I set out to shoot the super moon over San Miguel de Socorro, in Socorro New Mexico.
It was a great night for it - perfect desert evening with temperatures in the high 50's and just a light bit of wispy cloud cover. I went out for a bike ride by the moonlight, looking for just the right shot. The church is a centerpiece in town, and has been since 1598. It's pretty by day, but it was simply amazing under the light of the supermoon. I spent a while looking for just the right angle, to get the moon just where it should be. Finally I got down, laying on the pavement and found the shot that I was looking for.
Processing at that point was a little bit more involved than I usually like - I'd gotten all the elements, but boy were they a mess. First, I decided that I needed to go with the RAW capture, for a couple of reasons - first there's a lot more dynamic range available to me, especially in Capture One, allowing me to go to Photoshop with an image that is nearly HDR in nature. The other reason was the fact that a sodium vapor street lamp really kicked the yellow color-cast into overgear. The RAW file allowed me to do quite a bit of correction on that color cast, although it was bad enough that I still had to use Photoshop to mask several parts of the image separately so I could correct for the massive color balance problems.
Of course, using RAW has it's problems with the S95 as well - talk about complex lens distortion! The upswing is that the RAW files do give a wider FOV, but they are crazy distorted. So, after mucking about with the distortion tool in PS to get it as close to right as I could, I started the job of splitting the image up into several parts.
I chose to mask the church and the sky separately, I did a topaz de-noise job on the sky, smoothing out the noise from ISO 200 @ 1 second (pretty bad on a compact body). Then I adjusted the color to a slightly more teal tone, giving it a nice balance with the natural color of the church.
After this, I moved on to the church, where I used Topaz Denoise to both reduce shadow noise, and to bring up the texture and tone of the building. I then used hue/saturation to adjust the colors to enhance the red tones of the roof, and to bring the stucco into a natural tone that matches the daytime color of the building. (I used an old photo to compare). A couple of passes of unsharp mask and smart sharpening really brought the final textures and forms out quite nicely throughout the building.
This left me with a pretty good image, after a bit of consideration, I decided that the trees were much too yellow, and masked them out and went for a greener tone, with just a touch of yellow to not entirely lose that streetlamp lit feeling.
Now, I was drawn to the white surround of the doorway - it just wouldn't go white because of the color of the light source, so I masked it off and desaturated it entirely - then backed off the desaturation until a natural white tone was achieved.
Finally, the parking barriers were just begging for a little pop to give that corner something to enjoy - so I selected them out, gave them a round of unsharp mask to enhance textures, and then created a new layer where I colored the area yellow, and set the mode to overlay - giving them some nice pop.
Throughout this process, I was adjusting and mellowing things out by blending with my Wacom Bamboo Capture tablet - the pressure sensitive pen really does make this sort of thing go much easier, since I can just lightly work it until the feeling I want is achieved, and it's so much easier to be precise than it is when using a mouse.
Now I'm just worried that I got too darn creative on the title and will suffer for not restricting myself to one three word sequentially lettered phrase.
Oh well. Hope this finds some love, I certainly enjoyed making it, and am very happy with the final results. (other than a bit of distortion I still wasn't able to correct for...)
Straight from camera .jpeg -
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I do not think it sucked at all. I think it's spectacular. The one distraction I see, is the blown out Moon. Shooting RAW I would think there would be some way to tone it down a bit, but Overall, much underrated!