Lavender – Valensole, France – Limited Edition Platinum 25 Series

NEWS
GERMAN VERSION OF TK ACTIONS PANEL NOW AVAILABLE.

DEUTSCHE VERSION DES TK AKTIONEN BEDIENFELDES AB JETZT VERFÜGBAR.

(Weiter unten für Deutsch)
Besides this new print release, I have another important announcement to make. Many of you know, that I have been an avid user and fan of Luminosity Masking Techniques and the TKActions Panel for Photoshop. Tony Kuyper (www.goodlight.us) and I have been working over the last few months on a translation of the Luminosity Masks Panel and certain tutorials into German. As of last night, these TK Actions Panel is available for download from my website. Andre Distel Photography is the exclusive distributor of the German version of the panel. More information on the panel can be found here in both German and English: http://www.andredistel.com/tk-actions-panel-english/

Deutsch:
Neben der neuen Druck Veröffentlichung gibt es noch eine weitere wichtige Mitteilung zu machen. Wie viele bereits wissen bin ich seit längerem ein großer Verfechter und Fan von Luminosity Masken Techniken in Photoshop. Tony Kuyper und ich haben über die letzten Wochen und Monate an einer deutschen Übersetzung der TK Actions, des TK Action Panels (TK Aktionen Bedienfeld) und einigen Tutorials gearbeitet und diese gestern veröffentlicht. Der Vertrieb des Photoshop Bedienfeldes erfolgt exklusiv über meine und Tony’s Webseite. Mehr Informationen zu dem Bedienfeld und dessen Funktionsweise könnt ihr hier auf Deutsch und Englisch finden: http://www.andredistel.com/tk-actions-panel-english/

THE SHOT
The lavender fields in the provence have been on my bucket list for a while now. This summer, we finally decided to go and see what the fuzz is all about for ourselves. I can say, that whatever you see in this or all the other shots is real and it’s really cool. To avoid the crowds (there are LOTS of tourists) get up early and drive out to the fields in Valensole. This is where this shot was taken. I saw one other photographer on that same morning and +Elia Locardi was just two fields over to shoot a very similar scene. Make sure you visit this year around mid-July, just before the lavender is harvested.

TECHNIQUE
To get a shot like this in conditions like this is for once pure luck, but also some post-processing work. I took five exposures and ended up using four of them for the final image. I manually blended very carefully the lights and darks in to re-create the original scene. Luminosity Painting was my weapon of choice here, since my Nikon D800 can’t reflect the entire dynamic range I wanted for this image. There are FREE TUTORIALS on my website in German and English on how I use the TK Actions in my post-processing workflow.
http://www.andredistel.com/luminosity-masks-tutorials/

Gear
Nikon D800
Nikon 16-35mm f/4 @f/16
ISO100
Exposure: various
+Induro AT114
Photoshop CC 2014 for curves adjustments via luminosity masks.
Hosted by +PhotoShelter

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
www.andredistel.com

Pacific Dream – Hawaii – Limited Edition Gold 100

Pacific Dream – Limited Edition Gold 100 Series

FREE Luminosity Masks Tutorial – Read below for more information

The Shot & Technique
Shot on the beautiful north shore of Oahu, the home of the very talented +Dallas Nagata White. The conditions were good with the last remaining sunlight also hitting the shoreline. I was very fortunate to be able to shoot at this breathtaking location in Oahu. With only 2 days to spare on this island, we scouted for the best possible locations. The time of day is not what photographers refer to as the Golden Hour of photography, but who cares :). The photo turned out pretty well with a challenging processing technique. I hand-blended four different exposures with custom masks to reflect the true scene and what the camera could not do.

Buy a Limited Edition Print: http://goo.gl/wv6LUd
Workflow Tutorial Luminosity Masks: http://goo.gl/61TLXW
Exposure Blending with Luminosity Masks Tutorial: http://goo.gl/KFHZKl

Technique:
Nikon D800
Nikon 16-35mm f/4 at 26mm and f/16
Exposures: 1/4sec, 1/8 sec, 1/15sec, 1/30sec
+Induro AT-114
Photoshop CS6 for blending of multiple exposures and curves adjustment layers.
Hosted by +PhotoShelter

News
I haven’t posted much on G+ lately and apologize with all my followers. Lots of travelling and other important project were and are still underway from earlier this year.

Featured Photographers
As part of my routine to promote other photographers as well, I invite you to check out the following amazing portfolios: +Jarrod Castaing (thanks for showing me your awesome Gallery in Sydney!) +Brad Goldpaint (fantastic night sky photos)

Others
If you haven’t done so yet head over to my new Facebook Page and say hi at www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography.

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
www.andredistel.com

Drachenburg – Modern Fairy Tales – Königswinter – Limited Edition Local 13 Series

Modern Fairy Tales – Drachenburg, Königswinter, Germany – Limited Edition Local 13 Series

As you may have noticed, I have been a bit busy the last few days and had no time to work on any new photos. So I took some time tonight and finally got around to finalize a photo, which I have been working on for quite a while.

We were waiting out there for about an hour for the perfect light to come up near the Drachenburg in Königswinter. With no shots taken, I almost called it a day, when just before the sun set, the last soft glow hit the trees and castle. It latest for about 2 minutes and I was glad, I had everything set up already. I fired a few brackets away and come back home with what I knew already would be some great shots to process later.

