I seem to like to make things hard on myself.
- Lots of moving subjects (hundreds of people in fact)
- Shifting horizons and foreground (waves)
- Lack of a tripod (shot thus handheld in about 60 seconds)
But the moment was worth capturing. I was in Huntington Beach (my birthplace in fact) and I really wanted a photo to capture the mood. Of course it was just about noon (the light was awful). That’s okay… the whole reason I enjoy Photoshop is the process of developing the picture in my mind’s eye.
The Shooting Process
Here’s how I pulled the shot off.
- I placed the camera into Aperture-priority mode because I needed a little automatic assistance to deal with the quick panning. I knew that Photoshop could handle any subtle shifts when it blended.
- I set the camera to Raw to have much greater flexibility in exposure and tone.
- I squared my body to face the most interesting part of the action.
- I planted my feet about shoulder width apart and twisted at the waist.
- I shot two exposures for each position (to deal with moving subjects).
- I tried to pan my body smoothly and create about 50% overlap between exposures to avoid issues with people being accidentally cut off by movement.
The Post Process
Here’s how I completed the post. I used several features in Photoshop to get the job done.
- Ran the Photomerge command. Slightly dissatisfied with first results so ran it again (each time is a little different).
- Adjusted the layer masks to clean up the blending of fast-moving objects.
- Used Cloning, the Patch tool and Content Aware Fill to remove blemishes.
- Popped Color with Vibrance
- Controlled tone with Curves.
- Used a Gradient Fill Layer and Photo Filter Layer to pop the sky.
- Cropped to improve composition.
- Performed Grayscale Toning.
- Used Blending Modes and Blend If command.
Here’s the walk-through.