This photo ended up being quite "true to the scene" which is pretty unusual for me, but there was so much going on that I decided to keep the processing to a minimum. The main work was done around getting the right balance between the color of the sky and the Aurora.
Like any of my Aurora shots I cooled down everything and brought back the clouds and Aurora, since cooling down changed their colors dramatically.
The next step was to bring out the red in the Aurora, and further cool and darken the sky.
Back to darkening sky, and then light painting on the actual Aurora to get a better separation.
Last but not least, I opened the shadows in the foreground just a bit, and then HSL work on the sky (you see by now that the sky was mainly worked on) to get a better hue.
You can find the bigger version here: http://www.brunovais.com/air/h469d53ff#h469d53ff
Please feel free to reach out with any questions. This was a short post/not a lot of steps compared to the other ones, nevertheless it was quite fun. The post-processing lessons page can be found here: http://www.brunovais.com\instruction
Skagsanden Beach is an amazing place... but quite difficult to photograph. It's very easy to get sucked into a leading lines vortex and end up with just that, leading lines. I scouted this place early during the day and found this composition, hoping that the Aurora would deliver at night. Nothing happened for quite some time, and then suddenly the lights started playing shyly across the sky. They were quite faint in the beginning, so in order to get some detail out of the foreground I applied some light painting with my flashlight during the 30s exposure.
As per usual, the first question was what crop do I want? I settled with a 4x5 in order to give almost the same space to both the sky and the sand, favoring the sky by just a bit. Like any Aurora shot I then cooled the photo and also cloned out the highway lights.
The photo was very washed out, even for a raw file, mainly for the low lit scene, so next in order where pushing up the lights and clarity in ACR.
The next move was to brighten up mid-tones in the sky and introduce some structure in the sand via Viveza. You should see a pattern by now... I work both on the sky and the sand at the same time so as to not lose their connection. It's very easy to lose track of time on one of the areas and then I would have to play catch-up with the other one in order to re-balance the photo.
I finished up with Orton and more brightness work on both foreground and background.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. A bigger version of the photo can be found here: http://www.brunovais.com/air/h438d27e5#h438d27e5
If you're interested in booking a private Photoshop lesson, you can find details here: http://www.brunovais.com/instruction
The scene had tremendous potential. The light was a big problem though. The sun, wherever it was, had already set, and it was getting dark quickly. Regardless, I took the shot hoping that I'll be able to make it work.
First of all, this is what attracted me to the scene in the first place. You have an unusual mountain, a reflection of it and the sand reflecting the shape again. Couldn't ask for a better canvas.
The first problem was that there was no separation between foreground and background. Flat sky, flat sand, everything seems very compressed. So I darkened (yes, I went with a darker sky) the sky with an ND and added contrast. Lots of contrast. I also decided on a crop.
Then I converted the shot to B/W and painted back on a layer at low opacity. This gave me even more separation, and I also gained some of the depth.
It was now time to introduce a bit of color separation. Usually this means cooling the foreground and warming up the background, but this scene had nothing warm to begin with. So I cooled the entire shot and then kept the change only for the background.
The photo started to look now close to what I had in mind. The composition in the foreground was very busy though. I therefore cleaned up the left side, and extended the line to the corner. I also decreased contrast on the background in order to get a nice transition between the mountain and its reflection.
Finished up with contrast in the mid-tones, and done.
You can find the bigger version here: http://www.brunovais.com/earth/h458c5df9#h458c5df9
Please let me know if you have any questions. The post-processing instruction page can be found here: http://www.brunovais.com/instruction
I absolutely love reflections.. There is something about them that for me points to a world that's there, but not quite. They don't always make a good photograph though, as it's not easy to weave the reflection into the story of the shot.
I found this spot purely out of luck. I was shooting with a group of friends when one of them asked me to get out of his shot, so I moved. And I stumbled upon this scene. The grass, the rocks, the clouds all point to the mountain. And the reflection of the clouds complete this, because the reflection at its turn points to the mountain.
Most of the time I leave working with light towards the end, mainly because I want to get the photo to the best possible place before adding light. In this case I did exactly the opposite. I also introduced a bit of color disruption in LAB so I can later have enough material for saturation work.
Initially a 4x5 crop looked like the way to go. I punched up the lights in ACR and then added overall contrast to the foreground.
I then realized that 4x5 puts way too much emphasis on the foreground and I was also losing the "in and forward" movement of all the other elements. If you followed my work a bit you'd know by know that I rarely go with the default 3x2 crop format. It looks to 'long' for me, especially for vertical photos. I do try to stay within certain proportions though. So I went with a 5x7. I followed with yet more color in LAB and I brightened the mid-tones.
And now for the difficult part, at least for this composition. The mountain is too small to really make a difference. Different lenses do different things to the scene. A telephoto compresses everything, so items that are away from the camera seem closer to each other. A wide angle makes the foreground look very big and close and the background look very small and far away. There are situations when this is exactly the intended result. But this was not one of them.
Last but not least a bit of Orton to taste, more light on the mountain and toning down a bit saturation in the sky. And done.
You can find the bigger version here: http://www.brunovais.com/earth/h441a9653#h44b1c88b
Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have. The post-processing instruction page can be found here: http://www.brunovais.com/instruction
It was sheer bad luck that ruined the shots that came before this photo, and sheer determination to make the next shot work. When I arrived at this scene the storm already passed, but the sky was still alight. What I didn't realize until it was too late is that it was still drizzling. I shoot with a Canon TS 17mm, that looks like a fish-eye and doesn't take a hood. All this means that it's a magnet for water specs. Basically all the photos I took while the light was moving across the sky were ruined by water drops. I'm not talking about one or two here and there (that could've been easily removed in post proc) but the entire front of the lens was covered in them! By the time I realized what happened it was too late... I cleaned up the lens as best as I could and took a few more shots with whatever light was left. The sun was behind the clouds to the right of the mountain peak, shining just the tiniest amount on the snow, but it was nothing compared to the light show 5 minutes prior.
So I went to work.
First things first, lights up in ACR and a ND grad to pull back the sky.
Next came color work in LAB mode. I always give LAB a try at some point or the other during post. 90% of the time it doesn't add anything to the image, but the 10% when it works, it works!
Then... initially I thought my eyes are playing tricks on me.. but I noticed that there was something weird going on smack above the peak. 2 almost vertical lines. Most likely I didn't clean the lens properly, and the lines were 2 water specs that got smeared by my cleaning cloth. Pretty sure a few PS versions ago this would've meant curtains, but a bit of love and some cloning/healing brush/content-aware fill took care of it.
Time to bring back the light. This is the part when I feel I have the most fun.. when I try to bend the shot to what I saw.
This type of light work ends up drastically decreasing contrast in the mid tones, so I punched that back, and added just a bit of Orton to the lit snow.
Almost done... I noticed that a bird left some souvenirs right in the middle of the shot (the white stuff) so I cloned that out and increased the light a bit to give it more life. And voila..
You can find the bigger version here: http://www.brunovais.com/earth/h441a9653#h441a9653
As per usual, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have. The post-proc instruction page can be found here: http://www.brunovais.com/instruction
Till next time!