It is a “remake” of one of my all-time favorites on Flickr and my Website <a href=”http://goo.gl/73oejH” rel=”nofollow”>goo.gl/73oejH</a>. I struggled with a few things, but once I got into 2:1 panoramic mode, it just clicked and I new, this would work great for this shot.

I think it’s a great second addition to my previous shot. Same place, but very different perspective.

Modern Fairy Tales is as of today part of Limited Edition Local 13 Series, meaning I will make only 13 prints – ever. All numbered and signed.

Hope you enjoy the view as much as I do .

Buy a Limited Edition Print: http://goo.gl/wv6LUd
Workflow Tutorial Luminosity Masks: http://goo.gl/61TLXW
Exposure Blending with Luminosity Masks Tutorial: http://goo.gl/KFHZKl

Technique
Nikon D800
+Sigma CorpofAmerica 50mm f/1.4 @f/11
Exposures: various
+Induro  AT-114
Photoshop CS6 for blending of multiple exposures and curves adjustment layers.
Hosted by +PhotoShelter
Luminosity Masks Techniques and Actions by +Tony Kuyper and +Sean Bagshaw

Others
If you haven’t done so yet head over to my new Facebook Page and say hi at www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography.

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
www.andredistel.com

Dubai – City Veins – Limited Edition Prints – Luminosity Mask

Dubai – City Veins – Limited Edition Prints - Luminosity Mask

The Shot & Technique
Captured in Dubai from the 42nd floor. A black and white interpretation of the cold city and its pulsing veins. Down below is Sheikh Zayed Road one the most important roads in all of Middle East. It runs through all emirates down to the border of Oman.

The photo is a single shot exposure and processed in PS6 with luminosity mask techniques. I wrote a lengthy and detailed tutorial about how I process my photos, which is available on my website here: http://goo.gl/JOZgE8. On my website (www.andredistel.com) you will also find another tutorial about manually blending different exposures for one final image. All free for you to use!

Nikon D800
Nikon 16-35mm
+Induro AT-114
Hosted on +PhotoShelter

News
I haven’t posted much on G+ lately and apologize with all my followers. Lots of travelling and other important project were and are still underway from earlier this year. Additionally, ever since to a bilingual website, the G+ post import function from +Daniel Treadwell seemed to stop working, which is unfortunate.

Featured Photographers
As part of my routine to promote other photographers as well, I invite you to check out the following amazing portfolios: +Vangelis Feleris (great astronomy photography) +Ian Plant (his Dreamscapes are mind-blowing) +Michael Ryan (Cal seascape photographer)

Others
If you haven’t done so yet head over to my new Facebook Page and say hi at www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography.

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
www.andredistel.com

Exposure Blending using Luminosity Masks

Exposure Blending using Luminosity Masks

 

1) Foreword and preparations

As promised a few months ago in my blog post about Luminosity Masking Techniques, here comes another tutorial on how to blend multiple images. This tutorial builds upon the knowledge from my previous tutorial and requires some knowledge about how to create (custom) masks, working with layers and other basic techniques within Photoshop CS6. Now, some people refer to the technique with blending via luminosity masks as “HDR”, others as “manual blending” or “extending the dynamic range”. All of these would the suitable and you will see me using probably all three of them in this tutorial.

I only use this technique on some occassions. It is extremly time consuming and needs to be done perfectly in every step of way. Going back is not always as easy as with processing of a single RAW file. The reason for blending basically lies in the fact that today’s cameras are not able to reflect the entire dynamic range the eye can see. You have probably experienced this while photographing a beautiful sunset. The sky has great orange colors but the foreground is completely dark. This could potentially create a beautiful silhouette but might not be the intended result. Alternatively, you could just work with one single exposure and remove the shadowy areas and increase contrast with a few sliders. It will probably do a fine job and in small size the difference might not be as noticeable. However, any change to image will result in the loss of quality. By blending original exposures, the quality of the final print remains on the highest possible level with no sacrifices to image quality.

With this technique, I hope that I will be able to teach you on how to extend the natural dynamic range of your camera. As described in my previous tutorial, it does not matter what camera you use. A bracketing function certainly comes in handy but you can also do without. Most important, as always in landscape photography is light and composition.

 

2) Preperations in Lightroom

My starting point is once again Lightroom. Currently I use Lightroom 4 and the same principle should apply to at least the newer version LR5. Let’s say you have your 3 bracketed exposures and every single one reflects on perfect part of the image. Highlight all three of them in Lightroom, then Right Click and Open as Layers in Photoshop. In this example I have taken a 5 bracketed exposure but have decided that 3 exposures will do to get the result I want to. I rarely use more than 4 bracketed images to achieve the final result.

 

3) Align and sort your images

Once the images have opened up in Photoshop, the first thing you want to make sure is, that the images are prefectly aligned. Although I use tripods in 90% of my shots, there can always be a slight shift. Wind, sand, water, etc can have an impact on the photo. Highlight all layers you want to blend, then click “Edit” and “Auto-Align Layers…”. I find that Photoshop usually does a pretty good job in “Auto” mode. So, I recommend trying “Auto” first and going back and trying something else in case that won’t work. Note, that this is a crucial step and absolutely necessary before proceeding with anything else. Your blending might end up with overlapping parts and this can’t be easily reversed – at least not to my knowledge. I had to start all over again a few times, simply because I forgot to align my images in the first place. Particularly annoying if you worked on an image for a couple of hours only to find out that you have to do it all over again.

