Inspiration is everywhere. You have to keep your eyes open and look for it, and today, I want to share a “making of” that actually started 3 weeks ago when a good friend of mine posted an image on Facebook that got me intrigued.
Here is the image as he posted it on Facebook
It doesn’t look much as it was taken with an iPhone 4, but I could see the potential and started imagining what I can do with my camera. I didn’t even know this place existed in Israel, and that’s a little sad since I’ve been living here for 34 years 😉
But late is almost always better than never.
Fast forward 3 weeks, and I was at the same spot with my camera, which is considered slightly better than the camera on the iPhone 4. Looking at the image my friend took, you can’t really understand what’s going to be in there and how you’re going to take the shot, but I planned on using my tripod and figured it wouldn’t be a problem.
Taking the Shot
It turned out it isn’t really possible to take a picture in that cave using a tripod, but luckily, I bought a really cool clamp a couple of months ago, and this was the first time I got to use it worked like a charm. So here is an image of me taking the photos while the camera is safely secured to the railing thanks to the clamp.
Securing it to the railing allowed me to shoot with ISO 100 and expose it for as many seconds as I needed, which in the final photo was 0.4 seconds.
I took a series of shots in different exposures to cover all bases and be sure I’ll have enough to work with, as one option was to merge a few exposures into one image.
Due to the high dynamic range of the situation, when I exposed the sky, the foreground inside the cave was very dark, and when I exposed it for the foreground, the cave’s opening was burned out. You can see it very clearly in these RAW images:
I don’t really use the merge to HDR feature introduced in Lightroom 6 very much as I prefer to do it manually in Photoshop, but I took 3 exposures and asked Lightroom to merge them for me, which is the result…
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t say I like this result at all…
Picking the Winner
As I mentioned before, I took plenty of shots, and now I needed to pick the one or two I’m going to be working with. I picked the one with the best-looking water inside the cave as they were pouring from the sides into the middle and looking like silk, thanks to the long exposure.
This is the image I selected as it came out of the camera…
Here are the steps I took inside Lightroom:
- Lens Correction – Enable profile corrections and remove chromatic abberation.
- White Balance – Changed it to Auto as it looked better to me and made the image warmer.
- Exposure – I dropped the exposure to -1.65 to reduce the glow and the burn surrounding the cave entrance.
- Highlights – dropped to -12.
- Shadows – Increased to +40.
- Whites – Increased to +16.
- Detail – I dropped it to 0 from the default of 25. I knew i’m getting the image into photoshop so I was going to handle the sharpness in Photoshop.
This is the result so far…
Next, I opened the image in Photoshop by right-clicking on the image/edit in / edit in adobe photoshop CC 2015.
I moved to Photoshop to handle the light on the right side of the image and remove it along with the people and railing that is there.
You can see them more clearly in the HDR above.
Lightroom spot removal is good for removing spots, but it is constrained when doing anything else, and it doesn’t come close to the clone stamping and spot healing tools in Photoshop.
Using the clone stamp and spot healing brush, I removed everything from the right side of the image that was bothering me, and I also added sharpening by duplicating the layer and going to Filter / Other / High Pass.
I chose a radio of 5.0 Pixels, clicked OK, and then changed the layer’s blending mode to Overlay.
And this is before Photoshop and after Photoshop… (move the slider left for After Photoshop)
You can notice the sharpening and the removal of the light on the right side.
In Lightroom, I used a brush to brighten the water and the foreground in certain places.
And that was it.
Here is the final result.
I actually ended up with 2 final images:
I posted both of them on a Facebook group to see which one people liked best, and the results were pretty much 50-50.
So I really didn’t have any choice left, and I had to go for a merged photo just as I initially planned when I was on location taking the photos.
I was afraid it would be too hard since I’m not really a photoshop master, and I’m not all that familiar with using luminosity masks and such BUT thank an awesome photoshop panel called RAYA PRO, 90% of the merging process was done with a single click 🙂
I must admit it was much easier than I thought it would be 🙂
And here is the final result…
Over to you…
Would you please let me know what you think if you have any questions or suggestions? I would love to know about them, so don’t be a stranger and drop your comment below 😉