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By WeeGeordieLass    
Hello Guys,

I'm happy with my composition on this image that I made of Castlerigg Stone Circle, but I'm undecided about my post processing.

I feel that I should lighten the foreground and stones but at the same time I don't want to ruin the mood of the shot.

Would be grateful to know your thoughts.

Many thanks


Tags: Sunset Lake district Castlerigg Landscape and travel

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Chinga Plus
10 3 2 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 9:36AM
This is beautiful...
Excellent photography...
Isabel GrinGrin
ddolfelin Plus
9 103 3 Wales
14 Jan 2017 9:40AM
Hi Elaine.
Good to see you about.
I'd leave this lovely picture exactly as it is although it has the potential for a play in PShop.
Was going to give you an award but you seemingly don't want them!
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2343 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 9:41AM
Hi Elaine, haven't seen you in the CG for a while, welcome back!

You've raised the question - my answer is that I opened this and my first thought was to wonder how you had processed it rather than to appreciate the composition (which is very effective). I find the processing a bit intrusive. Can you upload the original please as a version or modification?

It's a wonderful sight to experience and a very tricky problem exposure-wise, I can imagine that you have already lightened the foreground and the peaks quite a bit. My approach with this sort of problem is generally to work on the highlights in the dark areas first, it might work here.
14 Jan 2017 9:53AM
Thanks Isabel, Peter and Moira.

Thanks Moira...I'll upload the original - somethings not right with my processing but I don't know how to fix it.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2343 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 10:05AM
How are you processing this? I rather like the original, thanks for uploading it. My doubt over the main upload is that one doesn't actually see saturated greens and purples in shadows. So I would want to lighten, but keep the subdued tones. I'll see what I can do.
14 Jan 2017 10:24AM
Hi Moira,

In general;

From RAW In LR

Converted to Adobe Vivid
Reduced highlights
Lightened the shadows
Corrected white & black clipping
Added graduated filters to sky (darkened) and foreground (lightened)
Dehaze slider
Increased the greens

In Photoshop
Dodged the whites

All resulting in a bit of an overcooked image I think!!!



mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2343 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 10:33AM
Thanks for the info. I don't use LR, so difficult to comment. I am suspicious of Vivid, because vivid is what the colours in the land at this time of day are not.Otherwise, much the same as I have done. I've uploaded my own mod, a lot of use of the dodge tool on highlights, large brush, very low exposure; that's particularly in the lower half of the frame. I find the greens more natural but I have lost some of the drama in the sky.

The foreground rock looks dark, monolithic; but it's in heavy shadow and if you lighten it much further it looks unnatural to my eye.
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1774 England
14 Jan 2017 11:21AM
Hi, Elaine -

'Vivid' hit me in the eye, as well. Almost never a good idea to do anything involving this word, I'd say.

Experiment time. I've recently got an Adobe CC subscription, and am playing with the things that Photoshop and Lightroom can do that Elements doesn't. So far, I've only used PS to edit, not LR, but there's a first time for everything.

My first mod used PS Curves to lighten the shadows while holding the highlights (more or less - early days with Curves!), and my second then dodged the snow, brightening highlights, and revealing puddles in the snow and grass, I think.

On to play with LR. I may be a little while...
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1774 England
14 Jan 2017 11:22AM
Uploading - I need to burn in the grey clouds, as well, don't I?
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1774 England
14 Jan 2017 11:33AM
And then...

LR isn't going to help a lot - what this needs is either a layers thingy (and area I have meddled with, but can't do reliably) or a graduated filter (never tried).

I suspect you may be adept with both... Use the sky from the original, and the foreground and hills from a modified version. This separates the processing of the sky (to keep it really moody) from the foreground, where you need a little brightness (but only relatively: sparkle isn't the word, but a hint of brightness-to-be-seen-when-it-gets-light.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2343 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 12:01PM
Just as an afterthought - look at carper1's portfolio if you don't know it. He's very good at conveying the subdued tones in the land at dawn and dusk.
Niknut Plus
10 2.8k 82 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 12:14PM
Great shot !!.....lovely colours in that beautiful sky !!

I've added a mod to make the foreground more prominent, to add a bit of depth, then added a touch
of HDR, then adjusted the levels of the f/g to add a bit 'zing'...........Smile

The possibilities are endless, but my version is just one possibility ???????.Grin
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4200 Canada
14 Jan 2017 1:00PM
I think you lose the mood if you lighten the foreground. It certainly gives you more detail on the stones, but the problem arises in the first place due to the bright sky underexposing the entire image.
Using Adobe Vivid applies a preset, so IMO you lost control when you used a preset.

I would suggest you try to even the exposeure with the sky and land, which is like a bracketed exposure, so you have a darker sky, and a slightly brighter foreground while maintaining contrast. I did thus using layers to adjust both areas separately.

The mod is uploaded.


TrevBatWCC Plus
12 13 17 England
14 Jan 2017 2:59PM
Looks good to me, Elaine Smile Love that dramatic sky, if anything I'd brighten the foreground just a little, but not too much otherwise it would look washed-out.
Trev Smile
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2343 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 4:18PM
I've been thinking quite bit about this one. I think the underlying problem is that a sunset or sunrise shot is really about the sky, sometimes with a strong structure silhouetted against it. As soon as you try to make the composition about the foreground you hit a problem, because of course the light is in totally the wrong direction for that foreground. That stone is so powerful, so dominant, and we instinctively want to see detail in the texture; but as soon as you enhance it the effect looks false because we also know instinctively that the surface is in deep shadow.

