Photoshop Edit – Palafox Wharf

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As Palafox Pier is one of the best spots in Pensacola to catch a sunset, I’ve been to take photos several times. I even entered a school contest sponsored by Jaco’s where the restriction was photos taken on the pier. Until the other day however, I was never able to get down onto the wharf where the boats are harbored. I was invited in by a lovely couple that owned the quaint sailboat you see in the foreground of my image. It was so much better taking photos from down near the boats instead of behind the fence that is safeguarding them – I ended up with a spectacular shot.

I thought it would be a good first image to record my landscape editing process on. I sped it up 500% to bring it to a watchable time limit, but I spent approximately 35 minutes on it all together split up between a couple sessions. With important images I find it’s better not to finish editing all in one go. Sometimes you need that refreshing secondary view hours or days later to get a real good grasp on what editing the image demands. That being said, please take a look at the video below!

Points of Interest

A couple things might not make complete sense watching the video so sped up. First off, the image I’m editing is an HDR I had created earlier and did some basic editing on in Lightroom before exporting to Photoshop. After various testing over the years I’ve come to realize that a good edit in Photoshop starts in Lightroom. You need to get the most of your RAW first – raising blacks, bringing down highlights, in general just making the image a more flat exposure so it has the most information when brought into Photoshop.

The second thing I want to mention is the selection I do in the beginning of the video. Because the sky and foreground are still such different exposures, it’s important to me that I edit the two separately. I noticed that most of the masts sticking up into the sky are rather dark in comparison so the magic wand tool should be able to accurately select them. I use it to select most of the foreground, going back in forth from quick mask to paint in some of the selection. Once I get most everything selected I use the refine mask dialogue to really tone in the selection.

Other that that it’s mostly my usual selective adjustment layers. Darken and add more contrast to the sky, lighten the foreground and color correct the boats because they are way too blue. On top of that add some general curves and color balance to add contrast and a unique color to the image. I’ve found that color balance really adds a certain moodiness to landscapes. I know some of you will say sunsets are moody enough, but I like to push it to the limit.

Sunset behind boats docked at Palafox Wharf

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