The Weekend Post: How to create two images from one image

The Dungeon

“The Dungeon” created from the cloister at Chester Cathedral.

This post is the first in my new series of posts, which is called ‘The Weekend Post’. It is a post, that contains something good about post-processing or photography in general. It is more, than just “Hey, this is my latest photo”. If you don’t want to miss this series of posts, sign up on the website, and get it directly to your mailbox. If you have any particular topic, you want to cover, do not hesitate to ask me.

I am no good at painting and drawing, but I always liked to do it. For years, I haven’t painted or drawn anything, but my photography, or rather my post-processing, stimulates the same part of my brain (and heart for that matter). I always strive to get something out of my images, something that wasn’t there, when I shot it. Something that I create during the post-process. I see my RAW files as my oil and canvas, and I work from there.

Some photos have a lot of potentials, others don’t. The photos I get a kick out of processing, are the ones, that come out quite different, than what they looked like, and still look good. You can knock yourself over on the wrong side of the road if you just go crazy. I try not go crazy, but I do experiment a lot. My aim is to add some etherealness, something otherworldly, something surreal and perhaps even painterly to my photos in my photos. That is what gives me a kick.

Not two photos are alike, and they deserve individual post-processing. I am not in the ‘click on a button’ processing business because it is the post-processing that I love most. It is the post-processing that sparkles my creativity, it is the post-processing that resembles painting the most. And I did love to paint.

I have a chest full of tricks, tools, ideas and methods that I apply to my photos. I use the problem-solving part of my brain for creating images. I see all photos as problems, that needs to be solved, because, I am pretty good at solving problems.

Let’s walk through the photo from this post. What I started out with, was this photo:
The Dungeon Unprocessed

The unprocessed 0-exposure. Not a very interesting light, and yet it had potential.

The shot is a 3-shot HDR photo shot with my Sony A6000 in Chester Cathedral. The Cathedral is HUGE and in connection to the Cathedral itself, there is built a cloister like you find in monasteries, around a garth. However, that cloister had Christmas trees, and other objects, that I didn’t want in my photo. However, there wasn’t any way I could exclude them from my photo. I shot it anyway, even if I felt lacked something for the scene. But, better safe than sorry.

A few months later, I came past the photo in Lightroom and thought I would give it try in the post-processing. I often to do that, with photos that I am not sure if they will work out. Sometimes, I get an idea and get something great out of it, and when if I succeed, these are often the photos I love the most.

Some photos are bound to be successful, because the light is gorgeous or the composition so striking, and and light good enough. But a photo like this one from Chester Cathedral, was not a given success.

What I did, was that I started out on my HDR processing workflow. I mostly use Photomatix Pro for creating my more artistic HDR photos. The new HDR feature in Lightroom I also use, but only for less artistic HDR photos.

I liked the mood that Photomatix generated, even if for some of the disturbing objects:

The Dungeon Photomatix

This is what I like about Photomatix. It manages to extract a lot of mood and warmth. You can’t use it straight out of Photomatix Pro, but there is a good start.

At this time, the problem-solving part of my brain kicks in, solving the problem ‘How to create harmony?’ And it didn’t take long, before it came up with the idea to mirror the image. It was the straight line in the roof, that brought the idea into play, combined with one other fact. The Chester Cathedral is only almost symmetrical in every way. NOTHING in Chester Cathedral is symmetric, even when you expect it would be. So my mind had been thinking about symmetry, in connection to the photos I shot there.

My initial intuition, was to remove the window part and the Christmas trees, and that gave me The Dungeon. I instantly fell in love with that, and wanted to finish that. But I got the idea to, try out the opposite and to my surprise that worked out as well. And in the end, I ended up having two different photos, made from one photo.

The mirrored cloister in Chester Cathedral

The mirrored cloister in Chester Cathedral.

This post is a first post in the series “The Weekly Post”. It will be published every Friday. If you want to be sure not to miss it, follow my website, and you will get the post on a mail every time it is posted.

Have a nice weekend.

–Jacob Surland

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