Monday, August 20, 2012

Inspiration Interpreted In Photoshop

National Historic Sites in the US are typically places meant to inspire us.  There are 89 of these sites, only one in Connecticut and only one dedicated to American Painting.  It's Weir Farm NHS, located in the towns of Ridgefield and Wilton.  "It commemorates the life and work of J. Alden Weir, the American impressionist painter and member of the Cos Cob Art Colony."  It's only about ten miles from the gallery and we go there at least four times a year.  Today's image is a panorama of the back of the house from a lower garden.  One of the more interesting bits about Weir is the fact that he initially disliked impressionism, saying "I never in my life saw more horrible things" (Wikipedia).  This from a man who later championed impressionism and his fame came from that style of work.  (Ya never know, do ya.)
It is an peaceful place and one full of photographic potential.  The buildings, the rock walls, the orchard, grounds, pond, meadows and gardens all make good photographic fodder.  Walking around the grounds for as little as ten minutes can produce scores for images, different on each visit.  Today's image is an amalgam of a four shot pano and a set of clouds taken a couple weeks ago.  The sky was an overcast gray and pretty flat.  To find out how the sky was placed (it was really easy), hit the "Read More".

As usual, today's image started out by being offloaded from the camera to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4).  Saved on two external hard drives.  The first step was making the panorama.  The four images were selected and sent over to Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6) with the command Photo/Edit in/Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.  Once there, the auto setting works fine.  One thing to note is to use the checkbox saying fix any vignetting.  Makes things much easier.  After the pano was made it was back over to LR4 (File/Save File/Close).

In LR4, in the Basic Panel, the Highlight and Whites sliders were brought up (moved to the right) until the sky was completely blown out (no detail at all).  I find I get better control doing something like this in LR4 (or ACR [Adobe Camera Raw]) rather than messing around in CS6.  It's quick and easy.  Just two sliders and you're done.  Next is another trip over to CS6 to add the clouds. 

The clouds came from a pano done just a couple posts ago  Can you find it?  The cloud Layer was stacked on top of the image Layer and the Blend Mode changed to Darker Color.  Since the sky in the image Layer had been rendered completely white, any color would be "darker"  Therefore the clouds popped into the image with no need of Masking.  There were a couple spots where the fine branches holding single or few leaves washed out, leaving leaves suspended in midair.  A Layer Mask was actually used to eliminate those leaves.

Because today's image is another pano and the lowest rock wall was close to the camera position it did have a bow to it.  The bow was removed using CS6's Adaptive Wide Angle Filter.  Additionally, because the images making up the pano were shot fairly wide (18mm) there was some distortion of the barn on the left.  The left wall appeared to lean out at the top.  In CS6 Free Transform (CTRL T) with Perspective chosen was used to straighten up the side of the barn.  This produced a slight tilt of the main house, with the left side slightly higher than the right.  Believe it or not, CS6's Puppet Warp (Edit/Puppet Warp) was used to correct this situation.  Anchor Pins were dropped around the house allowing only the area either inside or outside the Pins to be moved.  Because  the house was inside the Pin area it was a simple matter of pulling down on the left eave of the house to straight the roofline.
Once back over in LR4 it was pretty much a "standard" set of finishing adjustments.  Clarity, vibrance and a vignette to finish off the image.