Today’s post is one of my favorite photos that I’ve taken recently, and one I’ve been sitting on for a while. Sometimes when you have a photo that you think is really great, I think we have a tendency to not share it, as like we have an “Ace up our sleeve”. Well, here’s the shot.
Hopefully now the title makes a little more sense. This composition is one that I’ve done several times before, so the whole “let’s go be better at photography and be creative” thing kind of went out the window. But no matter how many times you do a similar composition from a familiar location, sometimes the stars simply align, and that perfect opportunity presents itself. If you recall, about a month and a half ago, I posted a shot of Spaceship Earth from the same sunset, which at the time I was pretty proud of. But after doing the edit on this photo and looking back, this photo makes the other one look like it was done by a rank amateur.
From a technical standpoint, this one was quite a challenge. I had to make the decision of whether to stay true to the image, or to push it into a more “art” style photo. I tried my best to kind of meet in the middle. While it might seem ridiculous, the colors and lighting in this shot are very close to what I remember seeing during this sunset. Like I said before, sometimes everything just looks right. And this was one of the finest sunsets I’ve ever seen, let alone one inside a Disney park. First step was Photomatix, since this was a 3 exposure bracket that I shot off a tripod. I tried processing just one of the files in Lightroom, and I just wasn’t getting the dynamic range I was looking for. I probably have a tripod 5-10% of the time I spend in the parks, so I was pretty lucky that evening to have one. I use Exposure Fusion in Photomatix for 90% of my bracketing, since I think the Details Enhancer tab can tend to push things way too far, but I’ve seen amazing work using that, so maybe it’s just not meant for me.
After using Photomatix, I imported the TIFF file into Lightroom for some general exposure tweaks, lens corrections, as well as adjusting some individual colors. Still wasn’t satisfied. I usually stay in Lightroom for most of my editing, but this photo (more like this sunset) deserved better. So I went into Photoshop with it and used Color Efex Pro, using the Pro Contrast, Brilliance/Warmth, Detail Extractor, and Darken/Lighten Center filters. I finally then sent it back to Lightroom for sharpening and a little noise reduction, and I ended up with what you see above. Did I push the details a little too far, thus making myself a hypocrite for normally not being a fan of this stuff? Probably, but I think the end result looks awesome, and when you aren’t doing professional work for people, the most important part of your photography is making you happy with it. I’m quite happy with this one.