381 – Symphony in Blue

It’s interesting. I use StatCounter for tracking my visitors, and the last two days I had visitors who looked at thirty pages or more … and left no single comment. Pretty please: if you like what you see (and I suppose nobody looks at thirty pages without at least a tiny spark of sympathy), leave me a comment, and if you don’t like it, even more so. It’s the inner urge that keeps us going, but it’s your comments that make it easy 🙂

Today I got a parcel from the US: Ted’s prints have finally arrived. He had sent them to Florence, but they arrived one day too late, and so he lugged them back to the US, only to send them again. Now, here they are. Thanks Ted 🙂

This reminds me of my bad conscience. I still have not processed most of the images from Florence. So far no problem, Ted still rambles around San Pietro (and brilliantly so, but that will hardly surprise anyone, will it?) and is far from Firenze, but more and more I feel the need to carry on. Well, three or four of my images from that morning when we both were out shooting together are probably worth the hassle, and at least one of them is something Ted has not seen 🙂

But let’s get back to today. I am still meddling with HDR images, now almost always tone-mapping with Photomatix’ defaults, then applying a levels adjustment for a black point and probably some gamma adjustment (around 0.8 or so), most of the time a vignette (a soft light layer, hand-painted), and a beauty blur.

Hmm … as I have never explained what I mean when I talk of a beauty blur, it’s probably time to do so. For the blur I use a copy of the original tone-mapped layer, once in screen mode and with a 30 pixel Gaussian blur, and then another one in soft light mode with a 5 pixel blur. I may modify each of the two blurred layers with a curves adjustment layer, normally darkening them a bit. This can be fine-tuned by decreasing the opacity of one of the two layers. It depends on the image which one, but most of the time I dial the screen layer a little bit back, to about 80% or so. Then I put the two blurred layers (and their attached curves, if there are any) into a group, fine-tune the opacity of the group, and probably apply a mask to the group.

In this manner I have prepared another variant of the same view that we had twice yesterday. Today it is a morning view. More of the same, yes, but that is the way I think about landscapes in bright light at the moment.

The other image, the Image of the Day, was not shot with the Nikon 18-200, no, for big skies I use a more brutal tool, the Sigma 10-20 at 10mm. This image is from just after sundown, but before the clouds would go red (and, boy, did they go red!).

This time I wanted something theatrical, something unreal, something dominantly blue. The method is basically the same, though I had to use a de-saturation layer in between, or the blue would have clipped.

I already mentioned big skies, but I think I may probably need Kate Bush’s “The Big Sky” for another image, so you find me concentrating on color, albeit the same singer. “Symphony in Blue” is from Kate’s second album, the 1978 release “Lionheart“. See a live version on YouTube.

6 thoughts on “381 – Symphony in Blue”

  1. Andreas,

    Speaking of guilty conscience, I am a frequent visitor and give you my sincere apologies for not previously leaving a better mark. I am amazed at the effort and commitment you have to maintaining a daily posting, there is a high volume of great stuff here, thank you!

    I’m particularly susceptible to earthy fall landscapes captured with great variance in lighting – a subtopic in today’s post. I’m fond of the Hudson River School of painters, a big deal in landscape art history in the States. In this group of artists you can often see their use of lighting techniques to convey emotions through contrasts of light and dark. You have that captured nicely and your “beauty blur” does a marvelous job of bridging the gap between reporting on a moment in time and conveying the beauty of the moment!

    Regarding #381 – excellent! High altitude, thin air, elegance and grandeur.
    I enjoy your musical suggestions! On seeing today’s image I heard Nate King Cole’s “Blue Gardenia” and then Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.”


  2. Liked your description of a beauty filter. I’d thought in the past that you were talking about what I call a glam filter, but apparently the recepies are a tad different. My glam filter comes from creating a copy layer of your final image. Then increase saturation by 60% and the saturation by 60%. Next apply a median filter followed by a Gaussian Blur to this layer. Now duplicate the layer yet again. Use the luminosity adjustment on the first copy, then a color adjustment to the second. Lower the opacity on each to taste.

    The result is the classic misty blur Hollywood uses on starlets of a certain age. The luminosity opacity is the most powerful component of this sandwich.

    I like your variation… shall use it.


    BTW… powerful image. Kew-el yet mysterious.

  3. Sorry to be so wordy but… Hey, I’m wordy….

    You were nice to mention the Florence shoot that we did sort of together. As I’ve mentioned on my site, you and I work sooooo differently. You are methodical on the front end, working together impressive and highly detailed images. On the other hand my training results in a habitual effort to work fast and acquire volume.

    But I work VERY slowly in PP. So at the rate I’m going, I shall not even open my Florence files {today’s posting is an exception) for a while… heck… I may be seven or eight years until I get to the date of our shoot (just kidding).

    There is a great therapeutic joy in looking at my photographs in a linear manner, searching each image for what I felt at the moment I pulled the trigger. Since that trip, and my postings are for pleasure, I hate to jump ahead in the story. So you can rest assured that it shall be a while until I get to the date of our October meet at sunrise in Florence. (although you know I did cheat and post one of those images the day after we did our shoot… Before my MacBookPro crashed in Italy).

    I’m glad you finally got those well-travelled prints, hope you enjoy the surprise I included.


  4. Just out of curiosity, a more technical question: What do you do with the photoshop files? I guess, you keep them? I’m starting to experience some problems with the sheer size of the files. Makes collecting them a bit problematic, even in the age of 1/2 terrabyte harddrives…

    Your symphony in blue is a real rhapsody in blue…;)

  5. Ted, I’ll keep you informed 🙂

    Thomas, you’re right, since February I keep them. It’s positively insane, but otoh you now get external hard drives with 1.5TB for less than 400 Euros. De facto are drive sizes still growing faster than my image collection and my music collection together. I’d be in trouble though, if I were a video artist 🙂

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