Monday, October 13, 2008

The Red Barn and Hay Fields

I was reviewing some images to select for this weeks post, which was to be on a beautiful wooden 12th century Norwegian Heddal Stave Church. While playing around, undertaking serious fine-art editing, I thought that maybe the image I was working on would be worthy of a few comments on why I was distorting enhancing the versions the way I did.

The main goal with the scene was to try and recapture some of the magic that seemed to permeate the air.

We were on our way to see the huge wooden church just outside of Notodden, Norway. As we got out of our cars in the parking lot there was this large red barn like building that had in front of it a field of late afternoon sunlit hay. These brightly lit fields glowed with a late summer ochre hue. Very warm and dreamlike, at least that’s how my memory recorded the event.
In an earlier article,
What I Saw, My Camera Captured and What My Mind Thought it Saw , I discussed how our perception of events and not what really is there can be locked in our mental image.

The above image is the one I like the best so far. I am not sure that it really captures the memory but I seem to now like this version. The B&W image, further below, does show the glow in the grass better, but for this image a little bit of colour ties with the memory better.

The basic editing these 2 versions was to take the RAW file and adjust for reasonable white Balance. This is the image at the right at 5500K. The sky was too pale and washed out so I changed the WB to 6000K and inserted this as a smart object layer in Photoshop. The reason I use the smart-object layer is because once I mask out the grass and background I can adjust the WB to better match the grass colours in the foreground, which I did in this case. Without the strong yellow it was easy to set the blue to cool.

The 2 Camera Raw version, each with a different White Balance. The warmer setting of 6700 to increase the yellow in grass and background and a WB of 5050 to darken and add more blue to sky.

The next 2 adjustments were a gaussian blur (7px) on a duplicate layer and the masked just for the grass portion. This layer was set this to overlay mode at about 36%. There was curves layer applied just to this blurred overlay layer to fine tune the glowing effect.

Next 2 new layers were added each with its own mask. One to lighten the central corridor to red barn. The other to darken the 2 outer edges of grass to better define this luminous corridor.

The B&W version uses a B&W layer with a darkening of sky (blue slider) and some lightening on the red slider.
The very top right image just has a hue sat layer set at –45 saturation

The 3rd image which my wife likes the best uses a slightly different technique.
It uses a Hue/Sat layer set to Overlay mode and a 2nd Hue/Sat to increase red sat and reduce the blue. The blurred grass layer is set to lighten and reduced so as not to over power the other overlay layer.

Normally I would show you 3 versions of the same image but when I showed the samples, everyone had there own favorites.
Let me know which image, if any, you enjoy. I would be curious to understand how you see images like these.

Niels Henriksen


Anonymous said...

Hi Niel
The last picture is the best in my eyes. The sky is beautiful and the colour of the wheat is just right.

nielsp said...

Thanks for the comment on which photo you liked best. I also do like the colours and I think the yellow glow factor works best here.

This got me thinking that if making prints for sale, which type to you offer people or do you make them all available.

I have learned one thing from entering many photo competitions is that the images I like best do not always win and some the other images I enter just to account for the different views of judges seems to do better.

Or maybe the truth is I know what I like but I don’t know art. (grin)

Niels Henriksen

Coffee & Conversation said...

The first one seemed striking with the pale grey-blue sky and the tone of the red on the barn. However after seeing the rich tones of the last picture, and hearing your description of the field lit up, that seems to be the best one that describes it.

nielsp said...

I agree that the last does seem to recall the feeling I had better, but for my tastes, this week, I would rather have the 1st hanging on the wall.

When winter settles in, then maybe the more vibrant yellows will help with seasonal blues.


Antoine Khater said...

I would take the B&W version anytime !

I love it and I honestly don't feel any need for colors in this one


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