60 Minutes

My first Blog post

This is my first own blog post, so I hope you are patient with me if I did some things wrong, I’m still learning :o) So this is a Blog-Post about how I created the shot “60 Minutes” and what my intention was.

Why the name “60 Minutes”? Ok about 1 Month ago (when I wrote this article), I looked out of the window of my home-office and saw that the Venus brightly glowing  above the Moon. So I grabbed my camera and tripod and started making some images. After some minutes I decided to crate a panoramic image. So I positioned all and started shooting. Again after some time I realized that the sky was changing constantly in such rich colors. So I kept on for a about 1 hour. At the end I wanted to merge all the experience into one image. Therefore the name “60 Minutes“.

First of all I placed my tripod in front of the open window and started to shoot panoramic images (5-6 with 3 exposures). My Camera has been set to following settings Mode: Manual Aperture: 9 ISO: 100 Focus: Manual set to “Infinite” Unlike other people I shot each panorama in a row with one consistent exposure. Then I repeated this step two times, each one with a difference of +/- 2 stops. So at the end I’ve got 3 exposures of each panorama. I know that there is the possibility to turn on bracketing to +/- 2 stops and shot right away. But sadly my maximum bracketing could be only set to +/- 0.7 stops. So I really had to do everything  manually. I know that this would be a big back draw for some people, but  it also has an advantage in this case which I will come back a little bit later. OK so after 1 hour of shooting the real fun/work begins. #1 I imported my images into Lightroom. First tip: ORDER YOUR FILES!!! If you have that much contend it is crucial to keep a good order of your files. I was lucky that I bought myself the new Trey Ratcliff’s HDR Tutorial. In this he described how to visually order/color-group your files. That tip helped me a lot!!! So after importing the files I ordered them by color. To do this just click on the small box below your image and select your color. You can also select multiple images and then give them a color. In my case blue means correctly exposed, red = underexposed, green = overexposed. This is not the perfect way. There is none. So it is completely up to you what color you use and what it means to you. In my case it was easier for me to directly see what I’m dealing with. Do you remember the disadvantage of my camera I talked about earlier? That “disadvantage” made my life easier because each exposure was shot each after another, so I could more easily select the images and sort them out “better”. You just have to make the most out of your equipment. :o)

Just select the marked area to define what “frame-color” your image(s) should have.

#2 After color each exposure-set separately I’ve additionally “stacked” all 3 exposure-sets from each panorama. You can think about this step like some “subfolder”. So at the first glimpse I could directly say what exposure-set belongs to which panorama. After importing, frame-color & stack those panoramic sets it was time to create a the panoramas. So I selected one exposure-set of one panoramic shot, hit the right mouse button above your selected images button and select “Edit In / Merge to Panorama in Photoshop

Send your exposure-set to Photoshop to create a panoramic image.

Send your exposure-set to Photoshop to create a panoramic image.

#3 After Lightroom took some time to prepare the export Photoshop should open and following window appears:

These are the settings that worked for me.

Sorry I’ve got only the “German” version of Photoshop installed. I try my best to correctly translate.

In my case I selected “re-position / blend images together / OK“. Now the magic happens. Depending on your Hardware power and the size/megapixel each images was shot, this could take a while. So just let the computer take it from here. When finished you should end up with something like this

After Photoshop stitched the images together

#4 What I had now was a panorama stitched together with all my separate images. As you can see, even that I used a tripod I still had areas where I don’t had all information on the stitched panorama. But I could easily get rid of this by cropping the Image. All I had to do was selecting the “crop tool (#1) / select the area I wanted to have NOT removed from my panorama (#2) /confirm it (#3)”

Crop your panorama

#5 After that I had to save my image in Photoshop. The file should be then automatically shown in Lightroom. So I had to repeat those steps (#2-4) for all my exposures (and all my other images I shot during the 1 hour). In the end I had 3 different exposure panoramas from each shot in Lightroom.

3 panoramic exposures

3 panoramic exposures

#6 The next steps where pretty straight forward. Selecting the 3 exposures of each photo-set and exporting it to Photomatix. (You could also use other tools like HDR Efex Pro 2)

Export your files to Photomatix

Export your files to Photomatix

This is a settings-dialogue that pops up when exporting to Photomatix. In my case “align images”, “crop aligned result” & “remove ghosts” was important, because I shot each panorama with each exposure separately. So each exposure was slightly different in image resolution.

Settings I use for exporting to Photomatix

Settings I use for exporting to Photomatix

#7 Here you can see how Photomatix reacts to different image sizes in an exposure set. You just have to confirm that Photomatix will crop your image to the smallest width & height.

Because all my 3 exposures had different sizes this message pops up

Because all my 3 exposures had different sizes this message pops up

Despite, not everybody knows how to work with Photomatix, I decided not to not cover the endless settings in used Photomatix. Normally you decide which preset/settings looks best for your image/represents the scenery you shot and click ok. This is how the 1st image looked like after working with Photomatix.

Result 1st Image

Result 1st Image

#8 So I repeated all this so at the end I had created out  of each of my exposure-sets accordingly one HDR. The last step was pretty much straight forward. I selected each HDR in Lightroom and exported them “as layers to Photoshop“. What now is happening is that Photoshop is opening all images in one image as separate layers.

Export all HDR to Photoshop again

Export all HDR to Photoshop again

#9 After I had all images in Photoshop as separate layers all I had to do was to align them automatically. So I selected “edit / align layers automatically“. As a projection setting I used  “reposition” what worked in my case. So if you are trying this maybe other projection setting work better.

Align your layers

Align your layers

Because I had 6 images with about 13000 x 6000 pixels this took a while. Depending on your hardware it could be time to grab some new cup of coffee or take the dog out for a walk and come back later. #10 Now to my last stepp. I created some masks to blend those layers together and finally create the result and my experience that I had for shooting about 1 hour the sky.

Painted masks so I could blend this images together

Painted some masks so I could blend this images together

#11 Final result + variation

60 Minutes Final result

60 Minutes Final result

another Version of 60 Minutes

another Version of 60 Minutes

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