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.

Curly Tree In the Sunset

Curly Tree In the Sunset

Sometimes it’s all about shape. This tree is wonderful I think. I found it close to my home, and caught it as a silhouette just after the sun had set.

About the processing

I adjusted the white balance slightly to improve the mood of the photo, and then I darkened the shadows a bit, to get a stronger silhouette against the sky. And then I cleaned the water for various birds to get a more clean photo.

Gone – A Pseudo HDR


Oh I do miss summer or even just spring. I still have snow in my garden and there is ice on lakes and in the fiord. This is absurdly late, compared to normal winters. You know, it has been snowing for a couple of hours today. So this photo is an archive photo from last summer. I had just got my first full frame DSLR and took it out for a walk down by the fiord, in my hometown Roskilde. I came by this jetty with a pair of shoes on it, but nobody was around… Strange.

About the processing

This is a single exposure RAW file, that I did a minus 2 and plus 2 virtual copies of in Lightroom of. I then exported the three photos to Photomatix. A problem with HDR is that it often gives a grayish color to the sky, which is quite odd, because much of the rest of the image often turns out quite colorful. So I had to go back to the single exposure and process the sky individually, and then merge that into the rest of the image. I had some quite bad noise problems with the shoes, because they were in shadow. But using by some heavy noise reduction both before exporting to Photomatix and later again in Photoshop they ended up quite good.

Shoe Boat

Shoe Boat

I guess it’s no surprise that Amsterdam has all these lovely canals. You find house boats, construction boats and just small boats for cruising around in the canals. The yellow shoe shaped boat is one of the more spectacular ones I found.

About the processing

It’s a 5 shot HDR, that I processed with Photomatix. Nothing unusual there. Then I blended layers in Photoshop, to remove a little ghosting in the trees, not much there though. The photo still didn’t really pop the way that I had hoped. I had managed to get a not very pretty handle of bicycle in the lower part of the photo. In the end I decided on this cinematic format, cutting away the handle. The other thing I did like, was the hanging bowl of flowers, so I decided not to emphasize that too much.  I focused on the small Shoe shaped boat and the sun rays in the far end. Those I processed to be emphasized. The boat was a bit dark, I made it more light and the sun rays I emphasized using burn and dodge tools.

Tip: Crop dead areas away

Misty Orange Sunrise

Sunrises and sunsets keeps amazing me. You still can be surprised and see new wonderful variations. This photo is hardly processed. In Lightroom I have increased the contrast a bit, lowered the clarity a little and then raised the vibrance slightly. Not a lot compared to what I do to some of my other photos.

Tip: Crop dead areas away photo
In the beginning I didn’t want to cut away pixels. The more pixels, the better. I’m still struggling with this, but I have learned that some photos really get a much stronger composition by cropping them.

This particular photo doesn’t have much of an interesting foregrund and the sky continues upwards as orange. It becomes dead areas with nothing interesting. By cutting that away, I cut away dead zones and is left with the good stuff and that makes a stronger composition.

Peaceful Sunrise At Milford Sound

Peaceful Sunrise At Milford Sound

One of the most beautiful and dramatic fiords lies on the the west coast of New Zealands South Island. The sun rises and shines on Mitre Peak, which rises an amazing almost 1700 m straight out of the water, which I was told was the record. The weather changes a lot in Milford Sound and seeing it without a cloud is a rare experience. It rains up to 11 meters (!) per year here, which is makes this place one of the places on Earth where it rains most.

About the processing
This is 7 shot HDR photo merged together using Photomatix. I have worked a lot with the image. Created a new layer, fine tuned an area, and then blended that area into the main photo, then made another duplicated layer to optimize another area. I have used Topaz Adjust and Nik Color Efex filters with delicacy.

Cleaning up the photo
I have done a lot of cleaning up in the photo. There was a lot of dirt, leaves, insects etc in the water. This I have removed using the clone tool in Photoshop. It took some time, but it’s important to achieve the calm mood of the photo and the strong clear reflection.

Amsterdam Maritime History Museum at Dawn

Amsterdam Maritime History Museum at Dawn

After walking through Amsterdam taking nightscapes I finally arrived to the harbor, to see the sun rise behind the Amsterdam Maritime History Museum. A beautiful place, that I returned to in the evening, to attend to a cocktail party. That I didn’t know, when I took this photo.

About the processing
The photo is a 5 shot HDR. I did the tone mapping with HDR Efex Pro 2. Not a bad tone mapping tool, though I find it more detailed in Photomatix. Afterwards I did a little blending layers. Primarily to remove ghosting in the water, on the masts of the ship.

Gold on the beach

South Island on New Zealand has got these wonderful golden beaches up north on Tasman Bay. We took a water taxi, but because of the tide, we were dumped in the water and had to walk the rest of the 500m to the beach. It was mid thigh deep. I was quite worried about my photo equipment.

About the photo. This is a hand held 5 shot HDR photo. It lacks a bit sharpness in the front. A disadvantage of taking the shots hand held is that, you can’t always get all of the details right. However I do like the photo, composition and the clouds. Processing wise, this is a combination of a single and double tonemapped image that I blended in Photoshop. See my HDR tutorial if you want to know how to do that.

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.

Worlds smallest skyline

Many years ago the harbour of Copenhagen was a busy area with big ships, industries, warehouses etc. Now a days as in many other big cities, the harbour has been turned into offices, hotels and living areas. This is Nordea Bank.

This is a 5 shot HDR that I took one morning on my way to work. I had hoped for a great sun set, but wasn’t rewarded with that. This is a double tone mapped image. A way you can tell is because of the more dramatic contrasts in the water. I have used the blending layer technique described in my HDR tutorial extensively on this image. The water is mostly the double tonemapped, while the buildings are mostly the single tone mapped and the sky mostly a clean image.

The sky had a strong blue color cast, that I had to remove and then I used Photofiltre Studio to extract gray colors. Something I learned from a guy in Denmark. This intensifies the colors, but it must be used with care.