It took me a long time to process this photo, almost two years. From the very beginning, I saw a great deal of potential in this shot and was very excited to include it in my portfolio and showcase it on this blog. For me, this photo represents the essence of Northern California’s coast. It has all the ingredients of what makes California so unique and mesmerizing.
I tried every technique I normally use to blend multiple exposures, some of them you can find in my free tutorials (HDR processing in Photomatix, HDR in Photoshop and Lightroom and single RAW processing in Lightroom) on this blog but somehow I never managed to achieve the look I desired. Every single version looked unnatural and forced.
I took another attempt to salvage this photo after I finished The Art of Digital Blending video course (see my review here) and was eager to try luminosity masking technique in the real life complex cases. I probably spent more time than necessary in Photoshop but at the end, it was worth it. I finally managed to achieve something I am not embarrassed to showcase.
Deconstructing Featured Photo
Processing: Digital Blending with Luminosity Masks
Lightroom: import, tagging, contrast, color correction.
I opened 3 bracketed photos directly in Photoshop and placed each image on the separate layer. Then, I used luminosity masking techniques to create a final HDR image.
- Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (sky, water). I pushed image a bit too far in Lightroom and as a result introduced lots of noise in the sky area of the photo. I had to use very aggressive noise reduction settings (preset: Strong) to fight it.
- I used Perfect Effects 9 from onOne Software enhance details and contrast (mountains). I used following filters: Dynamic Contrast, Color Enhancer.