Sunday, April 17, 2011

Creation of "Storm Over Sedona"

Taken in Sedona Arizona this Mindscape image is manipulated to emphasize the power of the clouds. A number of different processes were used to create this image.

Beginning with a straight shot in a day when a storm system was moving in but not threatening to the extent that the final image would have you believe. Here is the original image.

Like many images on digital or film a correct exposure gives a flat look to the image.

While the image was shot as a raw format file, I did not take multiple images with the intention of creating a HDR image. However, by using the curves feature in Photoshop I can create a similar effect, using the original to create 2 additional images, one with the equivalent of 2 stops over exposed an one 2 stops under exposed.

The three images subjected to HDR treatment with Photomatix software looked like this:

2 stops under

correct metering

Two stops overexposed

The result of this is a HDR images that captures a much broader range of light and color

There's no question that this image is superior to the others and if I were creating a straight image, or doing a documentary photographic book of Arizone, this is where I'd be stopping. However, as a work of art the image is just missing something for me.

Now I take the image above and create two copies, one a toned monochrome or a duochrome and the other an exact copy of the HDR "original". I put the finished "original aside as an archive so that I don't lose it by manipulating it accidently and hitting the save button.

Now I take the monochrome and copy it and paste it over the color image. So the file I have is now the monochrome over color. Now choosing the eraser and modifying the opacity so that the eraser does not remove the entire first layer with one stroke, I slowly bring back sections of the image toward the full color -leaving untouched the sky to emphasize the gray of the clouds. In the central part of the image I restore the full color but you'll notice that in the foreground I do not return the image to full color but rather bring it back about 30-40%. This is because I found the deep red of the foreground dirt was distracting from the mood that I was seeking to create.

Then I restore a very small amount of color to the sky,

Now, for the final touch. Sometimes I will print the image like this and handpaint the sky, sometimes I will clone watercolor skys that I have created for other images, but in this case I simply used the paintbrush to add some red into the sky. A border emphasizing one of the colors - in this case yellow - frames the image nicely and I'm ready to identify a favorite charity to benefit from sales of the image and place the image in my gallery for sale!

Purchase an open edition print or card of this image, here.

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