’t tell you what they are but they are there. Then I had some crap that I didn’t want in the image and thought I be slick and clone stamp it out. That turned things even worse. Finally, no matter what I did HDR or not HDR is just kept looking like ass.

This edit I took a master source file and did my usual edits in Lightroom then brought it into Photoshop. I then created 2 layers. The first layers I edited it as I normally would any other file. Curves adjustment and the local work with dodge and burn. Second layer I opened in in Aurora HDR and then started in on that. I just kept playing with sliders until I was happy.

Once I had the two layers I started masking bits in here and there that I wanted. I had to contend with blown color channels, highlights, and blacks clipping. To get around it I masked in the darker “normal” layer with various opacities. Then I did some more local work with dodging and burning until I finally said no more. The last bit was a crop to get rid of the garbage I knew I could not clone stamp out. Then called it done.

Enjoy.

Dawn on a Gazebo

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HDR Photography Landscape Photography Travel Photography

Road To Yonder

Title came from a comic I read as a kid. Guy walks up to two other guys and asks for directions. One of the men answers and and says ‘It’s yonder’. The man asking for direction leaves. The other man who didn’t talk then asks the man that gave directions if he actually knew where he sent the other man. He replied, ‘Always wondered where yonder is’.

This isn’t the most fabulous image I ever took in my life. In fact, it’s more of a Monday image and I was playing around so might as well publish it. There are lots of flaws with it but I’ll let it go. Part of this is me wanting to avoid Photoshop and Lightroom right now after having to reinstall them to fix the latest Adobe nightmare that somehow insists that my Camera Raw is not in sync between the two.

I do find it ironic that I raged against HDR and then I turned around and made a HDR image. In this case it worked as the source images were relatively static. There is some motion in the sky but it works so I didn’t bother with it.

This was taken at Antietam Battlefield at some watch tower thing. I climbed to the top and has it to myself so I setup my tripod and fired off a bunch of shots since I had the luxury of time. Was rather nice not to have to rush to try and get an image in what would normally be a busy spot.

As I indicated this was done in HDR. I only used the -2 and 0 images to create the file. I manually did the settings playing with sliders until I was happy. Then I brought it into freshly reinstalled Photoshop and started adding local adjustments via dodge and burn. Satisfied enough with the result I called it done and hit save.

Enjoy.

Road to Yonder

Categories
Landscape Photography Travel Photography

Dawn Over Silent Cannon

This is another one from Antietam Battlefield. Was on the field near the visitor’s center with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance and the sun just starting to rise.

This is another example of an image that was meant for HDR that just wasn’t going to work. HDR just creates too many variables into the image that make it difficult to get a solid, finish image. There are little things that drive me nuts with objects not aligning. Weird color shifts that aren’t natural. Plus the HDR halo effect for lack of better term. You can fix all these things but it adds time and effort to an image for little gain.

I haven’t given up on HDR. I do enjoy it but I am discovering that it works well in some applications and other applications it doesn’t. Unless you want to spend hours on a landscape photo it’s not worth it. For interiors and stationary objects, you can get some really spectacular results. I’ll still play with HDR but I’m not going to run a conversion just because I shot the image for HDR.

This image was straight out of Lightroom into Photoshop. I added a curves adjustment to get the overall tone correct then I added contrast to it. I did have to use the Camera Raw filter to add another gradient to lighten the grass. It went too dark on me. The rest was just local dodging and burning. I do admit to “popping” the sky a bit using Intensify CK and masking that in. It just made the photo that little bit better.

Enjoy.

Ps – I almost spelt cannon with just one N. I spent too much time on photography websites. It would have been really awkward because this was shot on a Nikon.

Dawn Over Silent Cannon

Categories
Landscape Photography Travel Photography

Follow The Line To Where It Leads

I shot this at Antietam Battlefield last year. I was walking along one of the many roads that go through the park and saw this and figured why not take a photo.

This image was meant for HDR but when I ran it through the initial conversion using Aurora it just looked awful. I did a quick edit just to see what I wasn’t happy with it at all. I just moved back to Lightroom and reverted to my usual workflow. While I enjoy making HDR images sometimes things can get a little too much. There is no sense in trying to push an image when it doesn’t work.

