Evolution of a Picture

January 12, 2013  •  1 Comment

Earlier this week, I captured a few photographs while visiting the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before a Fighting Illini basketball game. One of the buildings that I photographed was the Foreign Language Building:

Foreign Language Building Often times, a photograph such as this one requires multiple post processing steps. As you can see from this initial picture straight out of the camera, this image required relatively extensive processing!

to be added My first priority is to capture enough details in both the highlights and shadows. So, I took four more exposures--varying the shutter speed by a stop. In the end, I had this image along with a frame one stop overexposed, a frame two stops overexposed, a frame one stop underexposed and another frame two stops overexposed. I blended the five exposures together using Nik's HDR Efex Pro 2 software to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image.

My next priority is to achieve straight lines. At the time of capture, I try my best to keep the lens perfectly aligned. I rely on the Virtual Horizon feature of the D800 to help me get there. Keeping a wide angle lens perfectly aligned minimizes distortion. As a result, you'll notice that I end up with too much of the brick floor in the foreground. Thankfully, the high resolution of the D800 file allows me to crop this frame while retaining a large file. However, despite my best efforts, I was not pleased with the lines in this image:

to be added I use the Crop Perspective tool within Photoshop to straighten the lines. To use the tool, select the Crop tool while temporarily avoiding entering values for the Width and Height. Then, draw a crop around your image. I tend to start by selecting the entire image. Once a crop box is drawn, the Perspective box will appear. Click the box to activate Perspective. Finally, I then drag the two horizontal and two vertical lines into the frame individually to ensure that each line is perfectly straight. Then drag them back out and enter to apply the change.

Now that the lines are straight, I proceed with an ordinary crop. This step removed the distracting brick floor in the foreground.

My next priority is to fix the challenging white balance (color) issues. In this building, there is a substantial amount of daylight streaming in from the windows. And, there is also a significant amount of florescent interior lighting--which is throwing a green cast over much of the frame. Mixed lighting sources in the same frame can be a challenging problem. To correct the colors, I create a new "Color" layer. Then, I select my desired color from a segment of the image and paint that color over the problem area. For example, in this image I selected the color of some bricks that appeared to have accurate colors and then applied that color to the bricks with the strong green cast. For more details on how to do this, please CLICK HERE to review my blog posting on this topic.

With some of my Foreign Language Building images, I turned on the lights with Photoshop. CLICK HERE to read more about how I accomplish this. In this case, I simply selected a brush using the color of one of the lights and then painted the white light within some of the other lamps.

After working through these steps, I ended up with this finished image:

Foreign Language Building I then tried a longer focal length to compress the scene. After applying the same post processing steps as with the first image, the result was this next image--which is my favorite of the two:

Foreign Language Building

 


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MARK D STUMP(non-registered)
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