Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is probably one of the most photographed locations. Although I've been there at sunset, it is really a sunrise or cloudy day place because the best vantage point to catch both the mill and the pond is from the east looking west. The last time I was there, I was the only photographer out. This time, I was a late comer to a group of photographers that were part of a workshop. They had obviously been there awhile and were everywhere trying to get the best angle. I had overslept and realized quickly that I had probably already missed the "best" light. The sun was already catching the trees behind the mill - so the exposure difference between the trees and the mill was too great for the sensor. So I shot for HDR - basically three or more exposures one stop apart until I could get the background trees exposed and the darkest areas around the water wheel. Right now I'm working shots both with Photomatix and the HDR function of Photoshop. This time the Photoshop version just didn't work even after two tries. But the Photomatix version had its issues as well - there was a blown out area in the water where the blue sky was too bright. The yellow reflection in the water from the trees was also too bright. When shooting foliage, photomatix also can make the leaves look not quite sharp enough. So, I used a dodge and burn technique to tone down the bright yellow reflection. I cropped out the reflected sky. I created a duplicate background layer so I could sharpen the trees and leaves more. And then on the dodge and burn layer, I add just a little bit of warm color to brighten every thing.

The light was changing fast and the lighting on the mill was going to be speckled - too much difference between the bright early morning sun and the shadows from the trees. While I was a little frustrated that I had not gotten there earlier, I took time to do some panoramic shots. Because we were trying to follow foliage, I knew we couldn't stay in the area another day for a reshoot. I needed to get to the Great Smokies before the foliage there was all gone.

I'll be playing with the shots I did take for awhile. Here is one taken when the sun was a little higher. It is actually a stitch of two photos that I've turned into digital art using Topaz Vivacity.


Chris said...

Very nice!

Michael Ziegler said...

Beautiful photos! You sure have an eye for this.

Mike Z