Today's Awesome Guest Blogger: Steve Casey


One of the cool things about leading digital photography workshops is that I get to meet some awesome photographers - and to learn from them. Steve Casey, a talented photographer from Las Vegas, Nevada, is one such individual.

After seeing the opening image for this post in the group slide show at the end of our Oregon Coast workshop, I asked Steve to share his processing technique.  

Take it away Steve! 

A big “Thank You” to Alex Morley and Rick and Susan Sammon, for a wonderful photo workshop experience on the dramatically beautiful Oregon Coast. Living in Las Vegas, I tend to focus my photography on the mountains and deserts of the west. This workshop was an opportunity to visit a new photographic environment.

Opening image: One of my favorite images was made at the beach below Haceta Head Lighthouse near Florence, Oregon. We arrived on the beach in time to evaluate the scene for a sunset shoot. The tide was out, which allowed us to walk a good distance out toward the water and get a better perspective of Haceta Head Lighthouse.  Reflections were provided by waves retreating back out to sea after advancing around and beyond our feet and tripod legs. The setting sun highlighted the mist raised by the breeze and the crashing surf. A great number and variety of seabirds were evident on the sea stacks.  Smaller groups would gather to feed at the water’s edge. It was a wonderful atmosphere and picturesque scene.


Above: My original capture was exposed for the highlights and provided enough detail in the darks.  My first step in processing was to Enable Profile Corrections in Lightroom’s “Lens Corrections” in the Develop Module. No other Lightroom adjustments were needed, so I opened the file in Photoshop. My goal was to render this scene as I remembered it in my mind. To do so, I decided to use Viveza and Color Efex Pro 4 from the NIK Collection. In Viveza I made minimal adjustments to Contrast, Saturation, Structure, Shadow Adjustments, and Warmth.


Above: To increase the strength of the lighthouse, the light on the bluff below the lighthouse, the sky, clouds, mist, reflections, and bring some detail to the shadowed sea stacks, I employed multiple filters in Color Efex Pro 4. Detail Extractor was used at a low strength. 0% Opacity control points were placed in the sky and clouds to maintain their softness. The Sunlight Filter brought out the backlighting from the setting sun in the wave mist.  It also highlighted the clouds and reflections while adding to the overall soft look with detail that I desired. Darken/Lighten Center was placed to help draw the viewer’s eye to the lighthouse and sunset light on the bluff.  In the same effort, Tonal Contrast was used to further increase detail – 0% Opacity control points minimized the effect in the sky and clouds.

The final steps were targeted to specific parts of the image. A Tony Kuyper Luminosity Masked Curves Layer was used to bring the highlights down. Painting a Dodge/Burn Layer at low opacity brightened the lighthouse. A Hue/Saturation Layer reduced the luminosity of the sky and added a small amount of warmth. In the end, I was pleased that the image represented my memory of this special visit.

IMAGE_4_Moon Set.jpg
Above: We were fortunate to revisit this same location the next evening.  The tide was still out.  Clouds were few and far between. Another lesson in the need to capture a location when you see it - it is unlikely to ever be the same again. While the time before the sunset was not as impressive as the first evening, the moon set presented another opportunity.  A truly beautiful location that I am very fortunate to have visited.

Those interested, may view more of my images on my web site.

Thanks again Alex, Rick and Susan.