Feature Photograph

Post-processed lighthouse

This week's feature photograph was taken near Bang Chang, along the sea shore.  I was driving the area looking for photo opportunities of something unique.  When I first laid eyes on this scene I very much wanted a great picture of the lighthouse.  Ideally you’d have a dramatic sea and sky as a background, a decent perspective to shoot from so there’s little to no distortion, and from an angle that catches something interesting about the main subject.  All I had with this shot was an interesting door and upper window shutters.  The sky was drab, the background was unremarkable, and a good perspective wasn’t possible because this was right on the road and there was a ton of power and telephone wires running right (less than 4 meters) along the front where the door was.  The other angles didn’t include the wall, shutters, door, or anything interesting.  What to do?

I accepted there would be distortion, so I decided to create even more distortion and make the lighthouse appear imposing and/or intimidating.  I turned a weakness in the composition into a strength and was able to avoid most of the wires and cloned out the rest.  From experience I knew the sky would be interesting if I underexposed it.  The door, shutters and wall would be interesting if I drew attention to them in a positive way.  I set up for my shot, bracketed shutter speed, and took three shots with a single burst, each one stop different from each other.  My intent was to process them as HDR (high dynamic range) which is a very useful technique I’ll talk about in future columns.  Instead, this was our lucky week because Adobe released the final version of Lightroom 2.0 and I wanted to process a sample to share with you.  I was able to process this image in under five minutes to completion using Lightroom 2.  95% of my adjustments merely varied the exposure in different parts of the frame.  There was very little change in color or saturation.  This is what I started with out of the camera.

Original Object