 

Auto-align layers

Auto-align layers

 

Now that all photos are nicely aligned, I usually order them to make the blend easier. Depending on the image, I start with darkest or brightest image on top. In this case, I put the darkest image on top, simply because I found it easier to blend in the lighter tones later.

 

Sort layers from dark the darkest images to the brightest image

Sort layers from dark the darkest images to the brightest image

 

4) Create your custom masks

Now comes the tricky part. Blending the actual images. The darkest image is my starting point and I intend to firstly blend the “regular” exposure (what my camera told my was the “correct” exposure). Instead of creating a pre-definded masks I want to pick and choose myself, which parts I want to blend and which I don’t want to blend. There are some moving parts in here such as the palm leaves, which make it even more difficult. I start by creating a white mask next to the darkest images. Then I create all Lights Masks and all Darks Masks from the TK Actions panel (Click here to visit Tony Kuyper Photography.). Since this is a pretty dark scene and I intend to blend the lighter parts, I choose the Super Darks masks and invert the selection to get the lighter parts of the image selected. With the selection highlighted I start to carefully brush in the changes as desired.

 

Process of brushing in a custom luminosity mask

Process of brushing in a custom luminosity mask

 

The following image shows the blending process with the first two images. Already pretty good results but a bit too dark and not enough contrast.

 

Blend with two images

Blend with two images

 

To get a balanced image the way the eye saw it I have to blend one more image. The last image will mainly effect the sand, boat and bushes on the left hand side. The sky and water looks pretty good already and just need some light tweaking later on.

I do so by creating another masks. Now, the original “light image”, was bit too bright for my liking, so I will be creating an off-center midtone mask and carefully brush in the changes, as I desire.

 

Blending the last exposure with a custom mask

Blending the last exposure with a custom mask

 

Again, by darkening the areas in the foreground the layer underneath will come through. If you look closely, you will see that not the entire foreground is black. I brushed in with less strength in the brighter areas to increase contrast. At this level we have successfully blended three different exposures. However, it still lacks some contrast and “pop”. In the following steps, I will continue to process the photo using various techniques from Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masking techniques.

 

Final blend of three exposures

Final blend of three exposures

 

5) Further Processing

My first thought here is to increase contrast. Many of my images live of strong contrast paired with something special to make them “pop”. To increase contrast I use my favorite luminosity masks technique – off-center mid-tone masks. To create the custom masks, I start by clicking CMD+Lights masks. This will highlight 50% of the lightest areas in the image. Then I subtract the Bright Lights by clicking CMD+ALT (you will see a “-“ appear with the cursor) and create a new masks by creating an adjustment layer. In this case, I created a Curves adjustment layer and increased the blacks and whites on both ends.

 

Increasing contrast with a level adjustment layer

Increasing contrast with a level adjustment layer

 

In the next step, I do basically the same with the darks masks. I create another off-center mid-tone masks and increase the darks, which actually result in less contrast, but I will deal with this later. For now, the image is still a bit too dark.

 

Highlighting the brightest parts of an off-center mid-tone mask

Highlighting the brightest parts of an off-center mid-tone mask

 

After brightening some of the darker areas of the image, I want to start to give it some “pop” by creating a “Smart Glow” using the TK Actions. Smart Glow works very well with orange and red colors. Sometimes, this effect can be very strong and needs to be toned back a bit. Therefore I simply reduce the opacity of the layer to 85% and also paint with black over the entire bottom part of the image in the Smart Filters masks, since I only want the effect on the sky, nowhere else.

The following two layers are a curves and a levels adjustment layer. The levels adjustment layer is again an off-center mid-tone mask. However, this time, it is a very wide mask, meaning I have included almost all parts of the image except the very brightest and the very darkest areas. Increasing darks and whites again helps to increase contrast.

 

Final image after all adjustments

Final image after all adjustments

 

The curves adjustment layer on top of the levels adjustment layer only effects the lighter areas of the beach and the boat, helping to further lighten and increase contrast in these areas as well.

By now the image looks pretty good to me and only the very last step of image sharpening is required before it goes into print. To make life easier I simply choose to work with the TK Actions Cloud Sharpening. Since the sharpening itself is a bit too strong for my liking, I again simply adapt it to my needs by reducing the opacity to 60%. Et voila – the image is ready for print.

 

6) Publishing for optimized web viewing

This is a crucial step for me, as most people will get in contact with my work through the web first. Again the TK Actions web sharpening actions do a pretty good job. Simply resizing the image will result in less overall sharpness and the image will look different than on your screen or when printed, thus I can only highly recommend to use Tony’s web sharpening actions – huge difference.

I hope this tutorial was helpful to you in understanding how I process my photos. Not all of them are processed in such an intense manner as this particular one, but some situations simply require the right tools, time and effort to reflect the true scene. If you are interested in using Tony’s Action Panel for Photoshop please use the following affiliate link to buy the Panel. Thanks. (Click here to visit Tony Kuyper Photography.)

The image “Anini Beach” is available as Limited Edition Gold 100 Series Print or for licensing directly from my website

Cheers,
André

Reaching for the Stars – Limited Edition Print – Singapore

Reaching for the Stars – Limited Edition Print – Singapore

Feel free to share, comment or +1 :)

Thanks to +Jarrod Castaing for welcoming me in your Gallery in Sydney. If you have the chance, go and check it out. Some amazing prints there.

The Shot
As I am sitting in Singapore at the moment it only seems fitting to release a new limited edition print. I worked on this image during an 8 hour flight from Sydney, Australia.

