Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Swear, It's A Straight Image, Almost

Dang, look what I found, a lighthouse on Mars. Not quite and this is one of the straightest images I've ever put on the blog. The only things that have been done are cropping, sharpening and applying a vignette. Other than that, and that "should be" done on every image that you process, everything came out of the camera the way you see it. I will admit that there are a couple things that look a little hokie, but they can be explained. Not made excuses for, but rationalized. The elephant in the living room is obviously the colorcast. It looks like I must have been on Mars to get that pink tint to the overall image. Actually, what was going on was a little lunacy on my part. For those who may not know, this is a shot of Pemiquid Light in Maine, USA, not on Mars. We've been to Maine dozens of times and for the past few years we seem to wind up there in October. We've been to Pemiquid several times, we've been to Acadia NP several times and tend to wander along the coast year after year. After a while, even iconic places to shoot become tired. This year I went nuts with my Cokin filters. Hey, I've got 'em, I might as well use 'em. The color comes from a Cokin P 197 filter held in front of the lens when the shot was taken. One of the things that happens when you use something like this is that you commit to the shot having a colorcast, even shooting in RAW. One of the things I see people doing when they use Cokin filters is use the filter holder attached to the lens. Cokin "P" filters are square (or rectangular) and need a filter holder that gets slid onto the lens adaptor. That means you have to lug around an adaptor ring for every size lens you have. I have my own "filter holder" . It's called my left hand. Seeing as the filters are square, there's an area in the corners that extend past the edge of the lens. Just hold it up in front and shoot. The time between shots is reduced, governed by how fast I can move my hand. Much quicker than using the holder. To find out more about how this "straight" shot came about, hit the "read more".

The "next" most obvious thing about the image is the disk just to the right of the lighthouse. I didn't see it when I took the shot, I don't see it in the shots without the filter and I do see it in the exact same spot in each of the shots when the filter was used. Because the camera was taken up and down from my eye and the filter held in roughly the same spot, we can determine that it's not a piece of dust on the filter. That leaves us with the fact that it is actually the Sun behind the clouds. Never even saw it until I had the images up on the computer screen. Just a bit of serendipity that happens if you fire the shutter enough times.

The "finishing" of the image involved selective sharpening. There's no reason to sharpen the sky. In nature you never see clouds with sharp edges, so don't sharpen a sky. The sea, ground, lighthouse, keepers house and fence were selected using the Quick Select (W) tool in Photoshop CS4. Any minor flaws were taken care of with the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L). The selection was used to create a Layer Mask and the layer used as a Clipping Mask to only effect the physical pieces of the images (anything other than the sky). Sharpening was by using a High Pass Filter and changing the Blend Mode to Overlay. An unsharpened vignette was added to direct the viewer's eye to the "subject of interest" and the image was "finished".