mouse-over for before view.
Low winter light with its dramatic long shadows can be fabulous, it can also be very hard to process. Here’s one of several I shot just before Xmas at our Canal du Midi’s head of the UNESCO protected 17th century Five locks, i’ve photographed it many times, in fog, mist and even rain when it had its beautiful rows of Napoleonic ancient marching trees along each bankside, unfortunately this is all that’s now left, as they were all cut down last year because of a fungal infection spreading though the canal water all the way from the Atlantic coast, now finally reaching here in the Mediterranean coast after they think the fungus arrived inside a liberating American Army’s armaments wooden box during the 2nd World War and has taken all this time to move slowly through the canal water to reach here. Same view from before.
We’re hoping they’ll quickly be replaced with young American infection-resistant poplar trees asap, which should grow fast and give our world famous canal banks their much needed shade from the fierce summer sun.
Back to the picture, it had very dark shadows and very bright highlights, I tried to soften in Nik color effects and settled on ‘Candle’ from our Fly presets 2 pack, this gave it a slightly dreamy effect but wasn’t quite enough, so I then opened it up in Topaz Impression where I have quite a few of my own presets saved, this one is a 50% strength preset of mine called ‘boat’, this gave it its true painterly softness so to really get cooking with gas I recommend purchasing the inexpensive Topaz Impression which works as a free-standing program or a normal Photoshop plug-in.
Now I had a nice soft effect but finally thought the colour tones were, ahem, a bit dated? So I opened up in Nik Color Pro again, and just used one cross process filter, and was instantly happy with the cooler more modern yet retro result.
Then it was time to rebalance and soften more with our Flypaper textures, I finally used 3 Fly textures as below. Even then after standing back I could see it still wasn’t quite right, there were several distracting/burnt-out looking dark shadow areas, so after merging and flattening and duplicating I did a bit of simple light painting, I took a mid-tone green sample, loaded the PS CC large soft brush, chose Screen @ 13% and softly brushed over the black shadows, on the right of the boat, bottom right corner of the bank grass and the left hand mid tree line, and voila, I was finished!
I could then have continued by making the two figures darker to stand out and who knows, perhaps I will, phew! ☺
Topaz Impression Painterly Filter @ 50% layer strength
Nik Color Effects- Cross processed B02 @ 52% strength -100% Normal filter
Casanova – Soft Light @ 100% Slightly desaturated
Danielli – Soft Light @ 35%
Ezekiel Plum – Overlay @ 24%