August 29, 2012

Kenilworth Castle Collab

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It is time for another HDR Collaboration. What is that, you ask? Every few weeks, a few of us practitioners of HDR processing get together to interpret a single set of brackets.

This time around, it is my turn to provide the image brackets and host the results. To challenge my friends,  I chose an image from England — The Ruins of Kenilworth Castle, in Kenilworth UK. I absolutely loved shooting this location. When I arrived, this was one of the first shots I took, and it remains one of my favorites from Kenilworth.

In processing my version (above), I wanted to bring out some of the contrast and textures hiding in the ruins walls. For that I used onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite, masking in the contrast and details. Using onOne, I also applied a couple of textured backgrounds.

But that’s just me. My mind was clouded by the fact that I was there. Let’s see how my friends’ imaginations interpret the scene:



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Fantastic, Bob!  A castle! And an old, decrepit one to boot. Perfect…

This was a great scene to process, as there are several disparate elements to pay attention to: The green grass; the blue sky; the ruins in both the foreground and the background.  Using Topaz ReMask 3 I was able to isolate each of these elements and process them independently of one another. The base image was generated using HDR Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software, my new favorite ‘go-to’ program.

I love the wide angle views, but the ‘leaning’ walls always get to me, so I set about to straightening up those lines. Work was done to bring out the details in the ruins without going too ‘hyper’, and to balance the foreground green. The sky was an issue for me, though… it was too bright and cheery for what I saw as the mood of the location, so I used some light filtering in OnOne Perfect Effects to give a more appropriate, brooding look. All in all, I like the more muted, sinister look to the sky — I believe it fits the scene well.

Thanks for sharing these brackets, Bob. I doubt I’ll get the chance to visit there any time soon, so it’s nice to ‘step into the scene’ for a while.  Cheers!


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This may be the closest I ever get to the United Kingdom and I have Bob Lussier to thank for it! You are a gem Bob – thank you! What a great composition, blend of textures and wonderful colors all in one frame! I normally don’t bump up the saturation much, but being a shot from England, I could only imagine the image having a deep rich green in the grass, warm earthy tones in the ruins, backed up by the textured clouds against a deep blue sky.

First, in Perfect Effects, I applied some contrast through blending a Chrome black and white layer in a luminosity mode, then applied a polarizing filter to deepen the blue skies. The Magic Forest preset was applied to the grass to bring out the greens and Moulon Rouge was applied to the castle ruins to bring out those earthy reds. Final Perfect Effects work was a Tonal Contrast layer to bring out the details. High pass sharpening was applied to the ruins in Adobe Photoshop Elements, along with Topaz DeNoise on the sky. Finished up in Aperture. Thanks for taking me on my first journey across the pond Bob, it was hoot!



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Thanks a bunch for the brackets Bob, I will probably never get the chance to see this so it was a pleasure to work on them for sure.

I ran all of the shots through Photomatix Pro, then the fun started. I did some lens correction and a slight crop, and then got stuck. I let the image set a few days, then after a crap day at work I needed to release some creativity, so here you have it. The scene is great and reminded me of something out of Monty Python or possibly Lord of The Rings, I would love to get to some of these places.

I went with a color version first and then quickly changed course, maybe I was on a crash course? I quickly converted the image with NIK Silver Efex Pro 2, then added in some NIK Glamour Glow, then some extra detail filters and finally pushed a couple layers through Topaz, the Sunset filter, added a little lens flare. I then used 2 different textures to finish off the look I wanted and there you have it, the Theaterwiz rendition of Kenilworth, my Lord Of The Rings version. Thanks again Bob. A lot of Fun


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I have to confess that there occasionally images that defeat me. I have images in my catalog that are perfectly fine, that I have never published because I cannot make them look the way I want them to look. That is exactly what happened here, and I considered blowing off this round with an excuse, but decided to come clean and admit that sometimes I cannot achieve the look I want. I do not dislike this result. In fact, I a little proud that I managed to create something I’m reasonably happy with. It simply is not what I tried to do.

So thanks to Bob for the challenge. It is a strong image and while I wish I could have done it the way I meant, I hope this version pleases some anyway.


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  1. Thanks for hosting this round, Bob. It looks like we all had fun with the set. We have Urbex (Urban Exploration) and Rurex (Rural Exploration), but what’s the term for “Castle Ruins Exploration?”

  2. Another great collaboration here Bob. It’s so fun to see the work of such talented photographers putting their own unique spin on the same set of brackets. Keep ’em coming.

  3. Thanks for hosting Bob, I admit I went a little wild but could not help myself, it was a whole lotta fun to work on these, thanks again

  4. For the record, my vision of the image was to create something natural and clean like what Jim Denham did, but every attempt fell flat, so I went dark and moody, which can cover up some flaws. Kudos to Jim for managing what I couldn’t on this image, and thanks again to Bob for sharing the image with us.