In another setting, it could be interesting to get down to ground level and silhouette the stones against the low sun. But I suspect that's not on here because of the height of the skyline.
14 Jan 2017 4:30PM
Fabulous images, great subject matter.

paulbroad 13 131 1290 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 4:42PM
Itis vivid, it is in your face and it makes you look. that, in itself, is surely a success? It makes the viewer look and stay a while. So many landscapes look the same,but this does not.

You have done very well to retain all that sky detail. The correct decision.

For me, the problem with many sunsets and sunrise shots is that they have no subject, other than the sky and that is often not enough. I quite like this. processing, other than helping others to understand is not relevant providing the final image works.

I think I might employ the dodge tool with care to bring the main stone into a little more prominence but without loosing contrast.

14 Jan 2017 5:56PM
I agree that it's about the sky and over-emphasising the foreground is more unnatural than the vivid thing, which in this case I think is just right. Keep your original. First guts feels are often right....Fiona
pamelajean Plus
14 1.5k 2188 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2017 7:23PM
It's an attactive sunset, Elaine, and I too like your composition.

All too often we see sunsets that have no foreground interest, and it's rare to find a sunset sky that commands a lot of attention on its own.
So here you have the standing stones in your foreground, and I see nothing wrong with showing them in silhouette.

The age-old problem is getting both sky and foreground detail in a sunset. If you expose for the sky, the land is dark. If you expose for the land, the sky gets washed out. Bracketing is one solution, then combining land and sky in processing. Most cameras have a built-in bracketing feature, so you donít need to do this manually.

Another ides is an ND graduated filter, as it will help balance the brighter sky with the darker land. You can use it to darken the sky and allow the camera to get enough light to expose the landscape.

Silhouettes are a natural phenomena at sunset because the bright sky renders anything in the foreground as dark. Of course, you could use flash, and I have seen some interesting images with flash used on something like a plant with the sunset sky behind it. But it often looks unnatural.


dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1774 England
15 Jan 2017 8:22AM
A number of different interpretations are possible, and we each seem to want somethign different. That's called diversity, and it's great when a picture can be so many ways.

One option (sighs everywhere) is HDR - I'll now attempt faux-HDR, to see if it will let me get somewhere near where I really want to see this - dark sky, and enough foregroudn detail to feel real - as you view a scene like this, your eyes will accomodate to the sy and foreground in turn, and make you feel as if you see a greater dynamic range than you ever do at one time...
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1774 England
15 Jan 2017 8:30AM
Done. Unsubtle, but then I am...

I used ACR to do -2, -1, +1 and +2 variations, merged these with the original in Photomatix, using the 'Deep' preset. I burned in the sky and dodged the middle distance.

Other interpretations are possible, of course. But does this offer an avenue to explore?

15 Jan 2017 2:45PM
Hi Guys,

Sorry I couldn't reply to you all sooner....yesterday afternoon after checking out the weather forecast I dropped everything to rush up to Blea Tarn in the Lake District (one and a half hour drive from Blackpool), only to witness the "sunset that never was"!!! This morning domestic duties called and all things photography had to be put aside.

It was lovely to see all of the help, advice, mods and comments from you all and it has really helped to clear my find and I think I have finally realized what it is that's bugging me with this shot.

It's the greens and the snow which are too bright for me!!

I like the sky which is quite close to what I remember it was like, but yes, it's definitely the foreground where I've gone astray with my processing.

I'm going to start again with the RAW file and process from the start.

Moira; nice mod - more natural greens...agree looks much better in that area. Will check out Carper1's portfolio.

Dudler; thanks for all your help and suggestions and working so hard on the mods - I like your 3rd mod the best. I've tried HDR but never managed to get natural looking results.

Niknut; thanks for the mod it's really interesting to see different interpretations of one image

Willie; nice mod - Yes I think using the "Adobe Vivid" option in LR was a mistake.

Trev: thanks I'm glad you like it.

John(Lifesnapper) - Cheers, it's a fabulous sunset and sunrise during the winter and summer solstice New Agers, Pagans and Druids go there to worship the sun

Paul; Agree 100% about the dodge tool on the main stone and I'm going to do that for my final version of this image.

Fiona; Yes I do love the bright sky and it did look quite like that at the time, I think the foreground whites and greens are just a tad too bright though.

Pamelajean; Yes, the sky was quite a bit brighter than the land. I had a 2 stop ND grad filter on my lens but in hindsight maybe I should have doubled up my grads.

Thank you so much everyone for you interest and help. You have all helped me to figure out what I've done wrong here, and it will help me greatly with my future processing.

Best wishes

Elaine GrinGrinGrin

Robert51 12 7 110 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2017 3:47PM
Hi Elaine and I'm sorry for being a little late to this one

I love the image with all those wonderful colours that nature has a way of producing.

The mod I wanted to keep those colours but wanted to bring out more of that detail. I have done this in PS. I hope you like it...

15 Jan 2017 3:52PM
Hi Robert,

Yes I do like your mod thanks.

It was a great sunset and your colors in the sky are similar to what I remember.

Thanks for your help.

Elaine Grin

banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4200 Canada
15 Jan 2017 3:59PM
In LR Elaine, Im sure you are aware of the adjustment brush, which does allow to to apply a + or a minus exposure on any area you use the brush on; so, for example, you could lighten the foreground, and darken the sky in LR, in RAW if you wanted. Though not exactly the same as a Photoshop layer, its effect is identical.

dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1774 England
15 Jan 2017 4:14PM
Elaine - a simple thank-you for responding in so much detail!

A delay for the sake of taking pictures and dealing with family is absolutely allowable! We all have such competing pressures - I am impressed by going 60 miles or more for a sunset, as well!
16 Jan 2017 5:45PM
Hi Willie,

Yes thanks I sometimes use the adjustment brush in LR. I do find the dodge/burn brush in PS easier and more accurate to use for some reason though



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