The Tip of the Peninsula

The tip of the peninsula

This one I’m quite anxious about. I have really worked this photo hard and don’t know if I went over the edge and over processed it. The sky was dramatic and had wonderful colors, but I have really extracted them quite brutally, but I do like the result. I think it’s nice.

About processing

It’s an 5 exposure HDR. Just by processing it as an HDR I really get a lot of nice texture both from the rocks and the sky. That’s one thing that HDR and tone mapping is good for. I then used OnOne photo filters to emphasize the sky even more. This I could have done in Photoshop as well, but it’s just easier to use a filter, which is a kind of a template.

The water I have left as the HDR version, which gives this ghosted water, which I sometimes like and other times don’t like. In this case I like it. However, in the lower right hand side corner I merged in the water from the brightest exposure. The brightest exposure has got the longest exposure time and has this wonderful smokey water as you can see.

Before and after

So far so good – but I had a problem. The composition of the original photo had failed, but I did like the sky so much, so what to do? Let’s look at the original:

The tip of the peninsula - before

As you can see quite different from the final photo and much more flat and boring. But look at the stones. The sky is more or less the same, but the stones I have changed … a lot!

#1 The sky is really flat and is nowhere near what it looked like for real. What I have created is not what it looked like, either, but that wasn’t my purpose. Sometimes I make a portrait of reality, and at other times it’s more like a painting I make. This is a painting.

#2 I clean up the photo. There are dust on my sensor – these must be removed. The ship in the horizon; gone too. And the other thing in the water I also removed. I prefer to use Photoshop’s spot removal or the content aware fill to clean up in my photos. The spot removal is good for small spots, and thin lines. Content aware fill is used to remove a larger areas, but I did not use content aware fill in this particular photo. I only used the the spot removal tool.

#3 The stones I stretched a lot. What I did was that I selected the square going from the horizon and down to the bottom. It is easy in this case, because the horizon is straight, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I then used used the Edit->Tranform->Scale feature of Photoshop, and extended the lower part of the photo, until the large boulder in the left hand side of the photo was completely out of the picture. And that helped on the composition. Of cause it would have been much easier to get it right ‘in the camera’ when I shot it, but I failed to do that in this case, and I didn’t want to let go of the sky.

No Moeraki Boulders in Kings Garden

No Moeraki Boulders in Kings Garden

There are no Moeraki boulders in Kings Garden in Copenhagen. They are round stones however only half the size of a real Moeraki boulder. Everyday for the last 7 years I have walked through Kings Garden to get to work. Until a year ago the stones were just round stones to me, but then I started to prepare a long vacation in New Zealand. Along with that, came the knowledge of the Moeraki Boulders. Ever since I have been to the Moeraki beach, these round stones, though only half size, reminds me with great joy of New Zealand. Oh what a wonderful place – I want to go there once more!

About the photo

This is a 5 shot HDR from -2 to +2. The sun I have placed in the leaves, to take some of the strength out of it and then I used a 5 inch tall tripod to get close to the ground. That makes the boulder look quite large and gives the viewer a feeling of 3D in the photo.

About the processing

I processed this in Photomatix and then blended the layers in Photoshop to get rid of nasty halos in the sky (see my too tutorial on blending layers). I wasn’t quite satisfied with the result and have had the photo lying around for some months, without a fixed solution. But then the other day I picked it up again. I added a shadow to the stone, adjusted the light about in the leaves, in particular in the right hand corner. For some reason they kept coming out too black. What I have found out in the mean time, is to use the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop. The Dodge tools makes things brighter, where ever you paint, and the Burn tool makes things darker. In this case I used the Dodge tool to brighten the leaves. What’s cool is that, I specify to make the shadows brighter, and then it will leave the bright sky untouched, and that really worked, and I got green leaves instead of black.

Tip: Pseudo HDR

Pantheon Reflecting the Sun Setting

Pantheon Reflecting the Sun Setting

Pantheon is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen and I was even rewarded with the most beautiful sunset.

The photo is an old one, shot with my ancient Canon 400D. How to salvage an old photo? I took this photo as a single RAW on my old Canon 400D using a Sigma 10-20mm lens. I didn’t have a tripod, but the light was so gorgeous I just had to shoot the scene. What I did was to stand as still as I could and just fire away 20 shots hoping one would be sharp enough. The ISO I had turned up to 400, which is the highest acceptable ISO on that camera, and I the raised the f-stop to the highest value the lens allowed (lowest number). That gave me a shutter speed of 1/13 seconds, which requires a very steady hand. But I managed.

Tip: Try making Pseudo HDR photos from single exposure RAWs
In the processing had to major issues. I had to get a better balance between light and shadows and to increase the sharpness. To get better balance between the shadows and the light areas, I made a Pseudo HDR photo. To do that I made in Lightroom two artificial exposures by making virtual copies. One I made a -2 and the other I made +2. These to exposures I gave some strong noise reduction, and then I exported all three to Photomatix and tone mapped them. The result was awesome. Not as good as if I had shot three proper bracketed shots, but good enough.

The sharpness I achieved by duplicating the layer in Photoshop and then applying a fairly strong Unsharp Mask (really a bad name for a sharpening rool). That did some really good things to the roof of the Pantheon. I blended in the good parts of the sharpened image – the rest I didn’t use.

Raft in the blue hour

From one early summer morning close to my home town. A raft sitting in last minutes before the sun comes up.

This is a 5 shot HDR. I also attached a soft grad ND 2-stop filter and a 3 stop filter to get a longer exposure time. It is a fairly clean Photomatix image, only a little Photoshop’ing to keep the boat and raft sharp.

Lake Matheson in New Zealand

Lake Matheson in New Zealand

Get up before sunrise and walk around Lake Matheson at sunset. See Mount Cook mirrored in the lake“. Said the guide book. “Yessir!” I thought, and I wasn’t disappointed. When we got up and drove the few miles to Lake Matheson it was pitch dark. We almost hit a japanese guy running in black clothes with backpack on his back. We arrived at the view point at Lake Matheson exactly at sunrise. Within five minutes the japanese guy turned up too, and he too had a camera. We ended up being a small group taking photos of this beautiful morning. This particular photo is taken about 30 minutes after sunrise. I had expected a golden sunrise, but of cause the mountains give shade a long time. The golden light came later.

This photo is the photo that I have used in detailed HDR tutorial you can find here.

Sunset over field

Sunset over field

A couple of weeks before the harvest, the fields looks lovely.

This is an HDR made of three shots (-2, 0 and +2). I took this handheld, because I didn’t have my tripod. To keep the shutter speed fast on all three shots, I raised the ISO to 1000, but kept the f-stop in the higher middle area, at f/13. I kept the f-stop this high to have everything sharp. The shutter speed for the 0 exposure was 1/250 sec. I had to try a couple of times to make sure I got a set, that didn’t have a shaken +2. Processingwise I used Photomatix to get my HDR. I got a nasty gray sky because I had no clouds in the sky, a bad side effect from making HDRs. In my HDR tutorial you can see how to handle a gray sky. When done in Photoshop I took the image back into Lightroom, where I raised the clarity and contrast a bit, did a little adjustments to the saturation of specific colors and finally added vignetting.

The kings library

Library in an old Kings CastleIn Kolding in Denmark lies an old ruin of a royal castle. The oldest parts dates back to the 12th century. One of the most famous kings of Denmark Christian IV spent most of his childhood in this castle, and many kings liked the castle a lot. In 1808 a wild fire burned large parts of castle more or less to the ground and left it as a ruin. In 1830 H.C. Andersen (the guy with the Ugly Duckling) advocated for keeping the ruin. Many years later the castle was delicately restored, in a very unusual way. This picture I took in the library, in one of the parts of castle that pretty much survived the fire. If I had dared I had moved the table just a tiny bit, but there were alarms everywhere like in any museum, at it said ‘do not touch’ everywhere too, so I didn’t move it.
The photo is a single RAW shot with an X100, and then I tonemapped it and did a few other things to it.

Huge watch in great building

Huge watch in great building

This is the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney. It is a Mekka for photographers. It is very beautiful with all it’s tiles, skylight roof and 100s a small shops with all kinds of goodies. They even have a couple of danish specialities. And then they have these two great watches hanging. This one has got a small ship going round and around. It is on the right hand side on the photo.
I found the building by using Stuck in Customs iPad app Stuck on Earth. However I had only just entered the door and touched my tripod, when tripod police showed up and said ‘Sorry – no tripods’. Damn… So I had to my shots hand held, which not too big a problem on this one, because of the railing, but other ones were bad.

Christmas Viking Ship

Christmas Viking ShipThis is the Sea Stallion, which is the worlds largest reconstruction of a viking ship. It’s in Roskilde, Denmark. This year they have decided to make a Christmas tree out of it, while it sits on land for the winter.
I first did a colored version as a ‘middle product’ I got this version, where I have taken out blue and aqua colors. I have ended up liking this one much better than the full colored version.

Cathedral in Amsterdam

Amsterdam ChurchOn a day as hot as a summer, during one of the first days of september I caught this in a Cathedral in Amsterdam. A nice american lady said, that it looked like a nice camera I had there, but that she would precious her pictures just as much I would mine, even though her camera was much smaller.
I had been in the church many years before and knew it was beautiful, so I wanted to go back and get this shot.
The photo is 7 photo HDR. I did the tonemapping in Photomatix, and then took all 7 exposures + tonemapped into photoshop as layers and masked through. I tuned the colors a little and did some final sharpening.