Back Modifications (5)
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spooky castle

By cathsnap
Early morning mist on mere and castle. Haven't edited this at all, so wondering what to do to improve it.

Tags: Castle Landscape and travel

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mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2457 United Kingdom
10 Jul 2018 2:39PM
This was a must-do shot, but a tricky one. It's also an example of something that I see quite a lot here - the atmosphere was obviously special, but how to convey it? It's wonderful to be there, to see the mist rolling over the water. Remember that it's a very different experience for an outsider to view a small flat rectangle on a screen.

The problem with mist is that it's precisely the factors that make it magical 'in the flesh' - the softness, the way depth and distance vanish - that work against it photographically. Mist usually needs some contrast added for the digital image to create a sense of atmosphere, the 'being there' feeling. Think how Old Masters added seemingly random flecks of white paint, to bring a scene to life, add vitality.

So how to process... Well everyone has their workflow, and it depends on the software that you are using. The first thing is to look carefully and think what the image actually needs to give it star quality.

This is the order that I approached things. First, look at straightness. If you view this with the grid and look closely at the verticals, it needs a very small clockwise rotation.

That will necessitate a crop, so I looked closely at how cropping could strengthen the composition. I like the inclusion of the bank in the foreground, that tells me where I am standing and it's secure dry land! But the depth could be reduced, and the sky has no interest so that can also be cropped. At the sides, there are some nice satisfying shapes in the foliage. I arrived at a crop that allowed some space, but made it a bit more concise.

I used a bit of dehaze, then added some brightness, made a Levels adjustment bringing the outer sliders in a bit to boost both highlights and shadows, and did some very gentle dodging and burning on foliage and stonework.

I haven't touched white balance, I suspect that Willie will want to warm this, I rather like the coldness.

But then, because there are so many wonderful textures and shapes, I wanted to try a mono conversion. This was done in Nik Silver Efex, with some added brightness and contrast and a tweak on the structure slider. I used a film effect, added sepia toning and a frame. It works for me, see what you think.
10 Jul 2018 4:03PM
Wow, Moira that second mod is amazing! Thanks very much for doing that and also the very helpful advice on how to edit this picture; I will be re-reading it several times to take it all in, there is so much useful info here.
banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4264 Canada
10 Jul 2018 5:27PM
Quite decent light at 3:34 AM, with the sun on the horizon.

Moiras covered everything above, really. Ideally, when you shot it, you would have taken 2 shots on a tripod, one exposed for the sky, and another for the castle, then combine the two.

In either shot, f/4 is less than ideal, with a smaller aperture much more appropriate, - so good to know for the next time.

So the post processing should address the lack of contrast, and also the severe underexposure of the scene due to the presence of a bright sky. In the end though its really about what you like and how you want it to appear.

In every post processing software thats ever been made, the first step is always, always, to check and correct white balance. Its Auto White Balance that imparts a blue hue to scenes that have a natural warm tone; this is fine to retain if you prefer it, though its better if you can compare some different looks rather than accepting the as-is version.

Ive uploaded two versions as examples.


10 Jul 2018 9:57PM
Thank you, very interesting and informative. The mist on the second mod looks great. I take your point about f4 being too small an aperture, always a bit confusing for me as the numbers are topsy turvy, I need to try f5 or f6 perhaps? Sorry my camera must be still set for old time, it was an hour later than that actually, which accounts for the quite decent light!
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2457 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2018 8:06AM

Quote:I take your point about f4 being too small an aperture, always a bit confusing for me as the numbers are topsy turvy, I need to try f5 or f6 perhaps?

Just to explain the F number, it's the focal length divided by the diameter of the aperture. So the larger the aperture, the lower the resulting number.

F8 would be good here, with the camera on a tripod.

One other point - remember that you will get much more depth of field when using wide angle than with a longer focal length.
paulbroad 14 131 1293 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2018 7:34PM
As above. The lighting and bright sky have resulted in an under exposed flat image. For me, white balance is a two edged sword. You can try and be accurate, or you can use a white balance that benefits the image. in the days of film you had no choice unless you used filters, and few did.

Different colour slide manufacturers played different tunes with white balance from blue, Kodak, to red/brown with Agfa and Fuji. Basically there were just two WB's available - tungsten or daylight. Don't get bogged down with WB - does the image look right, does it look good - or both!

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
11 Jul 2018 9:42PM
My advice is for next time...

Rather than setting out to squeeze the best possible result from what you shot, you can shoot to get it in the image to begin with, or, at least, to have it ready to maximise in processing.

To that end, you should probably raise the ISO, which will allow you to stop down the lens (smaller hole, higher number: I'd go for f/8 at 55mm, f/11 at 200mm, though I have no knowledge of the specific lens. Two stops down from maximum aperture generally gives optimum results).

Similarly, 1/30 is a slow shutter speed for a 55mm lens, and may well allow a degree of camera shake.

Overall, I'd want to shoot at 1/60, and f/8, so I'd have set the ISO to 2500. This might give some digital noise - but that could be very atmospheric... I shall see if i can do a mod to show how it might look...
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
11 Jul 2018 9:48PM
I added noise in Photoshop. I also reduced exposure and knocked the highlights back using Adobe Camera Raw (a filter in Photoshop, a way to open a file in Elements).

Then I used a Nik Efex filter called detail extractor. Finally, I burned in shadows all over, including the sky, and brightened highlights over the water.
11 Jul 2018 10:02PM
Very clever mods, this photo is beginning to look rather good! It was certainly worth doing for everything I have learnt for next time. Thanks so much everyone.
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
12 Jul 2018 7:42AM
Our pleasure, individually and collectively!

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