The laser show at the Marina Bay Sands lasts pretty much 12 minutes. Timing is everything and the exposure cannot be too long as the beams constantly move around. Having seen the show a few times, the end is the most important part, as the beams all come back on again at the same time. It is an extremely tricky shot, but everything worked in my favor that night.

A Slice of Time – Moselschleife, Germany

A Slice of Time – Moselschleife, Germany

Feel free to share, comment or +1 :)

News
I have been away for a while from G+ due to time constrains at work and focusing more on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography. I have also printed a lot more images in the last few weeks through +theprintspace for an upcoming exhibition.

The Shot
This is actually in older shot, taken about 12 months ago or only about an hours drive from our house. It took me a few attempts to get it right. No cars making turns or stopping while driving around and at the same time not over- oder underexposing the entire scene. The light trail in the centre was a funny coincidence. The official road ends where the light trail stops, so whoever drove there had to turn around. Add some extra spice to the scene. The Moselschleife is a part not to be missed when you are in the area.

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
www.andredistel.com

Luminosity Masks Workflow Tutorial in Landscape Photography and Extending Dynamic Range

Luminosity Masks Workflow Tutorial for Landscape Photography

A while ago I wrote a tutorial about my Lightroom 4 Landscape Workflow. While this still applies to a good part of my images, and especially those who are sold as stock photos on my website, using luminosity masks has been a game changer for me in many aspects. I am now not limited to the approach and editing capabilities of Lightroom and my basic photoshop masking techniques, which were cumbersome and very time consuming, but can use the full power of Photoshop in a new and fully non-destructive workflow. Now, some people refer to the technique with blending via luminosity masks as “HDR”, others to “manual blending” or “extending the dynamic range”. All of these would the suitable and you will see me using probably all three of them in this tutorial. However, the blending part again only applies to some of my images. For others a single raw file and luminosity masks is all you need. In this first part of the tutorial I will focus on how I use luminosity masks on a single raw file to extend the dynamic range in a non-destructive way. In addition to this first tutorial and one single exposure, I am planning on releasing also the more complex blending of images via luminosity masks. There are many different ways, which lead to the same result, so I encourage you to experiment and use the one you, which works best for you.

I find that luminosity masks give you the greatest creative power over your images and will help you in defining and developing your own unique style. Luminosity masks are more complex, require time and effort to edit and to learn. Luminosity masks have become an important tool for me to get the best possible quality out of my images. Same as the image, they are part of my creative approach to reflect the true scene in a sense that today’s DSLR cameras cannot reflect yet. Even my latest Nikon D800 with the highest dynamic range of 14-15 stops of light of today’s cameras cannot reflect the human eye, which has about 24 stops of light. Thus our images never reflect the true scene, no matter how good of a camera or lens we are using. With this tutorial I will try to help you to increase the dynamic range of your images. Here is what you need:

Camera + Lens

No matter which one you have. The best would be a DSLR which has a bracket function (BRKT), if you intend to blend multiple images, like we will do in a later tutorial. Professional Nikon cameras, such as the D800 can bracket up to 9 exposures. Consumer models might only be able to do 3 brackets. Even if you camera does not support bracketing at all, you can still take multiple exposures. Any other than that, most important is the capability to take RAW images. RAW files are meant to be processed, hence the name “raw”. No one likes a raw steak either. For me it has to be done medium-raw to medium-well, depending on the situation and meat. You also certainly don’t want to overcook your meat. Same goes for processing. Beginners tend to overcook and use all the tools they can find to process a certain image. It might look good to you at that moment, but I can almost promise you, that when you look back in a year from now, you won’t like it anymore. It happened to me many times and I have learned to be careful and use my tools wisely. As little as possible, but as much as needed to reflect what I want to show. I have successfully worked with images from Nikon D60, D7000 and now D800 files.

Tripod

A sturdy tripod is essential for landscape photography, especially for those that are intended to be blended manually afterwards. 80% – 90% of my images are taken with a tripod. I currently use an Induro AT-114, but any tripod will do. If you in the process of buying one, I can recommend Induro, Gitzo, Really Right Stuff (RRS) and Manfrotto. There are many other good ones out there. Take something that suits you and your camera, without breaking the bank. Having said that, a tripod is probably the one item you should not cheapen out on. Nothing worse than getting home and see only blurry photos, because the tripod moved slightly in that heavy wind you endured for getting that one shot.

Remote Release

Not essential but very helpful. With a remote release (Wireless or wired. I prefer wired after I dropped my wireless in a lake on an early morning shoot) you don’t have to touch your camera during the process of taking multiple exposures. If you don’t have one, use your timer mode and set it as low as possible. Also, if you want to take it really far and impress all the other camera geeks around you, also use the “Mirror-up” mode ;). Honelsty, I have never noticed a real difference…

Photoshop

I think anything from CS5 and up (CS6, Adobe CC) will work. Maybe even older versions, but I cannot guarantee for that.

Tony Kuyper’s Actions

You can create the actions yourself by following Tony’s instructions here. I took the easy way out and bought the full package. If you are making a living of photography, I can’t think of a better ROI. You can buy the package of your choice here and read up on it on Tony’s website or watch Sean Bagshaws videos.

