Original RAW Image
This week’s submission to Stacy Fischer’s After-Before Friday Forum was taken several years ago at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. I arrived at the shoreline in the late afternoon hoping for a nice sunset image. As the sun dropped toward the horizon, the low angular light was having an increasingly dramatic effect on some boats stacked on top of a dock. (Technical Data: Nikon D200 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens extended to 56mm; Exposure 1/80th @ f/18, ISO 640) As expected, the RAW file that resulted (shown above) did not convey the intense colors I had seen. But the information was there and using Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) the adjustments made were as follows:
Exposure: decreased to -0.40
Contrast: Increased to +15
Blacks: decreased to -5
Saturation: increased to +31
Image after Changes in ACR
The adjusted image (shown just above) was then moved to Photoshop for the final steps. These are shown in the sequence of the three images below. All changes were made with adjustment layers.
Levels Adjustment Layer
As a first step, the levels setting of 255 was decreased to 242 to darken the overall image just a bit (see red arrow in image above).
Curves Adjustment Layer
Next, some additional contrast was added to the overall image which helped emphasize the color of the boats (see red arrow in image above).
Selective Color Adjustment Layer
Finally a Selective Color adjustment layer was used to bring more life to the blue sky and the lake. The color Cyan was chosen from the drop-down menu (white arrow) on the Colors bar and the Black value was increased to 22% (red arrow).
The final result is shown above. About ten minutes after this photograph was taken, the sun dipped behind a ridge,casting this dock into shadow. Thanks again to Stacy Fischer for managing 13 straight weeks of the After-Before Forum. Please visit her post at Visual Venturing to check out the examples by other contributors.
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Thanks very much! Always good to hear from you.
You have definitely boosted the colours and have balanced the haze in the background well.
Thanks, Ben. Those boats were incredibly bright for about ten minutes that afternoon.
Robin, that is some amazingly intense color! Beautiful scenery, and how fortunate there just happened to a be red and yellow boats there for the contrast. I mean, what are the chances of that happening again?
I always enjoy seeing your technical information, but this week especially because you had used a zoom that I have so I had a frame of reference for your choices AND – drumroll, please – I actually understand the reason behind them with this lens 🙂
As always, love your screen shots of your process. As I was clicking on each one to enlarge and then back again to the post, I was thinking that, in addition to having the individual screen shots in your post discussion, it would be a fun wrap-up (and quick and easy to do) to have them all in a gallery so we could move through and see the image morph through the various stages. I think it would work just fine even with the PS panel in the image (ie no need to create separate photos). Anyway, just a thought.
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Thanks very much, Stacy. Yes, you are absolutely right about the color combination of the boats. I was certainly lucky all around, showing up early for the sunset (which never really materialized)and having boats of those colors aligned so nicely. That was a great lens, only needed to carry the one with that camera. But now that I have moved to the D800 I have to lug around 3 heavy zooms. The gallery idea sounds like a good idea. I’ve never done one, so I’ll have to check out the steps when I get back from this next field trip.
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Gallery is super easy, Robin. In post editor, click add media, create gallery, select multiple photos from your library, then click on create gallery button in lower right corner. You will then have a choice how to link your photos (I choose media file) and how you want the gallery to look: square tiles, slideshow, circles, or tiled mosaic (I use tiled mosaic in ABF). You can then reorder the photos if need be by clicking and dragging them around. Make your choices and click create gallery. A minute at most once you’re used to it.
There, I saved you looking up the steps 😉
Question about your D800 – why three heavy zooms? Curious to learn what may be involved if I ever decide to upgrade from my D90.
Thanks, Stacy. That does sound easy. I’ll give it a try. As for the D800, I got it because of its exceptionally powerful sensor: It has 36 Megapixels and is a full frame (FX instead of DX). All this power is necessary only if you want to make large prints that still look sharp. A number of my clients want really big prints (e.g., a request last week for a 7-foot wide panorama). The three lenses are associated with the same requirement. They are Nikon’s 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8. All very sharp, very fast lenses. But also very heavy, as is the camera. The new D810 is only one ounce lighter and has the same Megapixel rating so no need for me to jump to that.
Nice simple process! Great starting image so it’s nice to see it kept clean and bright 🙂
Thanks, Sarah. I appreciate your comments.
The initial image straight from the camera was a nice shot. maybe a bit hazy, but perfectly adequate. What you and me and Stacy and others of our kind are constantly striving for is not “nice” or “adequate” but “wow”! It doesn’t even have to be with a capital W. And you’ve definitely achieved it here. Great color and composition. And your post processing choices? Wow”!
Thanks very much for the kind words.
What a beautiful photo and your post-processing was great. You did just what needed to be done, not going too far. It is still a very natural image.
Thanks very much. I appreciate your feedback.
Hi Robin, another great lesson! It proves that simple is better!
Thanks, I appreciate it. With all these tools at our disposal, sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop.