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Shooting Diary | ET Phone Home | 6th March 2010

Written on Saturday, March 6, 2010
Last updated on Monday, February 3, 2014

Shooting Diary

Ross and I went for a scouting trip to a few bits of Fife. We stopped at Carlingnose Point which is where this was shot. We wandered along to the old breakwater at Seafield in Kirkcaldy and then headed out to Elie for the sunset.


Carlingnose Point

First stop, neither of us had been here before. I'd seen where to park but due to an incredibly rude* hill I declined to walk down.

We'd both being seeing quite a few shots from this location, notably from David Queenan (NorthernXposure). Here, here and here. So we headed down to check the lie of the land as it where. I was most unhappy about the hill we had to walk down although it did give me something to complain about on the way back!

* It's very presence caused offence!


Ross had seen Duncan's Seafield shots and later, my ones so I took him there so he could find it easily. He lives a hop, skip and jump from Fife so he can visit these places any time.


We'd been to Elie before, way back in the day, and I wanted to revisit. Partly because it was one of the better places to get a sunset that we hadn't been to recently and partly because I'd seen some lovely shots from there - sorry I can't find them now.

As it turned out the weather had other ideas. Anyway all my shots from the trip can be seen here. Ross is a bit more "organic" than me so you'll have to go through his stream to find his ones.

Shooting Setup

Bracketed 3 frames at +/- 1.33EV on a tripod and using a Phottix remote.

Honesty forces me to admit the eponymous "ET" brick was put there by me. I liked that the brick was lighter coloured and red compared to the surrounding grey rocks and I also liked that your eye would flick between the pier and the brick trying to decide what the subject was.

Worth noting is this is a rare middle of the day shot. I almost exclusively shoot for sunrise and sunset. This made for a refreshing change.

Post Processing

My work flow goes from Bridge > Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) > Bridge > Photoshop.

Here are are the three source images straight out of camera before I so much as touched a pixel.

DSC_5504.NEF DSC_5505.NEF DSC_5506.NEF

RAW Processing

In ACR I made the following changes: - 0EV

I used the "Auto" levels on this frame. ACR felt I underexposed and added 0.7EV to the exposure. That ended up blowing out pixels of the ET brick - not that it mattered, the -1.33EV frame was fine.


I added 0.6EV to this frame to pull it up a little more. This would mostly be used for the sky and ET brick so I didn't want it too dark.


I did nothing to this except use the "Recovery" slider to pull back some of the blown parts - Not that I'd likely be using them.

For all the layers together I added 17 to the "Vibrance" and straightened the horizon. One day I will get a perfectly horizontal shot! Once I've done my RAW adjustments I go back to Bridge. I do this by clicking the "Done" button in ACR instead of the "Open Images" which would load the 3 files separately into Photoshop.

Dynamic Range Increase (DRI)

The next stage of the post processing is to load them into Photoshop for the DRI processing.

From Bridge I go to menu "Tools | Photoshop | Load Files into Photoshop Layers". This creates a new PS document with each of the exposures with their original filename - very handy for later when I want to save the PSD.

The DRI process is simple to do but complicated to describe so I've made a video which should make the explanation much easier. To summarise the DRI process, I took the sky, ET and a hint of the very close foreground rocks from the -1.33EV exposure while from the +1.33EV I only took a few bits for the edges of the rocks to give a highlight effect. Everything else is made up of the 0EV exposure.


Next I did a Black & White layer and chose "High Contrast Red Filter" from the presets - whichever preset you choose, it's easily changed later.

I then switched the mode of this layer to "Multiply". This darkens the dark parts considerably as well so I backed off the opacity to 69%. That little tweak is a bit complicated to work out what is going on. Certainly I've no real knowledge of what is happening, only that it tends to add a mega contrast. Here's how I think it breaks down: -

  • The Black & White does what it says on the tin, converts to black and white. The presets act like channel masks to allow you to decide which channels you want to use to make up your black and white. The "High Contrast Red Filter" I guess gives a contrast red channel.
  • The "Multiply" blend mode takes colours and multiplies them. So if you have some blue and multiply it with blue then you get BLUE. (I think)
  • When doing a Multiply on a Black & White layer you're taking the colours the "High Contrast Red Filter" shifted towards black and making them darker. So it's a bit like blue multiplied by black is darker blue. (I think)
  • Therefore the effect of this layer is to make the pixels formed by the blue and green channels darker but to leave the ones with red alone. As you can see from the SOOC image there's certainly a LOT more contrast in the final result. That was the intent. I wanted to make the sky look moody.

Once I did that I took one more step. I disabled the Black & White layer then ctrl+clicked the RGB channel to make a selection. I believe this selects the highlights from the resulting visible layers.

Next, I re-enabled the Black & White and selected the mask then alt+delete from the layer mask.

I then inverted this. The effect of this masking was to only allow the effect of the black & white layer to touch the darker parts of the scene. The highlights where unaffected. In effect it slightly brightened the effect. Next up it was a quick smart sharpen and slap on the watermark.

Job done!

The following was also shot the same day and processed in a similar manner. This one was taken at Seafield in Kirkcaldy.


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