Before and after is a series of images where I walk you through the dark energies I channel to create my final images... In reality these posts will take you step by step through my post processing to get to the final image I post. If you have any questions or want to see a specific image done, leave a comment below.
We're going to start this series off with a relatively simple image in regards to post processing. The heavy lifting was done by the amazing light show put on by Mother Nature and I just had to be sure I didn't screw that up.
My goal for the final image was to make sure to give the drama going on in the sky the ability to shine, make the image look moody, and not drown out the little details that give the image a sense of "being there" like the color on the rocks, the lights of the city in the background, and the depth and contrast of the sky. The following steps are my effort to do all of this.
This shot consists of two exposures. Once slightly darker one to cover the sky and the bright light put out by lightening and one slightly lighter one that would help keep some detail in the dark rocks and lighthouse in the foreground.
It did a quick blend of the two exposures using just a plain layer mask and painting in the lighter parts of the image.
My next step was to use a curves layer to bring out some of the details on the rocks. My goal was to keep some of the bright blue that reflected on the wet rocks from the lightning and I think that it gives the image a little extra pop.
One of the things bothering me was that the lighthouse had an orange tint to it from the tungsten lights of the dock that was behind me. That orange always screams "Artificial!" to me. So I used a color filter layer set to Deep Blue and painted it on to the lighthouse and the rocks in the foreground that were hit by the light.
My next step was to do a mid-tones luminosity mask to play with overall contrast of the image. I wanted those bolts to jump out of the screen at viewers. So by brightening them and adding a little more shadow to the clouds around them, they stand out better. Plus I took the time to straighten the lighthouse a little by warping the image. It was subtle, but kept bothering me.
The image still didn't jump out at me so I wanted to add even more punch. I did another mid-tones luminosity mask, but this time with a much bigger curve. That got me close to where I wanted the final image to be.
I wanted to bring out that foreground just a little more, so I used a shadow luminosity mask to pull them back a little.
The final step was to open the image in Viveza 2 so that I could add some structure, contrast, and to darken the upper clouds. I don't use Viveza a lot, but it has a few tools I like to give an image more punch. I will be sad when it finally stops working with photoshop.
That's all it took this time. Sometimes, when the subject is amazing and the light is good, you just don't need to do that much work. Part of getting better at post-processing is knowing when to have a heavy hand and when to take a step back. I hope you enjoy this blog post. You can shoot me any questions through my contact page or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have an image of mine you want to see me do in a future Before my & After post? Let me know!