What do you do if you have a "story telling" shot and the sky sucks? You shoot it anyway. There's a dozen different ways to do "something" with it during post processing. Today's image took several trips from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 to Adobe Photoshop CS5 and back. It started in LR3, where it's stored in the DAM (Digital Asset Management) files. It sits where it was originally put on the hard drives, but there are several ways to point to the image. If I knew where the actual file was stored I could use the file structure and just go pick it up. If I haven't any idea where the file was stored (in this case I didn't have a clue) I could go to the Key Words and find something descriptive. Boat, ocean, Connecticut were all words used for this image. Once the file was found the first stop was in the Develop Module of LR3. A few tweaks to the colors, a little shading using the Adjustment Brush (K), and some input Sharpening was all that was done there. Next it was over to PS CS5 (Ctrl E in LR3) with the Lightroom adjustments. From there the colors were maxed out using individual (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Magenta) Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers. In several cases the included masks were used to tone down colors in some areas while boasting colors in other areas. The red on the stack of the freighter was bumped up while the red at the waterline was kept muted. To find out how many more trips today's image took bouncing back and forth, hit the "read more".
The next stop was back in LR3 to find a suitable cloud image. No problem, every cloud shot I have is Key Worded with the word "cloud". (Pretty clever, right?) The cloud shot in today's image has some skyline showing. In fact, the land mass seen on the right side is from the cloud shot, not the ocean shot. I thought it just fit. So, the clouds were brought over to the "master" shot. A fairly complex mask was made using several sets of Calculations (Image/Calculations) and some selective painting on the mask. The mask was applied to the cloud Layer and inverted (Ctrl i [eye]) to reveal the ships.
Once the sky was properly masked a Duplicate of the file was created (Image/Duplicate). The reason for the duplicate was to be able to do some HDR Toning to the ships. I'm not a big fan of HDR skies, so I needed a copy of the original to be able to Mask out the HDR sky. HDR Toning was applied to the ships to generate additional "sharpness" in the ships. A dup was needed because HDR Toning requires the image to be flattened. Therefore, the toned copy of the image would become one Layer in the multi-Layer finished scene.
With the entire scene made, the image was saved and closed in PS CS5. This put a PSD file on the hard drive in the same folder as the "original" of the ships. With LR3 the image was imported into the Catalog. Once there any noise was reduced using the Luminance and Color sliders in the Detail Panel. After that the revised image was reopened in PS CS5 and saved for the web (File/Save for web and devices). This way the size and resolution could be controlled.
So there you have it. A ping pong match through LR3 and PS CS5. Each program has it strengths and each was used to its best (IMHO) advantage.