When it came time for editing I did my usual workflow then into Photoshop. Once I added my curves adjustment I did some local dodging and burning. While the image wasn’t going to be HDR it could use a bit of a pop. I created a new layer and opened Intensify CK and picked a preset that I have as a favorite. Brought it back into Photoshop and masked in the road at one opacity and the field and trees at another. Still wasn’t done. The grass and fields were a bit hot and nuclear. So brought them down using desaturase brush and a hue/saturation adjustment. This caused my line to lose a bit of its punch. Quickly made a new layer from the base, bumped the saturation back into the yellows and masked that in. Called it done.

Enjoy.

Follow the Yellow Line

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HDR Photography Landscape Photography Nature Photography Travel Photography

The Back Road

I shot this while I was hiking around Antietam Battlefield. There was such a maze of roads and back roads throughout the park you never knew if you were on public land or private land. I’m sure the people who live there are used to people wandering around unsure. I was on the main trail just shooting down this road.

I’ll be honest and say I’m not 100% sure about this image. It’s a bit bright. This is a byproduct of the HDR conversion which the image obviously is. I tried to tame it as best I could without clipping blacks or messing with color shifts. It is also fairly crispy but that was me desiring to get as much detail out of things as humanly possible. The tree and the wall looked better. Again, this is from the HDR conversion doing weird maths combining images.

I already let on the image is HDR. I used Aurora 2017 to do the conversion. I just play with sliders until I’m happy with the end result and bring it into Photoshop. One of the things I do is now save the file as a PSD then open it. I just found keeping Aurora and Photoshop open just kills my Macbook. It’s not the newest but it’s the top of the line 2016 and it starts slow down when you have them both open.

I did a bit of dodging and burning to balance some of the light out and bring it down. I then wanted to punch up the stonework and tree so Intensify was used. I masked that bit in to bring out some details. Once I had that I played with a bit more but I just got it to where I felt it was good enough and said done.

Enjoy.

The Back Road

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HDR Photography Landscape Photography Travel Photography

The Bright Path

I’ll be honest and say I was going to name this the shining path but I believe that is a Communist militant organization from Peru so bright path it is!

This was taken at Antietam National Battlefield along some path leading up toward the watch down your see in the distance. The sun was up by that point and it was a nice day out. When I was walking up the path I saw this and thought it would be a cool image shooting into the sun. I had no real idea how it would turn out because I was shooting for HDR. Plus I rarely chimp my camera. I either get it or I don’t.

This is clearly a HDR image. I have been using just the -2 and the 0 bracket but those two exposures were too dark. So I included the +2 image and it brought everything up nicely. I then just played with sliders until everything looked good. I then added another layer mask to bring out the details in the grass and path. I also wanted it to feel “warmer” with the glow of the light. Once I had that it was time for some Photoshop magic.

One of the issues was the sky in the HDR conversion was crap. It was some awful muted blue looking thing. So I did a quick edit in Lightroom on my normal exposure and then brought that into Photoshop. Did my normal adjustments. Still the sky wasn’t doing much for me so did a quick filter in Intensify CK and brought out the sky details. Once I had that it was time to combine the two images.

Did a quick alignment of the two images. One of the joys with HDR conversions is that it screws with the alignment of the photos. So even working the with same source image they never line up. So some cropping was required to get things to where I wanted it. It was fine as I wanted the sky anyways and was going to do it in 16×9’ish.

I masked in the sky from the normal image at a low opacity. This kept things looking somewhat normal. It also allowed me to blend everything nicely.

Few more tweaks here and there and I called it done.

Enjoy!

PS – No scratch drive crashed so editing was smooth as a babies bottom!

Bright Path

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HDR Photography Landscape Photography Travel Photography

Where The Road Leads

I shot this at Antietam Battlefield when I was crossing between the various areas in the park. There wasn’t much traffic so I was able to setup my tripod in the middle of the road and take the shot.

I need to tell the story of trying to edit this image and why it may not be as good as I like it. I have a scratch disk in an external enclosure. It’s a 512gb SSD and I use it as my portable drive when I travel and as I indicated, a scratch drive for Photoshop.

I have been having problems with the drive and it has been dropping offline in the middle of the edits. I thought I fixed it when I noticed the drive was hot. So rearranged them and it cooled down. Crashed again. Then I noticed my Time Machine backup was running. It seemed when it hit a certain point it crashed all drives. Thought I fixed that by removing some stuff. Crashed again.

