In this post, I am going to describe my post processing to create this image
The two starting images. I chose two exposures of the scene. One of them was reasonably exposed for the path and water (highlights did blow out a bit on the poles). The second image was a much longer 3 min exposure for the sky (click on thumbnails for closeup of screen shots).
Colour balancing these in RAW was interesting. I knew that the camera wouldn’t get this right because there are some pretty funky sodium lights illuminating the pool. When combined with the pre-dawn blue hour, it was always going to be tricky. This is what I love about shooting RAW, I can sort out white balance later and not worry about camera settings.
Here’s how it looked when I corrected the colour (pretty different eh?)
Once I got it into Photoshop, I applied pre-sharpening (courtesy of Nik Sharpener Pro 2.0) I then cropped and extended canvas to create black background for panoramic format.
Next I did a colour balance to get the water colour to be a bit more blue/green in colour. I wasn’t worried about the sky because I was going to replace it with the long exposure sky anyway. I was sampling colours from the white posts to ensure colour neutrality in the shade of the white posts. Here’s what it looked like as I colour balanced.
Once I colour balanced it, I then did a simple levels adjustment. To bring in the sky from my other exposure I just laid it on top and used my tablet to create a pretty quick and simple mask. Here’s what the composite image was looking like.
Next I ran my image through Alien Skin Exposure (I love this program, it emulates the look of film, if you haven’t tried it, there is a free 30 day eval.)… I chose Fuji Provia 100 as my desired film look. You can see the original on the left part of the screen, and then the preview of the film effect on the right. With the provia setting it is pretty subtle, but it does give the image some pop….. If you choose something like Fuji Velvia then it is much more dramatic.
Final step was to do a bit of dodge and burn and then darken corners using curves, then resize, convert to sRGB, output sharpen via Nik Sharpener.