The Mothership +Rework


This morning in Acadia I was shooting in another direction as the light was hitting the cliffs. It was such a cool moment that I actually came back again the next day to the exact same spot to try to improve a bit. This day, when the light on the cliffs receded I started to pack my bag and I turned around and the sun had just gone above this cloud bank. Within three minutes this was all gone and gray. It felt otherworldly as this glow of clouds hung below the larger cloud bank above.

Specific Feedback Requested

I’m not as convinced on this one as I was the other two. Open to thoughts and suggestions. These images are pushing some of my current skills, this one I had to double raw process to get some detail in all areas. I still had to handle the area with the sun a little with some softening effects. The tree on the far right bothers me a bit and I’m tempted to just crop it out but I wanted to see if it bothered others also. Is there too much detail in the shadows in the foreground?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No

1 Like

No there isn’t. In fact this is one of the things I spend time on during post processing. It seems to me that there is no general rule about how dark the shadows should be. It varies from image to image and often determines the mood of the image. It’s not like AA’s zone system where shadows should be in zone 2-3. These rocks are so beautiful that it would be a shame to hide them in darkness. And they have a nice glow to them.

Yes the tree on the right could be considered an issue. Although I see plenty of museum quality artwork that has objects at the edge and nobody seems to care. You could do a minimal crop off the right that includes the trunk of the tree but not the branches. The branches you then remove with edit/fill.

The best thing about this image is the emergence of sunlight. It’s that special moment when the sky cracks open and the light of the sun suddenly floods everything. Your high tones are probably clipped but that doesn’t really bother me. The sun is so bright we can’t even look into it.

1 Like

This is another beautiful take on Acadia NP, David. The clouds and color in the sky is certainly amazing; I can see where you came up with the title. The sky looks a little blown, but then the sun is actually that bright so it isn’t a deal breaker for me. I would definitely crop and clone the tree along the right edge of the frame. I hope you don’t mind, but here is a repost with what I was thinking. This is a magnificent view for sure. This looks like it could be from Otter Cliff as I have a B&W image that is similar without that stellar sky you have.

@Igor_Doncov, thank you for this, I fear pushing into the realm of 2010’s HDR look. I wanted them to be light enough to explore a bit, but not so bright as to be unnatural.

That is my plan if I choose to go with the crop, the image that @Ed_Lowe shared is what I was thinking.

Again, kind of what I was thinking. You can’t expose for the sun…I do have other images that have more detail but what I was finding is that when I brought them in, they were too dark, so when I brightened them up to match the rest of the sky they ended up blown anyway. So I added a couple radial filters in that area to decrease the contrast and warm it up a bit so it isn’t pure white.

Exactly what pulled me in, even though it was all happening behind my back! Although I probably wouldn’t have been able to do much with it until it went above the cloud bank anyways.

@Ed_Lowe thank you, the positive reception from those who have visited often has helped to build some confidence that while I have by no means arrived, I am on a better path than I thought.
The crop you proposed is what I had been playing with before posting here. I usually wait until everything is done with an image before I crop, that way if I ever changed my mind, all my masks etc, would still cover the whole image. It is on top of Otter Cliff. The path up from Boulder Beach has all those little trails of use that lead up on top of the cliffs, had to make sure I was careful but I found I enjoyed the spaces there more so than the overlook from the top.

Over the past few years my brother and I have tried to stay away from the iconic locations in the park as they are just to crowded with people. It is not to bad in the early morning before sunrise as most folks do not get up that early except for other photographers. The less visited areas are just as beautiful IMO and the photography is just as satisfying if not more so . Glad you enjoyed your trip and looking forward to seeing what else you came up with.

1 Like

David, another fine image from your trip. It’s nice to see you shooting from some of the non-iconic locations too. Point your camera where the the best light is, and you usually can’t go wrong. I am partial to shooting from the top of Otter Cliff myself, away from the usual madness below at Boulder Beach.

@Igor_Doncov and @Ed_Lowe have already touched on my thoughts about your image, and I like what Ed did with his rework. I might even also crop a little bit from the left. It looks like there is a rock or lobster buoy on the left edge, and a small crop would zap it away.

No, in fact I think you could even show a slight bit more. The HDR look happens when you lift the deepest darks along with midtone darks. I like to try using TK Subtracted masks (D2 - D5) to lift shadow areas, this retains contrast in the darkest tones, and looks more natural.

For something like this blending bracketed exposure can work better than a single exposure (especially if you are on the verge of clipping like here). I do not find the brightest highlights distracting, but I probably would have tried to blend this scene to get more control over the area near the sun.

With all those comments, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that you captured a dramatic moment in gorgeous light, that’s what matters most.

@Ed_Lowe I was shocked, I thought I was going to be fighting tourists or other photographers for spots. Not once did I feel like I had to compromise what I was doing because of other people being around. I fully did not anticipate that!

Thanks, @Ed_McGuirk. That is actually a tiny little bit of tree. I noticed it but never zoomed in on it to see what it was. I wasn’t sure if it was part of a wave, clearly it is not!

That is good to know regarding the masks, I use that method a lot but this explanation of what really pushes something over that HDR line is useful. I have a darker file. It is still pushed to the max right where the sun is obviously but there is more detail around it, particularly to the left. The problem I’m having is that it just doesn’t look right when I put it in , there are some strange lines that appear and the tones just don’t match with the cloud above. If I could find a way to improve it, I would be down to start again and add that file in, just not sure I have the skill/knowledge right now.

@Ed_McGuirk Here is a rework with some of those suggestions. It took me some time, I think it is better, probably not professional quality though.

1 Like

I do like your rework. The brightest part of the sky looks much better, and I like how the small bit of extra luminosity on the rocks adds a slight glow. Your dodging of the rocks still looks realistic to me, because you dodged the parts that were already receiving some light, and you kept the darker darks pretty dark. I think the trick with blending in things like the bright yellow sky is using luminosity masks, and find one that has a good transition (avoiding lines, halos etc.) It looks like you were able to do that here. It also looks like you dodged the lights in the water, and that adds a nice small touch as well. Good job on the rework.