Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fading A Mask To Produce An Effect

We were up in Maine shooting around Acadia National Park last week and did a couple of "photo walks".  One was a night photography "safari" in the park with "Acadia Photo Safari".  Howie Motenko is the owner and guide.  Nice guy, knows some of the better spots for photography in the area and was very willing to help anyone on the trip with any technical issues.  For us, the big reason to signup was not so much any help with photography but because he knew the back roads and shortcuts getting from one site to another.  If you're at the national park I'd really recommend taking one of Howie's tours.  The other thing we did was take part in Scott Kelby's World Wide Photo Walk.  I've lead walks for the past five years and this was the first one where we were participants.  We didn't do just one, we did two.  The morning was in Acadia with guess who.  Howie and his gang from Mount Desert Island Photo Club.  Great group of people.  Very friendly.  The afternoon/evening walk was in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, about three hours back down the coast from Acadia.  Also a good time and the combination of the night shoot and the Boothbay walk resulted in today's image.  To see how it was done, hit the "Read More".

Today's image was conceived before we ever got home.  I knew I had a few "interesting" shots of the sunset over Boothbay Harbor and a couple of star shots from the night photo shoot.  Thought to my self, "why not"?  I worked both images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) and then sent them over to Adobe Photoshop (PS) as Layers.  I added a Layer Mask (rectangle with a dot in the center at the bottom of the Layers Pallet) to the top Layer.  In this case it was the star shot, but it could have just as easily been the sunset shot. 

I used the Gradient Tool (G) and applied a Black to White Gradient to the Mask.  The B to W Gradient gives you a fresh start every time you make a stroke.  That's unlike the Foreground to Transparent Gradient that allows you to make multiple fades in different directions.

I tried several versions of the Gradient.  Some long, some short.  Wound up that a shorter Gradient worked better.  Long Gradient's resulted in stars showing up to far down into the fading sunset light and looked really fake (as opposed to the somewhat fake of the final image.

A slight vignette was applied to finish the image.  Not your (or rather my) typical vignette applied in LR (Effects/Post Crop Vignette).  Had I done that the vignette would have been too centered and might have blocked some of the stars in the upper corners.  Instead, I used the Radial Filter found with the "tools" (Crop, Spot, Red Eye, Gradient, Redial Filter and Adjustment Brush).  The image was made incredibly small on the screen and the filter made about double the height of the image.  That way the outer edges of the width of the selection was the full width of the image at the top of the image.  Therefore the filter had no effect on the night sky portion of the image.

There should be a few more images posted in the next week or so, but it was a good trip, good vacation and we met some good people.