Turn on the Light with Photoshop!

January 07, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Often times, it's the little touches that make a photograph work. During my recent trip to New Mexico, I noticed the Inn and Spa at Loretto in downtown Santa Fe. Although the building was an interesting subject for photography during the day, my vision was to capture it at dusk. My hope was that at dusk the luminaria (i.e. lights) would be lit and that the sky would be a more interesting color.

Given my limited time in the city, my best chance for this kind of lighting was just before sunrise. I braved the freezing temperature and arrived at the Inn about 30 minutes prior to sunrise. Fortunately, the lights were on! Here's the image that I captured:

Luminaria on adobe building Note that there are a few issues with this initial capture. In an attempt to keep the highlights from blowing out, the building is underexposed. And, the sky is overexposed in my opinion. To solve those issues, I exposed two more frames--one exposed a stop brighter and another a stop darker--and then blended the three images using Nik's HDR Efex Pro 2 software to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image.

Once the exposure was corrected, I then moved onto dealing with the faulty lights. Note that two of the bags are not fully lit (circled in red). Using Photoshop CS5, I eliminated the upper bag as I didn't like how close it was positioned to the bag above it. Then, I lit the lower bag by cloning one of the other bags in the frame over it.

Luminaria on adobe building

Sometimes, using Photoshop to turn on a light can improve a photograph!


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