Wow! What an honor to guest blog for the "godfather of photography." Thank you Rick!
Last week, while having a meal at a pub in the Conwy Valley, North Wales with a great group of photographers on a workshop that I'd arranged with Rick, the subject of viral images came up. I proudly shared one of my images, seen above, and when Rick saw it he said, "Anthony you've got to do a guest blog." I thought he was kidding, but here I am writing a post. As Rick would say, "How cool is that!"
Capturing the image
The featured image for this post was created while on holiday in Disneyland, Paris. While my wife took our three kids on Space Mountain for one last ride before the ride closed, I took the time to go out and get this shot. Earlier in the day I used Rick's Photo Sundial app to figure out where and at what time the sun was going to go down. I knew I wanted the castle in the image, so I set up at a spot I'd selected earlier and waited for the light to change.
The image was captured without a tripod. I used a rock and a crushed Coke can to get the camera level, then pressed down hard on the camera body in the hope there wouldn't be movement - not ideal but sometimes you've got to make do with what you have to hand.
When I returned home I began processing the image in Lightroom 4. I started out with the image below. I was shooting in manual mode and exposed for the highlights. As you can see from the histogram, there's no clipping in the highlights. There is, however, a little clipping in the shadows, but this can be easily recovered in Lightroom.
Settings were: ISO 100 to minimize the noise in the image. Shutter 0.8. Focal length 25mm (it was at 24mm, the widest the lens would go, but must have moved on the Coke can!) Aperture f22 (I wanted as much of the scene to be in focus, so I used a small aperture and focused one third into the scene to get a good depth of field). Camera, Canon 5DMK2 lens 24-70 f2.8
To start the post processing, I enabled lens correction, which corrected distortion, chromatic aberration, and lens vignetting. Then I did the following (in order of the sliders).
Moved the temperature slider to intensify the color of the sky and to increase the overall warmth of the image. Reduced the exposure to darken the whole image. Increased the fill-light to recover details in the shadows. Reduced the blacks to improve the contrast. (TIP: Hold down the Alt key when moving this slider to show clipping so you don't go too far and send your blacks to pure black). Increased the brightness and contrast. Increased clarity to really make the image pop. Increased vibrance (this increases the vibrance of the colors that aren't already saturated and leaves the already saturated colors).
As Rick would say, "The name of the game is to fill the frame," but in this case I decided to follow another one of Rick's tips – "Cut the clutter" – and cropped the image to the 16:9 format for a stronger composition.
Then I added a vignette with a large enough feather to draw the eye to the center of the image, and finally brightened the castle with an adjustment brush to increase the exposure to make it really stand out.
Below are my before and after images. Kinda cool what you can do in Lightroom!
Thanks again for the opportunity, Rick.
Your readers can lean more about my work on my web site.