Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rockland Breakwater Light - 2015 Edition

In the high school graduation time of year, 2010, I had the chance to explore the Maine coast and some of the light houses.  This is the Rockland Breakwater Light.  The light sits at the end of a long jetty.  When I was there, it was a crappy, cold, windy and rainy day.  But even in those conditions, it had a beauty of its own.  

I liked playing with this photograph because with a little effort, the sky will not be flat and the water has some definition.

The original post can be found here: Previous Post.

The Original Post Image:

Generally, overall I like what was done with the image.  I like everything except the halo in the sky between the house structure and the sky.  So in 2015, I should be able to come up with something where the halo is non-existent.

The original base of this image is a combination of two photographs.  In each of the two photographs, there is an imperfection (unwanted human) that I didn't want in the final product.  The two photographs were fairly similar with respect to the position of the structure and took just a small amount of adjusting to line up.  The two original images are:

 I've circled the objects that need to be removed.  I used the top image as the primary image.  I put the bottom image underneath the top image.  After I lined the two up, I used a masking brush to remove the unwanted object at the top of the stairs.  Everything around that area lined up perfectly.  I now had my base image to work with.

My plan was to put this through Photomatix and concentrate on everything but the sky.  Experience tells me that the sky is where most of the halo caused by tone compression will occur.  I'd like to keep the sky, but it doesn't do the day justice.  It was much darker.  This is what Nikon think the image should look like - and why you should take Nikon out of the equation by shooting in RAW.  Here is what I have after tone mapping with Photomatix.

I didn't have to do too much with this, but I did get great colors on the water, jetty and the building.  There is still too much halo in the sky - and it is too light for what I want.  The sky must go!  The sky colors are fairly consistent making for easy removal.  The removal between the railings and the fence around the light were tricky and just took some time.  I found a bolder, darker sky from my stock photos and added it in.  

I should be able to get some great definition out of this.  I did some gradient work on the sky, with it starting dark overhead and getting lighter toward the horizon.  I also tried to gradient blur it as well, so the clouds in the distance aren't quite as sharp as those overhead.  I did some selective lighting, either bringing up or removing light on the building.  The overall image is darker, but yet not.  It's a little clearer and sharper.  Here is the final product.

The sky and the water match.  Little bit of light from the clouds and little bit of light on the water.  (That's why I can't go with a nice blue sky, the water would be a dead giveaway.)  I'd go with this version on personal preference.  The image appears much cleaner.

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