I barely got the final edit and saved full resolution. I was going to make some final adjustments but it crashed shortly after the save. I was lost at this point and just said enough. So if the image is “extra crispy” it’s because I resized the image after it had been sharpened. When you resize it also sharpens the image. So things might be a bit more than normal.

Editing wise when my disk wasn’t crashing this is a HDR image. One of the things I am doing now is not taking the +2 bracket when I do the conversion. There is very little usable data in those files and tends to do weird things to the image. Learned that from Trey Ratcliff who is the guru of HDR.

I did the conversion in Aurora 2017. Just played with sliders till I was happy. Then I brought it into Photoshop (when it was running) to do some final edits. I then did another copy in Lightroom to lighten the sky. I then took that image and masked in the sky on the HDR. I would have blended better but at that point I was worried about the disk (in fact as I type this the drive ejected again without Photoshop running).  So hit save and called it a day.

For inquiring minds I believe the cheap enclosure I bought for the drive is the issue. A new one will be ordered in post haste as I do not have the issue with other drives.

Enjoy the photo for what it’s worth!

Where The Road Leads

Categories
Landscape Photography Travel Photography

Burning The Morning Mist

I shot this at the Antietam Battlefield which would not guess looking at the image. Just looks like a field on a farm. In fact you can see a barn in the image. The place crosses public and private land often so you never really knew what you were looking at when you took the image or even when you walked.

It is fairly obvious I was in love with the light in this image. Since I shot this several months ago I have no real idea what I was thinking but I know what I saw the images it was all about making it warm and inviting. The light was gorgeous and I’m sure I thought I can make it damn near perfect when I go to edit.

I go through phases where I will let an image alone and others I’ll just go to hell with it and see where it leads me. This is an image that kinda did a bit of both.

The assumption would be this is an HDR image but it’s not. It was shot for HDR but when I did the combine it turned all purple and blotchy and the more I played with it the more I went nope, not going to be HDR.

Ran it through my normal workflow in Lightroom then brought it into Photoshop. Did my curves adjustment and did some dodging and burning. It was all about that beam of light on the right side. Once I was happy with that it was into Intensify CK but focus solely on the foreground and the trees on the left. I got the detail I wanted out of those parts and then masked the bits in. I rarely take anything at 100%. Most of the time I’m around 50% or less when I mask stuff in.

It was then on to the sky to bring out the details there. The lens flare was well controlled. It’s there but it adds to the overall image. So back into Intensify CK and got the sky I wanted and even played with sliders to figure out the opacity I wanted there. Masked that in and was happy.

The final bit was I wanted that sky just a bit warmer. Loaded up Color Efex Pro and did a hue/saturation adjustment and got it warm. Then masked that bit into the sky and called it done.

It’s not a usual thing for me to be fully happy with the image but I really am with this one.

Enjoy.

Burning The Morning Mist

Categories
HDR Photography Landscape Photography Travel Photography

Monumental Dawn

I took this at Antietam National Battlefield when I was there last year doing a dawn shoot.

The monument in this image is the New York State Monument to honor those from the state that fell. It’s one of the largest in the park and it’s near the visitors center so the one usually seen. I took the photo with the dawn coming up over the hill with the mountains in the background. Just liked the effect.

Editing wise this is a HDR image for the most part. I was working on it earlier when my Photoshop scratch disk crashed and burned and I got annoyed. Luckily I had it in Aurora 2017 so I just saved it as a PSD and then opened that for editing when my annoyance went away.

One of the issues I was faced with was the halo around the monument with the sky. This is just a problem from HDR conversion and I have never seen a clean way to get rid of it. So I took the middle exposure and edited in Photoshop to where I wanted it and then created a new layer on the HDR file and pasted it in. I have discovered over the years that even when working with base files that are the exact same HDR conversions never line up. So I had to do align layers. Once all was right in the world I then added a layer mask and brushed in the sky at a decent opacity.

I still wasn’t done as the grass was nuclear green and there was some weird magenta artifacts going on. So a hue/saturation adjustment. Then a wee bit of a camera raw fix for fringing. Finally spot removal and a final crop and called it done!

It’s not perfect but I feel it’s worth publishing just for the effort required to get it to where it is.

Enjoy.

Monumental Dawn