I use Adobe Lightroom as my base and main catalog, so this is where I will start. Import your photos and use the lens correction tool first to remove chromatic aberrations and any distortion. I personally find it easier to do it in Lightroom than in Photoshop. After this is done make a right click in Lightroom “Edit in…/Open in Photoshop”. Depending on your computer and file size this might take a moment and you will realize that the file size has almost tripled. The import process in Photoshop creates a new TIFF file of the RAW image (depending on your settings in Lightroom it may also create PSD files). Now before jumping into “editing mode”, consider what you want to achieve. What is your goal with the image? What is your style or what do you want to be your photographic style? In my case, I am usually intending to re-create the original scene, add some drama, increase contrast and correct color where necessary. I try to stick as close to the original scene as possible, simply because I have no interest in creating something that did not exist. Re-creating a scene also includes to reflect the feelings, sense and emotional connection to let the viewer take part in it. Translating all this in Photoshop language, the actions I use most frequently are lights masks, darks masks and mid-tones masks in combination with levels adjustment layers, curves adjustment layers, hue/saturation adjustment layer and color balance adjustment layer as well as different layer blending modes (normal, multiply, lighten, screen, hard light, soft light).

 

Processing example using one single RAW image file and Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity Masks Actions

Step 1) Creating lights masks and darks masks

Now is the part where the creative editing process starts. There is no right or wrong from this point on. In this example, I’ll demonstrate how I processed my image “Remember Me“. The first step in my process, after opening the image in Photoshop is to create all the lights masks and all the dark masks as you can see in the Channels Panel on the right hand side. To do this I simply use the TK-Actions Panel, so I don’t have to re-create the masks every time I process a photo. The lights masks and darks masks are selections of the lighter respectively the darker tones in the image. This allows me during the editing process to target very specific parts of the image, while leaving others untouched.

step1-layer

RAW file with luminosity masks in the channels panel

 

Step 2) Creating magic mid-tone masks and curves adjustment layer

The first thing I did here is something more complex and would require a basic understanding of luminosity masks but something that I found to be really helpful. This is a so called off-center mid-tone masks. Let me explain what I did here. When you click on the lights, light lights or any other lights masks Photoshop shows you a selection of the lightest tones in the image. When you click on the “Lights” masks, Photoshop shows you the 50% brightest pixels, “Lights Lights” reflects the 25% brightest pixels, “Bright Lights” the 12.5% brightest pixels, “Super Lights” the 6.25% brightest pixels and “Ultra Lights” the 3.125% brightest pixels in the image. By selecting one of these lights masks (CMD/CTRL + click on the lights masks), Photoshop will mark the selection for you and you’ll see the marching ants. The same goes for the darks masks and its selections, but of course for the darker pixels in the image. It is exactly the opposite of the “Lights” selections. Now coming back to my off-center mid-tone masks in this example, I made a selection of the “Light Lights” (25% brightest pixels) and subtracted the “Super Lights”. This can be done by selecting the Lights Lights (CMD / CTRL) and then clicking on the Super Lights with CMD+ALT.

step2-curves-alt

Off-center mid-tone mask from light selection

 

Now I have a very narrow selection which only affects a small part of the image, which I can use to increase contrast with the help of a Curves adjustment layer by creating a S-Curve (lighten the lights and darken the darks). If you compare this one with the original RAW file, you’ll notice slight adjustments to the lighter parts of the image, without affecting the brightest parts or any of the darker parts. Lighten through a lights maks increases contrast, as well as darken through a darks mask.

step2-curves-new

S-Curve Adjustment Layer from off-center mid-tone mask

 

Step 3) Increasing contrast with darks mask

Having increased contrast using a off-center mid-tone lights mask, I also want to increase contrast with a darks masks. The RAW file still appears to be pretty flat and needs some further adjustments to pronounce darker and lighter areas better. To find the best suitable darks mask, I start by clicking on the darks mask in the channels panel and work my way through. With a little bit of experience you’ll notice pretty quick, which one will do the job. In this case, I have settled for the “Shadow Darks”, which gives me a nice narrow selection of the 12.5% darkest pixels in the image. Again, I create a curves adjustment layer and use a slight S-Curve to darken parts of the image. By doing so, I can effectively increase contrast by darkening through a darks mask and only affect the darker areas of the image. The screenshot below shows the very narrow selection of the “Shadow Darks”. These areas are highlighted by the marching ants.

step5-curves2-marching-ants-alt

Shadow Darks Adjustment Layer

 

The tonal separation between lighter and darker tones increases, which means, I have increased contrast, without touching any pixels or effecting the quality of the original photograph. In fact, through the pronunciation of shadows and lights, the image has suddenly increased in its dynamic range and depth. This looks like a good start, but we are not done yet. Noticed how the file size keeps creeping up? We are already at 974MB with just two layers and the original RAW file.

step4-curves-norm-visible

Levels Adjustment Layer after adjustment with Shadow Darks

Step 4) Adjustment layer for lighter tone separation

My next step is to work on the white foamy part of the water. There is already a nice separation between the darker beach area and the water, but it could be more pronounced especially the white foam against the water itself. Now the foam is a lighter part of the image, which leads me to choose one of my lights masks if I want to increase the brightness. The “Bright Lights” mask seems to nicely separate the foam from the rest of the water, but I also notice, that it selects other parts of the image, such as the bright parts of the shelter on the pier, where I don’t want to increase brightness. This time, I decide to create a “Brights Mask” with a levels adjustment layer and afterwards paint with a black brush over the areas, I don’t want to affect. In this case, I simply paint carefully over the areas on the shelter. You can see in the screenshot below, that the shelter is almost completely black and only the white foamy areas of the water remain white – meaning only these will be affected by my levels adjustment layer.

