Fire in the sky – James Allan

Fire in the sky

Howard Seaman and I swapped files in order to compare approaches that we would use in image post processing.

This is the original file that Howard gave me



I was struck by the patchwork sky. I wanted to really emphasize the cloud patterns. Initially I used a NIK HDR filter to tone map the image, but all I got was a busy mess and clutter. (image right) I felt that it needed more depth. I wanted to draw the viewer more into the image .

Looking closely I noted that there was some faint warm colour on the edges of the clouds near the horizon, but it was very blown out. The picture also had a warm colour cast.

So this is what I did.

Firstly I corrected the colour cast with the midtone eye dropper tool. I chose a suitable bank of grey cloud as my reference point.

Then I dropped the exposure significantly with the curves tool and boosted the saturation in the highlights to bring out the bright orange.

I overlaid a deep blue filter (soft light) which I masked to avoid the highlights.

Lastly I vignetted top and bottom to direct the viewer to look at the centre of the photograph.

The resultant image is darker, but also more colourful and moody. There is interplay between the bright orange and the heavy blue tinge in the sky. I can see that it’s not perfect, but I am happy with the result.

Howard’s comments

Hi James

Thought I would also give you my version of the fire in the sky image in the meanwhile.  I really like your version though….this is proving to be an extremely interesting exercise.

cheers  Howard

Fire in the sky