Everyone has old images that, when you look at them today, could benefit from Adobe Photoshop CS5's new tools. Today's image is one such case. The original image was made back in October 2002. The amount of work done to it at that time was extensive. The side of the bell tower facing the front entrance had, basically, no detail. Without some sort of detail the image wasn't worth printing. The front facade was rebuilt using copies of pieces of the side with detail. A Selection was made, copied, pasted to a new Layer, flipped horizontally, and fitted into place using Free Transform (Ctrl T). Since there was no one section that fit the facade, smaller pieces had to be "tacked" together to made a full board and batten. A stop sign down by the there the shot was taken had to be removed. Today, with CS5's Content Aware Fill that would be a ten second fix. Back in 2002, Photoshop 7, it was a lot of Clone Stamp (S) work, gently nudging shadow and light to make a believable grassy area. The sky, believe it or not, was as it appears in the original snap. There was work to do in CS5. To learn what was done with today's tools, hit the "read more".
First thing, I knew, was that I wanted the sky "as is". The plan was to bump a couple parts up with some HDR Toning (Image/Adjustments/HDR Toning). The church could use a little more definition, it could be straighten up a little to get rid of any keystoning and the colors of the foliage could be brightened a bit.
Before doing anything, an Alpha Channel Mask had to be make. This is to be able to insure any HDR effect could be taken out of the sky. If you're a frequent reader you've heard me say several times that I don't particularly like HDR'd skies. Since this would be the same image with two different techniques, you could almost make the Mask by throwing mud at the screen. Because of the lace like detail in the trees, CS5's Quick Selection Tool (W) wasn't a very good choice to select the sky. The fallback is to use Channels and Calculations (Image/Calculations) to create a quick, lacey Mask. This is an extremely easy way to make this sort of Mask, once you get over the initial fear of the Calculations dialog box.
Once the Alpha Channel Mask was made the image was duplicated (Image/Duplicate). The order of these two steps is somewhat important because you'll want the same mask available no matter which way you assemble the composite. Church over sky or sky over church.
On one duplicate the HDR Toning was applied. The battens of the bell tower walls were made more distinct, the details of the belfry openings were accentuated, and the colors of the leaves brightened. Naturally the sky was effected to a degree I found to be too rough. The Mask was applied and the sky became more natural.
The scene was sharpened using a High Pass Filter (Filters/Other/High Pass), but the change looked, literally, unreal. Skies don't need sharpening and, in this case, the leaves didn't need it either. The Mask was painted out where ever the leaves were in the sky. Areas over the church itself were painted out selectively.
As a last step, a vignette was applied using a Layer Mask with a hole knocked out of the center. The Blend Mode was changed to Multiply and the Opacity reduced to the point where the vignette was there, but not blatant.