If you're a follow of "The Kayview Gallery" this shot may look suspiciously familar. Before going to the "Read More", slide down and take a look at Wednesday's post. Both are shots of Hartford Connecticut, taken from within a hundred feet of each other. One of the big differences between the shots (besides the leaves) is that Wednesday's is a four shot panorama and today's image is a single shot, cropped to a cinematic format. Is one a better way to get the shot? No, just different. A couple facts about the difference between the two. Neither has the original sky (but today's is closer to the way it was). Wednesday's is more heavily "Photoshopped". Today's was a bigger problem to get the sky right. Take a look at the enlargement of today's image (click on the image). See if you can see what was done to "improve" the sky. To find out what was done, hit the "Read More".
Some work was done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.2. (and could have been done in Adobe Camera Raw [ACR]) Just the "normal things. Sharpening, add a little Vibrance, tweak the Clarity a smidge (I've always wanted to use that word in a post someday), take some blue out of the shadows, just a few slider movements. As a result, halos formed around the leaves. The buildings were "acceptable", but those leaves looked phony, even though they are in the original shot. The sky looked like a patchwork of blue. Very funky.
I think I've looked at today's image at least once a day since it was loaded onto the computer last Saturday. I kept trying to "fix" the sky. In Wednesday's image I just plain replaced the sky with a nice set of clouds. An easy fix. But, whatever I tried with today's image just wasn't working. This morning I had an "aha" moment. The fix would be easy. Just replace the sky with the same sky. ???
In the original shot the sky is an extremely consistent gradient. Darker blue at the top and lighter blue at the bottom (which is the way it works in nature anyway). During the week I had tried several ways of selecting the sky. Quick Selection Tool (W), Magic Wand (W), Calculations (Image/Calculations), nothing worked well. Today I used Color Range (Select/Color Range) and it worked perfectly, almost. It picked up the sky with a couple clicks, but also got the water in the river and miscellaneous bit throughout the buildings. A couple minutes of touchup with the Lasso Tool (L) took care of that. The Selection was then saved (Select/Save Selection).
The big trick of the day was setting the foreground (FG) and background (BG) colors. For the FG color the selection was at the top og the image in a nice large patch of solid blue. For the BG color, a spot between the buildings was used. Then it was a simple matter of putting a new Layer on top of the scene Layer and filling it with a Foreground to Background Gradient (G). I reselected (Select/Load Selection) the sky and hit the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Instant Mask, smooth gradient, done. All of the halos around the leaves were gone and an acceptable image remained.