step6-levels1-marching-ants-alt

Levels Adjustment Layer for lighter tone separation

 

It is a small adjustment and barely noticeable in the screenshot, but it’s one of those things that will make a difference when you see the image printed large. Compare the image again to the one in Step 3 and the increase in contrast and separation of darker and lighter tonal values.

step7-levels1-on

Levels Adjustment Layer of the Adjustment

 

Step 5) Make it glow

One of those things, that can give your image a nice punch in color is the “Smart Glow” Action by Tony Kuyper. I have found that it works especially well with red color values but can also work well with any other image. In most cases, the increase in saturation is too strong for my liking and I use a lower opacity for the layer. Anywhere from 25% – 75%, avoiding the extreme at higher end. As this image, does not have a lot of color and came out pretty flat as a RAW file, I feel comfortable leaving the opacity slider in this case at 100%. The early morning light at this scene with the sun still low on the horizon gave a really nice saturated green on the hills in the background. What the camera could not capture in RAW format, I can change again here to reflect the original scene and give some of that warm early summer morning feeling from one of Kauai’s best locations. The technical aspect behind the “Smart Glow” option is a combination of increasing contrast in the mid-tone, a slight boost in saturation in combination with Gaussian Blur.

step8-smart-glow-on

Smart Glow Adjustment Layer

 

Step 6) Focused use of color adjustment

The “Smart Glow” did a great job of further enhancing the dynamic range of my image. However, I am still not quite happy as I remember the scene to show even more of that lush green color, Kauai is so famous for. One way to achieve this result would be to simply create a new layer and paint with a brush over the areas, I would like to show more vibrant color. Instead of doing so, I refer back to Tony’s Actions and use a very focused mask, that really only targets the areas, I’d like to increase color values. The Actions allow me to create saturation or vibrance masks or both of them. I choose the vibrance mask, as I feel, this will be more helpful as it only targets the already more saturated areas in the image. I don’t want to saturate, where there was no color in the original scene. While creating the mask with the Actions from Tony, I have the choice between a “Regular Vibrance Mask” or a “Focused Vibrance Mask”. I opt for the focused mask, which seems to be the best fit for the job. The screenshot below shows you the marching ants and that they only mark the most saturated colors, especially on the green hill in the background.

step10-focused-vibrance-masks-marching-ants-alt

Focused Vibrance Mask Selection

 

I want to increase vibrancy of the greens slightly. To do so, I revert back to my color image by clicking Alt+Layer. In the properties panel of the focused vibrance mask, I usually work with the finger tool to modify specific color areas of the image by moving the cursor of the green part of the image, click and drag, which will then move the slider either left or right.

step9-focus-saturation-slider

Custom Color Value Adjustment

 

The difference is once again not significant but it is there and at this point, I am confident that I have achieved a realistic result of the original scene. And not only the scene in itself but also the warmth of an early summer morning, the dramatic clouds hovering over the beautiful lush green mountains in the background. Now, who doesn’t want to stand right there  and right now? Have you noticed the file size? We are at 1.36GB with all layers.

step11-focused-vibrance-masks-on

Focused Vibrance Mask after the adjustment

 

Step 7) Sharpening the final image

One last step is necessary, before we release this image and hand it over to the printing lab. RAW files are not only pretty flat, when they come out of camera, they are also not the sharpest. If you only shoot JPEG, this step might not be necessary or even as noticeable, but with RAW files it is an important step of the process for me. There are multiple ways to finally sharpen the image. The most common way of sharpening is to sharpen through an “Unsharp Mask”. Yes, you have heard right. An unsharp mask. If you don’t feel comfortable to sharpen through an unsharp mask, you could also use the “Smart Sharpen” option in the filter menu. As I want to demonstrate the TK-Actions and Luminosity Masks Technique, I will go with the “TK-Cloud Sharpen” action. It does, as the name says, a particular good job with clouds, which tend to appear very soft in most images. I want to give them some structure and add to the mood of the strong mountains in the background. Whatever way of sharpening you choose, I highly recommend to create a new layer for sharpening, as you don’t want to alter any of the pixels in the original scene. The only downside is, that your file size keeps on creeping up even further. In this case, we have reached 1.6GB.

Back to the cloud sharpen action. The action has done a remarkable job with the clouds, mountains, pier and shelter. Again, I could have achieved the same or very similar result with any of the other two (un)sharpening masks. However, the cloud-sharpen action has also done something that I wanted to avoid – it has sharpened the water and honestly, sharpened water doesn’t look very appealing to me. I personally find water best when it’s smooth and silky and has some sense of implied motion. To restrict the sharpening action to the areas I want to, I simply create a new off-center mid-tone magic mask and additionally paint the areas I want to sharpen with a white brush on the mask. If you look closely in the layers panel, you will see that I painted with a white brush over the mask in mountain and sky area, as I did not want to restrict the sharpening only to the mid-tones in this area of the image.

step14-tk-cloud-custom-mask

Cloud Sharpening Action with a Custom Mask

 

Step 8) Export for web use

Depending whether or not you are coming from Lightroom, the saved image, will now also appear automatically in your Lightroom catalog. I have the made the experience, that a well processed image, can be either exported from Lightroom or Photoshop for the print lab. It does not make a difference. If you want to showcase your work on the internet, I recommend you open the image the image again in Photoshop and use the “Web Sharpening” Actions from Tony. They do the image more justice than a simple downsize in Lightroom or Photoshop. Bear in mind though to not print the web-sharpened image for your clients.

