I was at the coast hoping for a great sunset. A rain storm just passed and it was gearing up to be an epic show. Alas, some distant clouds on the horizon snuffed out any chance of a colorful sunset. I did manage this shot before the clouds completely blocked the sun. I figured it was a good time to practice some new editing skills, focus stacking and exposure blending for one composite.
Specific Feedback Requested
I would like some help with the details in the edged. I see some haloing but have not mastered a way to remove it without looking even worse.
Is this a composite: Yes
Focus stacked (I was very close to the shrubs) and exposure blend for the shadows and sky. Exposure blend photos were taken seconds apart.
Welcome to NPN Ben. Your focus stacking looks flawless to me. Everything looks sharp all the way to the horizon. Some photographers don’t like that but that’s a different issue. The dynamic range merge looks good to me as well (except for the sun hot spot). The dark cliffs near the water have good definition. One minor suggestion I would make is to clone out the small cloud in the top center. It’s an attention getter and too small to contribute much to the image.
Welcome to NPN Ben, this is a great first post. I think you will find a lot of good comments in NPN critiques, the differing perspectives of others can be very helpful. I would also encourage you to comment on the images of other members, it’s a great way to get know our community better.
In terms of your technical questions, I think the focus stack looks great, and this is a situation where it makes sense to use it. I also think you are being a little hard on yourself on the exposure blend, there is very little halo-ing and it is barely noticeable. If you use TK Luminosity Masks, Sean Bagshaws processing videos discuss several techniques for dealing with halos, his videos are well worth the investment.
In terms of the rest of the blend, the only other comment I have is that the shadows have gone very dark in the trees in the extreme upper right corner (URC). This becomes especially noticeable given how much shadow detail there is in the nearby green shrubs below the observation platform. I would try to balance that luminosity difference a bit better.
I hope you don’t mind, but here is an alternative crop to consider, that places a bit less emphasis on the dark trees in the URC. I think it also makes the sunset more prominent. Just tossing out ideas…
I am just starting to use luminosity masks with my editing and have not gotten it down to a science like Sean Bagshaws has. I do use TK panel and have looked at his tutorial videos. A lot of great information.
I do like the crop, especially since the URC was particularly dark. The space and light between the trees was very harsh so I darkened that corner. Would a selective luminosity mask work there to darken the highlights but keep shadow detail?
Yes, a Lights 2 or 3 mask would probably do the trick on reducing the brightness the sky patches, allowing you to keep more detail in the trees. And if you added any vignetting in this image, I would have not applied it to the URC. One of the nice things about the TK Vignette tool is that you can brush it away in certain areas that don’t need it. I much prefer using the more flexible TK Vignette over the canned vignette tool in say Lightroom.
Welcome aboard! Fine first post, too. You have already gotten some great feedback and I am liking Ed’s suggestions. No other thoughts come to mind. Looking forward to seeing more of your work and reading your thoughts and comments on others.