Mood and Texture

Hilz_100605_9716

This moody image was taken after sunset which produced a strong blue cast across the sky and water. Shooting in the fading post-sunset light also resulted in an eight second exposure which helped to smooth out the water. Another aspect which helped add to the mood was the textured appearance of the foreground water. This texture is actually plant debris floating in the shallow water. As I processed the image I looked for ways that I could accentuate the texture and mood. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me show you the steps I went through in processing the image.

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Hilz_100605_9716 (1)

I made my initial adjustments in Aperture. With such a significant difference between the original file and after the initial adjustments you might think I did a lot of "work" on the photo. Beyond my basic contrast, saturation and vibrance adjustments the only tone/color adjustment I made was using Curves. I applied one of my core Curves adjustments that I call Darken Darks (a lot of effort went into coming up with that name). You can apply the same Curves adjustment in Lightroom and Photoshop. Here's what it looks like:

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Next I went to Nik's Color Efex Pro and applied a series of filters: Midnight, Pro Contrast, Levels & Curves, and Tonal Contrast. The Midnight and Tonal Contrast filters has the most impact on the look of the final image. I applied Midnight at a low opacity; it was used to enhance the dark, brooding nature of the last light fading from the sky. Tonal Contrast was used to "create" more texture. I liked the texture in the foreground, but found the water directly to the right of the grass to be too flat and plain. I added Tonal Contrast to accentuate texture then used control points to selectively apply the effect just that part of the water.