I hope you have enjoyed the insight into my creative landscape photography workflow using luminosity mask to extend the dynamic range of my images. It’s been fun to write this up and share it with you. In addition to this tutorial I am also planning on writing another one in the near future about blending images while using luminosity mask techniques.

I’d appreciate if you shared this tutorial on the web through your social network, so more people can make use of it. If you are interested in buying Tony’s Actions, please use the following affiliate link. Thanks. Click here to visit Tony Kuyper Photography.

Thanks,
André

Stepping into another World – Mt. Waialeale – Kauai, HI

Stepping into another World – Mt. Wai’ale’ale (Waialeale) – Kauai, HI

Feel free to share, comment or +1 :)

News
Remember my print sale until December 14th! 25% off all prints. Simply use “xmas25″ as promo code during checkout or contact me directly for ordering offline. I have added also “Galleries by Theme” as additional entry point on my website: http://andredistel.photoshelter.com/gallery-collection/Gallery-by-Theme/C0000PeSdkDyZWUw

The Shot
The island of Kauai is truly from another world. We did quite a few hikes but none was like the Pihea Trail to Alaka’i Swamp. The trail leads through some of the most otherworldly places you could ever imagine and I believe this to be the best trail on Kauai and it also ranks somewhere at the very top of every trail (and we have hiked many) we have ever hiked.

The Alaka’i Swamp trail leads through the highest swamp in the world and also one of the wettest spots on earth – Mt. Wai’ale’ale (Waialeale). This is actually as close as you can get on official trails. The fog constantly rolls in and out leaving you damp wet all the way through. The immense amount of water and moisture up there gives you every imaginable shade of green and radiating colors especially in the local fern. But beware, the fern here is dangerous it only grows at the edge of cliffs. So, don’t even think about to walk in the fern to pee. It might just as well be your last time.

The path we walked on was muddy, really muddy. Especially the first part of the trail. The red dirt just sticks to your cloth and shoes. The more you hike into the swamp, the red dirt path is eventually replaced by boardwalks. In some areas is seems they have not been maintained for a long time as they slippery and broken. It’s especially dangerous when you in the swamp itself. Nothing grows out there that’s more than 5 feet tall.

In regards to the weather, it’s really a gamble. You never know what you gonna get up there. Only one thing is certain – you will leave this trail stunned and will have a hard time finding something similar.

Technique
Nikon D800
Nikon 16-35mm f/4
One exposure shot
Filesize: ca. 2.17GB
+fstopgear Loka (it was soaked but held up fine even without the rain cover!)
Processed in PS6 using Luminosity masking techniques to balance tone, color and contrast to re-create the orginial scene.

I am thinking about creating a German or English Tutorial about how I use luminosity masks and my workflow in general. Would anyone be interested in learning more about that?

Featured Photographers
As part of my routine to promote other photographers as well, I invite you to check out the following amazing portfolios: +Sean Bagshaw  (check out his awesome luminosity mask tutorials!) +Dallas Nagata White (You live in a beautiful part of the world!) +Barry Blanchard (another great landscape portfolio)

Others
If you haven’t done so yet head over to my new Facebook Page and say hi at www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography. I am usually not crazy about numbers but it would be great to reach the 1000 mark before the end of the year!

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
www.andredistel.com

Sydney Moments – Limited Edition Gold 100 Series

The Shot & News
Remember my print sale until December 14th! 25% off all prints. Simply use "xmas25" as promo code during checkout or contact me directly for ordering offline. I have added also "Galleries by Theme" as additional entry point on my website: http://andredistel.photoshelter.com/gallery-collection/Gallery-by-Theme/C0000PeSdkDyZWUw

It was a short walk to capture this shot. The building across on the pier is the hotel I stayed at in Sydney. I actually wanted to get a different shot, one that I saw in the hotel lobby, but later found out to be photoshopped. The angle the images was taken on is impossible to reach, except you are standing right in the water. Anyhow, I like how the evening and colors played out on this one with some dramatic cloud coverage over the harbor area. One more for my growing Sydney Gallery. 

Much of the translation of my website is done and most pages are now available in English and German language. I'll keep adding German to other pages, as I find time to do so. In the meantime, feel free to check my website for any typos or other errors :).

Technique
Nikon D800
Nikon 16-35mm f/4
+Induro AT-114
Vanguard SBH-250 Ballhead
Remote release
Three exposures
Filesize: ca. 1.26GB
+fstopgear Loka
Processed in PS6 using Luminosity masking techniques. I used one exposure for the sky, two for the building to balance highlights and contrast and two for the water.

I am thinking about creating a German or English Tutorial about how I use luminosity masks and my workflow in general. Would anyone be interested in learning more about that?

Featured Photographers
As part of my routine to promote other photographers as well, I invite you to check out the following amazing portfolios: +Dallas Nagata White (If you want to see great images from Hawaii, check out her new website!) +Tobias Ackermann (promoting a fellow German photog) +Keith McInnes (as Sydney resident)

Others
If you haven't done so yet head over to my new Facebook Page and say hi! – <a href="http://www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography" rel="nofollow">www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography</a>. I am usually not crazy about numbers but it would be great to reach the 1000 mark before the end of the year!

