Creating a Vision
Our recent trip to Eyre Peninsula yielded some very popular images. None more so than a panorama of Murphy’s Haystacks with the Milky Way above. We are thrilled with the interest and the overwhelmingly positive feedback which has arisen from this image. There has been however, a group of doubters who have presumed that I’ve composited the stars or the foreground into the scene. By sharing the process by which I took and processed this image, I hope that it gives you an insight into how our images are created and by doing so, the doubters can re-assess the validity of their accusations.
First, imagine the scene in real life. There are no towns for 20km in any direction, no moonlight and the sun had just set with last light almost gone. It was literally pitch black in that field with the stars shining above. If I were to present ‘truth’ in the image, it’d be a pretty boring image with only the stars visible. I wanted to create a scene encompassing the milky way over a visible foreground object of interest. Murphy’s Haystacks made for a very interesting foreground. They are a group of inselberg granite rock formations which literally arise from the ground in isolation to other rocky features in the surrounding area. As the milky way was almost directly overhead, I had to take a few test exposures to see if 16mm (my widest lens) could ‘fit’ in the milky way even shooting from very close to the ground. Next, I had to estimate the duration of lighting for each frame with a torch. Having established that the milky way could fit vertically into the frame and that 3-4 seconds of frantic torch waving gave me the smoothness of exposure I needed, it was a question of getting the tripod set up correctly and the first frame correctly shot. Below is the resulting 13 exposures taken.
After obtaining these shots which looked good on the LCD, it was still no guarantee that they would align correctly after stitching given the star movement during the 7-8 minutes it took to take all of these images. Fortunately , the initial stitch in CS5 was far easier to work with than other wide angle panoramas I have photographed!
In order to make the milky way more bow-shaped and less like a rectangular box, and in order to recreate the horizon, the transform> ‘warp’ function in CS5 was used.
Thereafter, I resumed my usual workflow for images which includes two main stages. The first stage involves mainly colour corrections and adjustment of lighting using luminosity masks. As you can see from the original images, the image was awfully warm and the rocks resembled nothing of their natural red and yellow colour you would see during daylight hours. Some of the layers and masks are visible which address these issues.
The second stage of processing involves multiple duplicated layers in varying blend modes. The aim of this stage is to enhance local contrasts, sharpening and glow effects of the image. Some of the layers and masks are shown in the image below.
Posted on November 9, 2012, in How we..., Photography, South Australia and tagged astro, Everlook, Eyre Peninsula, galaxy, Landscape, milky way, Murphy's Haystacks, Night, Panorama, Photography, South Australia, Streaky Bay. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.