Digital Photography Sunday School Episode 8

//Digital Photography Sunday School Episode 8
Another Sunday School Tip.
Final Processed Image
Straight out of camera – Foreground
Straight out of camera – Sky

Camera Gear and Settings:

Processing Software Used:

photo by: Jack Thatcher


2015 Kirby Cove, Marin Headlands, CA

Oh Kirby Cove how I love you. This beautiful place lives just across the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco, CA. It is about a 2 mile hike to get from the road down to the cove. Once you get there the view of the Golden Gate and the San Francisco skyline is breathtaking. This morning I went to shoot the sunrise with my buddy Dan who recently moved to San Francisco. We hiked down the hill in the dark and set up as the first light was filling the sky. We were hoping for some amazing skies and maybe some low fog……we got neither. Once I know the conditions aren’t going to be epic I start to look for good light and details that I like.

On this morning I turned around and saw the nice light hitting the hill and immediately wanted to capture it. My vision was to have some nice movement in the water with the hill on the right. The sun was already up so even at ISO 100 and F/22 my shutter speeds were about 1/30th of a second. I knew this wasn’t going to get the look in the water that I wanted so I put on my LEE big stopper which takes away 10 stops of light. This now allowed me to shoot 30 seconds at F/22. I played with my shutter speed to figure out exactly how much time I needed to get the look I wanted in the water. This morning the magic number was 2 seconds. That became my number one priority.

Next I decided I wanted to shoot at F/8 for some good depth and good quality (Typically the middle stops of a lens are the sharpest). Aperture became my second priority. Lastly I had to adjust my ISO to get the right exposure. Since I had the big stopper on and my time was fairly short given the circumstances my ISO had to be 1600 to get the shot. I knew this wasn’t ideal but to get the look I wanted in the water it was what I needed to do and I would worry about any noise in post processing.

Editing Process

This was a creative one for me. I’ve been sick for the past couple of days and needed some creativity to cure me…..I must admit….I do feel better. When I was going through my images I saw the foreground image and loved the water however I hated the sky. There were no clouds on this morning so I decided I would add some.

Using Lightroom CC I made most of my color adjustments. I started with the foreground image by warming it up a ton. My LEE big stopper adds a blue cast to my images that needed to be corrected. I then made some basic adjustments to the tone of the image by moving the highlights and whites down and the shadows and blacks up. I then added some vibrance and contrast to the image. From there I made some selective adjustments to the color and luminosity values. Because of the filter I took the water from an aqua color to a deeper blue. I took down the luminosity on the hill to take focus away from it and draw the eye to the water. I also bumped up the luminosity in the green trees to try and brighten them up a bit. Last of all I removed the noise generated from the high ISO. Lightroom does a really great job with noise reduction in my opinion.

Now I had to find a sky to insert. I searched San Francisco in my Lightroom catalog to see if I had any other sunrise shots from Kirby Cove with clouds in them….nothing. I ended up coming across this city scape image at sunset that I used in a time lapse. Although it was a sunset I was turned 180 degrees from the Kirby Cove shot so the light was coming from the same direction. The sun was also about the same height so I thought it would work well. I copied the processing settings from the Kirby Cove image into the sky image and loaded them into Photoshop CC as layers.

First thing I had to do in PS was to mask out the sky in the foreground image. I decided to use Topaz Remask since it does such an amazing job. Once I had the right mask I lined up the sky to get the clouds I wanted in the image. I then made some slight color adjustments to the sky now that I saw them together. Now that I had my image set up I cleaned up some rocks and shells on the beach that I felt were distracting. I used a high pass filter accompanied by a detailed mask to sharpen only the edges of the image. I had that crazy thought again….what would this look like in black and white. I used Nik Silver Efex Pro to check it out and I liked the results so it became a black and white image. My final touches were some dodging and burning to cool down some hot spots and then I added a slight vignette.

Thanks for reading and let us know what you think. We would be happy to answer any questions about the processing or anything for that matter.

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