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Sunday
Sep302012

From RAW to Final: Small Lighthouse on PEI!

Hello everyone,

I've been travelling this past week. Started the trip off in Quebec City, where I met up with a photo workshop for a day and a half. Last time I was in Quebec is a good 10 years ago, so I was excited to visit again and even better, have time for some photography this time around. I do have an image to share from that visit, but it will have to wait a bit longer..

Today, I would like to share an image I took less than 10 hours ago on Prince Edward Island (PEI). This is Canada's smallest province, both in area as well as in population.

I am working on my lighthouse series, and apart from the fact that I had never been to PEI before (it's crossed of the 'list' now) this island also has lots of lighthouses dotting its shores. It also gave me an opportunity to photograph its link to the rest of Canada, the 'Confederation Bridge'. But more on that later.

I got up real early this morning and started going out to shoot. It rained hard yesterday, and the weather report was calling for approximately 4 hours of dryness - my window to go out and shoot! I was heading for the Confederation Bridge when I saw what looked like a small lighthouse on a picturesque cliff above the ocean. On a whim, I decided to try and find an access road to it. It took me a while, driving down a few dead-end roads, turning around and giving the next road a try. I finally found access to a beach from which I could see the lighthouse in the distance. It was a nice hike down that beach, and a small climb up and across a field. When I reached the lighthouse I was surprised how truly small it was. At less than 10 feet in height, this easily makes for the smallest lighthouse I have photographed for this still emerging series.

Above is the black and white version of this PEI lighthouse. Exposure was 420 seconds, F11 @ ISO 50. 12 stops of ND filtration. Shot on my Cambo Wide with 35mm lens and Phase One P25+ Digital Back.

The rain was on its way, and the sky was thick with clouds. I was drawn to the position of the lighthouse, as it was perched high above yet very close to the edge of the cliff. It looks like private property, and I haven't been able to figure out its name based on the lighthouse maps I am working with.

This photograph reminded and re-taught me an important lesson. As important it is to have a plan, pre-scout and research your shooting areas, it can be even more rewarding to follow your instincts (even if those deviate from a well-formed plan). it would have been easy just to keep driving down that road. I had a plan. Making the turn left me wondering if it was truly 'worth it' to search for this lighthouse I only saw briefly. In fact, I almost got stuck in the mud along the beach access road, but standing on that cliff after a nice hike made it all worth it!

The rain held off, and I even got to take a few quick shots of the Confederation Bridge before it started. But then it rained hard, all day.

Oh, and while I was working on this image tonight I couldn't resist but include a color version as well. This one was edited in Exposure 4 Plugin (by Alienskin Software). Take a look and leave me a comment below as to what you think about both versions. As always, your feedback is very much appreciated!

The above image has been adjusted slightly more compared to the black and white version above. I had some fun trying out some presets. Not sure if i willl keep the frame, but for now I wanted to experiment with it so let me know what you think.

Ok so now let's take a look at making this image from the beginning.

Below you can see my shooting setup. Image shot on my iPhone.

And here is the original RAW file, cropped to a 2:1 aspect ratio. I made basic exposure adjustments in Adobe Camera RAW, then opened the file in Adobe Photoshop.

Here's the Photoshop file, including all layers and adjustments I made to-date. I am working on my MacBook Air while on this trip, so I keep my post production as 'light' as possible. I will likely re-visit this image once I am back home in Vancouver, and if I do, I will add an update to this post.

Note that the above file contains both, the black and white as well as the color version.

As you can see, it didn't take much adjustments to get to my final results posted above. I know many photographers claiming they spend up to 100 hours and even more on their images, utilizing up to 100 layers in the process. Obviously, I get the job done with a lot less :-). Well there certainly are some areas in the image that could be adjusted further, but I do belief that I am almost there.

Let me know what you think. And please stay tuned as I will be posting more images from this recent trip very soon.

Thank you for reading!

Marc

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