Tag: complimentary colors

Sunset on the Ohio River

Ohio River Sunset June 5, 2013 #2
Ohio River Sunset June 5, 2013 #2

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I find it amazing how much the sky will change during sunset. This first image was approximately 30 minutes after the sun had set and the sky was lit as if it were on fire. Once the sun was below the horizon the clouds mover further east and stretched high into the sky allowing the sunlight to diffuse even more. I was walking back down the Big Four Bridge ramp and couldn’t believe how wonderful the light had become. The way it cast a warm glow across the landscape, river and the handrail was irresistible and I stopped to capture this scene. The small section of blue in the upper right corner seemed a perfect complement to the overall orange cast in the scene and really enhanced the warmness of the oranges.

I processed this HDR image in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 using a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures. After merging them I applied the Balanced preset and boosted the Detail and Drama settings to Accentuated and Deep which really popped the texture in the sky and on the water. Upon returning the merged image to Aperture 3 I added some contrast and made a very slight change to the mid-contrast which further enhanced the texture in the sky, water and on the Big Four Bridge too. I adjusted the color channels to suit my intent for the image and finished with some minor sharpening and a small vignette.

Ohio River Sunset June 5, 2013 #3
Ohio River Sunset June 5, 2013 #3

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As I sated earlier the range of colors and the effect it has on a scene is simply amazing during sunset. I often photograph directly into the sun when it is necessary to my vision of an image. I was drawn to this shot by the way the orange sunlight was spreading out from the sun while the sky around it remained blue. I liked the way the sunlight reflected in the river and on the ironwork of the Big Four Bridge on the right. I elected to shoot through the handrail to emphasize the perspective in the frame and to capture the people strolling along the riverfront.

In this image the complementary colors are reversed from their relationship in the first image with blue becoming the dominant hue. Whenever I am shooting I like to keep the concept of complementary colors in mind as I compose an image. Since orange is directly across the color wheel from blue the overall effect is a complimentary color scheme that allows both colors to really pop.  Whether it is something as dramatic as a sunset or a subject within a landscape I keep the color wheel in mind and look for complementary colors that will add interest while not dominating the final image.

Instead of using all three frames from my bracket set for this image I decided to use only the underexposed and the normally exposed frames. I did this because a little boy walked into the frame during the overexposed shot. I didn’t want to go through the effort of masking him out of the shot so elected to try a two frame HDR. The resulting image had a broad enough dynamic range to gather shadow details and still retain detail in the sunset and clouds.

One additional note about these images before I wrap up; I decided to crop them into a more panoramic aspect ratio in order to give a more expansive feel to the final images. I find that landscape images often, but not always, benefit from a wider aspect ratio.


More Vintage Tin HDR


This image is another HDR shot from last year. It is a single image that was tone-mapped using NIK HDR Efex Pro which helped me accent the textures of the rust and the paint while keeping the detail in the headlight and light bulb.

The composition relies on complimentary colors, red and green, to give it harmony while the repetition of form in the round headlight, turn indicator, and the horn contrast nicely with the vertical elements on the right side of the frame.


Homage to the Renaissance

Reflections in a Chrome Eye

Sometimes the simplest things can yield surprising results. As I searched the Streetrod Nationals for reflections in cars I came across this car parked in the grass which was a great mirror for the two red vehicles parked nearby. I thought about the way the painters of the Renaissance used convex mirrors in their paintings to capture distorted perspective and decided to go with that concept.

I would call this a radial composition due to the many concentric circles which focus the viewer’s eye on the image within the image though it also conforms to the rule of thirds. The colors in the image are primarily red and green which are complimentary colors and lend harmony to the scene and further strengthen the composition. I also enjoy the way the colors in the wheel are inverted from the center section where the green grass and blue sky are revealed; to the outer portions of the wheel where the green is now on the upper side and the blue has moved to the bottom. The reds of the reflected vehicles benefit too from the red jewel on the tire’s valve cap which adds a small foreground element to the image.

I first processed this image with Aperture 3 where I cropped it slightly to remove extraneous details that were interfering with my initial concept for the photo. I then I opened it in Topaz Adjust for the final enhancements which intensified the colors in the chrome and the scene within the center cap, along with the sky.

Louisville Waterfront at Night

One of the difficulties inherent in shooting night scenes is the large dynamic range needed to capture the scene. The artificial light in the image is usually much brighter than the surrounding areas. When this occurs the highlights are blown out which is almost always in the street lights. This image is one such situation. I shot this image using a five shot bracket series from +2 through -2 stops. Even at that range the centers of the lights are blown out in this image.

My studies of my images at night have led me to adopt a wider range of exposures to offset this undesired effect. My current practice is to go as many as five stops underexposed if I encounter scenes that have large ares of manmade lighting such as this one. I watch my histogram very closely and underexpose until I see the right hand side move completely away from the end of the histogram. I have discovered that by doing that I can subdue the blow outs that occur in the lights themselves.

I merged the five exposures in NIK HDR Efex Pro and then used the default setting as my base to tone map it. I then tweaked the sliders until it was where I liked it and finally returned it to Photoshop CS5 to sharpen it using the unsharp mask tool.

Compositionally I framed the shot with the sunset in the right hand third of the frame in order to balance it with the waterfront on the left. The sky counterbalances the architecture and the complimentary colors of the deep blue sky and the orange waterfront create a harmonious whole.

My point in sharing this image is to show you that the conventional practice of using an automatic bracket set to shoot the scene is not always going to give you control of the entire dynamic range. By using the histogram as a tool to analyze the images in your HDR shoots you can take control and prevent blown highlights such as the street lights in this image.