Front row seat to the thunder and lightning – 20130105

A few nice best plugins images I found:

Front row seat to the thunder and lightning – 20130105
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Image by MomentsForZen
The clouds built up and finally burst with lightning galore. And what a menacing cloud!

I raced outside to set my iPhone up on a tripod and spent the next half hour using the Slow Shutter Cam app to capture a series of long exposure images until I had a number of pictures that captured at least one lightning stroke. I then isolated the lightning strokes from 7 images and combined them into a single image. Full processing details given below.

Barton, ACT, Australia.

Isolating and enhancing the lightning strokes …
iPhone 5 – Mounted the iPhone on a tripod using a Joby Grip Tight mount.
Slow Shutter Cam – SSC – Acquired 7 images from the same position, each recording at least 1 lightning stroke by stacking frames for an indefinite period and terminating each shot after recording a lightning stroke.
TouchRetouch – Removed the lightning stroke(s) from each of 7 images.
Superimpose – Isolated each lightning stroke using the Difference mode between each of the TouchRetouch outputs and its partner original image.
Snapseed – Converted each lightning stroke image to B&W. I had to do this because the lightning strokes were so intense that the iPhone camera sensor became overloaded and added bands with an undesirable purple tint, an iPhone 5 camera sensor behaviour which is well known when imaging strong light sources. Applied the Structure filter. Also applied the Sharpening filter to several of the images. Adjusted the overall brightness and contrast of each image.

Preparing the background image …
The sky region in each of the images containing lightning strokes was very flat. I decided to replace this with one of the great cloud textures that was present just before the lightning began. Unfortunately, the photo that I selected for this purpose was acquired from a slightly different position. This meant that I had to create an image just containing the cloud texture and blend this with one of the images that originally contained a lightning stroke.
Pro HDR -Two images optimised for different lighting conditions were acquired by manually selecting light and dark regions. These were merged by the app using the default settings.
Snapseed – Cropped the image to remove the building from the foreground and to retain just the clouds.
iResize – Resized the cloud image to 3264 x 2448 pixels.
Superimpose – Created a mask for the sky region of one of the images after removing a lightning stroke. Replaced this with the cloud image.

Adding back the lightning strokes …
Superimpose – Set the background image. Loaded one of the enhanced lightning stroke images. Blended this with into the background image using the Screen mode at 100%. Repeated this for each of the 7 enhanced lightning stroke images.
Snapseed – Applied the Structure and Ambience filters. Carried out overall lighting adjustments.
TouchRetouch – Retouched some small blemishes that had been introduced with the enhanced lightning stroke images.
PaintShop Pro X5 – Digital camera noise attenuated using the Topaz DeNoise plugin for PaintShop Pro X5 (JPEG Strongest plus DeBanding setting). Smart Photo Fix adjustments applied using manual settings.

(Filed as 20130107_iPad3 056 SSC-ProHDR-TouchRetouch-Snapseed-iResize-Superimpose-TopazDeNoise-JSDB-PaintShopProX5-SPF.JPG)

Tiny Chengdu
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Image by earth2marsh
Better large.

Using the GIMP, created a new white layer, setting opacity at about 90%. Then made a bilinear black to white custom gradient and touched up a few key spots with the eyedropper and paintbrush. Hid the layer, activated the background, and used the Focus Blur plugin (better than a gaussian blur) with the gradient layer as a depthmap and a radius of 10. Touched up curves and saturation.

Compare with the original.

ITG Railtour – Homeward Bound
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Image by bbusschots
A shot of the Irish Traction Group (ITG) rail tour to Sligo crawling through Maynooth on it’s way home early on Saturday night. This was a big railtour, going all the way to Sligo, and even taking a break in Dromod to visit the steam railway there. It was supposed to be a farewell to the 141 class, but unfortunately the 141 locos penciled in for the task were not working well enough to risk such a long trip. So, the tour was pulled by a lone 071 class loco instead. This is number 078 and it’s one of the few 017s still in the orange and black Irish Rail livery. It may be a more classic livery, but it’s in really really bad shape. I’d have preferred a freshly painted 071. The coaching stock was from the RPSI. The water in the foreground is the Royal Canal.

This was really pushing the limits of my gear. I shot this at ISO 800 (as high as I dare go on the D40) with my F1.4 lens wide open and the exposure dropped down to just 1/100 of a second (didn’t dare go slower on a moving train). I used the Topaz Adjust 4 plugin to recover more brightness from the shot by subtly tonemapping the shot (Adaptive exposure in Topaz lingo), and also used Topaz deNoise to try battle the noise a little.

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