26 Jan 15. The trip that included the cherubs licking the guardrail posts was a trip to see the Pacific Ocean at LaPush. I was hoping for lots of weather and some really nice wave action, the kind that would have made for a nice video with sound. What we got was an almost flat surface and virtually no wave action. O.K, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the wave action reminded us of the Gulf Coast stuff and that is more than boring. I took a few shots, mostly of the driftwood and the rocks out in the water, but with a totally blah sky, none of them were very interesting, except perhaps for a couple that had potential, but not on their own. A ways out from the shore line is a string of rocks, and with just a small amount of imagination, let's say along the line of what the cherubs might display daily, there is a magical sea creature, likely the predecessor to Nessie, and a bit more frightening. I got a pretty good capture of the critter and have elected to share that shot with you. Unfortunately, the sky wasn't appropriate for such a viewing, so I had to correct that situation to create the story.
Starting with the base image, I made two copies of it and blended them together using one for the sky and the other for the driftwood. I then added a layer of heavy handed micro contrast enhancement to make the clouds come to life. Next, I added a gradient map with curve adjustment to ensure I had sufficient dynamic range, and then adjusted just the greys in the image to give substance to the rocks, and masked out that adjustment from the rest of the image. Then, to make the critter (rocks) the center of attention, a selected just them, linked a curves adjustment to just that selection, and severely darkened the rocks to almost a silhouette. Following that I added an adjustment layer to darken and manipulate the entire scene, added a mask to that layer, and applied a black to white gradient on it to achieve the final look. Getting that gradient the way I wanted took a bit of time, but it was what made it come to life. With luck, it all comes together for you. Nikon D300s; 18 - 200; Aperture Priority; ISO 200; 1/320 sec @ f /11.