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
<a href="http://www.andredistel.com" rel="nofollow">www.andredistel.com</a>

+Stunning Moment  #stunningmoment   #1212scenery  +Stunning Moment  #photoextract   #photoextractplus   by +Jarek Klimek +10000 PHOTOGRAPHERS by +Robert SKREINER  #landscape   #landscapephotography  by +Margaret Tompkins +Carra Riley +paul t beard +Jim Warthman +HQSPPromotion by +Robert SKREINER  +HQSP Landscape by +Delcour Eric +Landscape & Nature Photography ART  +Landscape Photography +European Photo +Photo Mania Germany +Best Top Photographer Group  #nikond800   #nikon1635   #nikon   #sydney   #sydneyharbour   #sydneysaturday   #sunday   #cityscape  

Sydney Moments – Limited Edition Gold 100 Series

*Sydney Moments* – Limited Edition Gold 100 Series

The Shot & News

Remember my print sale until December 14th! 25% off all prints. Simply use “xmas25″ as promo code during checkout or contact me directly for ordering offline. I have added also “Galleries by Theme” as additional entry point on my website: http://andredistel.photoshelter.com/gallery-collection/Gallery-by-Theme/C0000PeSdkDyZWUw

Sydney Moments is part of Andre Distel Limited Edition Gold 100 Print Series. It was a short walk to capture this shot. The building across on the pier is the hotel I stayed at in Sydney. I actually wanted to get a different shot, one that I saw in the hotel lobby, but later found out to be photoshopped. The angle the images was taken on is impossible to reach, except you are standing right in the water. Anyhow, I like how the evening and colors played out on this one with some dramatic cloud coverage over the harbor area. One more for my growing Sydney Gallery.

Much of the translation of my website is done and most pages are now available in English and German language. I’ll keep adding German to other pages, as I find time to do so. In the meantime, feel free to check my website for any typos or other errors :).

 

Technique

Nikon D800
Nikon 16-35mm f/4
+Induro AT-114
Vanguard SBH-250 Ballhead
Remote release
Three exposures
Filesize: ca. 1.26GB
+fstopgear Loka
Processed in PS6 using Luminosity masking techniques. I used one exposure for the sky, two for the building to balance highlights and contrast and two for the water.

I am thinking about creating a German or English Tutorial about how I use luminosity masks and my workflow in general. Would anyone be interested in learning more about that?

 

Featured Photographers

As part of my routine to promote other photographers as well, I invite you to check out the following amazing portfolios: +Dallas Nagata White (If you want to see great images from Hawaii, check out her new website!) +Tobias Ackermann (promoting a fellow German photog) +Keith McInnes (as Sydney resident)

 

Others

If you haven’t done so yet head over to my new Facebook Page and say hi! – <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography” rel=”nofollow”>www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography</a>. I am usually not crazy about numbers but it would be great to reach the 1000 mark before the end of the year!

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
<a href=”http://www.andredistel.com” rel=”nofollow”>www.andredistel.com</a>

Every Moment – Limited Edition Platinum 25 Series

The Shot & News
I returned with a few good shots from Joshua Tree National Park recently, but now wish I could have spent more time there. So much to see and do in an extraordinary landscape environment. This image is the result of four different exposures I took. After the import into Lightroom, I started to process them in Photoshop by aligning all four and then manually blending the image, with advanced custom off-center mid-tone masks and correcting contrast accordingly. A technique I learned by studying +Tony Kuyper and +Sean Bagshaw luminosity masking tutorials. A process, that has stepped up photography to another level. I am contemplating about writing a tutorial in English and German for my blog about using this technique on a few examples. There are not too many, at least in Germany, who teach or provide details about this technique except +Michael Breitung, who I have yet to meet and shoot with :).

Much of the translation of my website is done and most pages are now available in English and German language. I'll keep adding German to other pages, as I find time to do so. In the meantime, feel free to check my website for any typos or other errors :).

I have also added further access to my Galleries, which are now accessible by either Country, Theme or Edition Size, so that every customer can choose, what's most important to him. 

Gear
Nikon D800
Nikon 16-35mm f/4
+Induro AT-114
Vanguard SBH-250 Ballhead
Remote release
Four exposures
Filesize: ca. 2GB
+fstopgear Loka
Processed in PS6 using Luminosity masking techniques.

Featured Photographers
As part of my routine to promote other photographers as well, I invite you to check out the following amazing portfolios: +Justin Lowery  (just found his great portfolio today :)), +GABORIT Sébastien (Paris night photography) and +Denis Neuberth (as a fellow German photgrapher)

Others
If you haven't done so yet head over to my new Facebook Page and say hi! – <a href="http://www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography" rel="nofollow">www.facebook.com/AndreDistelPhotography</a>

If you have any questions, please feel free ask

Cheers,
André
<a href="http://www.andredistel.com" rel="nofollow">www.andredistel.com</a>

+Stunning Moment  +Stunning Moment  #1212scenery   #photoextract  by +Jarek Klimek +10000 PHOTOGRAPHERS by +Robert SKREINER  #landscapephotography  by +Margaret Tompkins +Carra Riley +paul t beard +Jim Warthman  +HQSPPromotion by +Robert SKREINER +HQSP Landscape by +Delcour Eric +Landscape & Nature Photography ART +Landscape Photography  #joshuatree   #joshuatreenationalpark   #joshua   #nikond800   #d800   #nikon1635   #nationalpark   #nationalgeographicphotos   #nationalgeographicphotographer   #friday   #fridayphoto   #fridayphotography   +Photo Mania Germany +Best Top Photographer Group