In this post I would like to share with you the process of creation of the Bahrain World Trade Centre I have taken with my Sigma DP1x camera in autumn 2011. I am in no means a professional photographer and the below recipe is just to introduce some methods which I have come across and which you may find useful, I will be very much looking forward to your comments and ideas!
The iconic Bahrain World Trade Centre twin towers are located on the northern bank of Manama overlooking the Persian Gulf sea as the main dominant of the Manama skyline.
In one ow my walks I have taken this photograph with my compact Sigma DP1x digital camera. I had no tripod at the time and was rather experimenting with finding different interesting views for photographing the skyline.
The photograph was taken at around 5:30pm before the sun set which is the only time when the sun can reflect on the facade of the towers to further render interesting texture of the sea waves.
For its unique chip structure (no Bayer mask) the camera has I use it every time i need to achieve the sharpest possible image and line rendition. Tho photograph was shot in RAW format which enables later loss-less fine tuning of the exposition values, color balance and other attribute of the photograph.
1. Processing in SIGMA Photo Pro 5
The SIGMA Photo Pro 5 is the native post processing application provided by SIGMA for fine tuning the RAW and JPEG files captured by SIGMA cameras.
When opened in the application the photograph looked like shown on the left image. While it appeared to have the correct exposure, my intention for the further use was to have it a bit lighter, and so here we have the second photograph for which I have increased the exposure value by +0.9 EV.
While I had found the composition and the texture of the photograph quite interesting I wanted to reduce the colour information as it wasn't in my opinion contributing to the overall atmosphere. I had the feeling the colour information is forcing us to stay in this reality preventing us to start dreaming about the sea and the sky and the mankind's desires to reach it.
Be converting the photograph to a monochrome scale I was expecting it to start talking to us solely by the means of the its composition and the game of lights and shadows and its texture.
While the middle photograph indicates the result after converting the color scale to a monochrome scale, I have also created 2 additional black-and-white versions of which one was underexposed by 1 EV (on the left) and one was overexposed by 1 EV (on the right). This was necessary for further processing in the HDR software I was intended to use in the next step.
Just a reminder - unlike with JPEGs the change of the exposition values in RAW format enables us to control the exposition without losing the pixel information. Further, working with RAW format enables us to create the EV bracketing from a single file, benefit of which is no need of use of a tripod at the time of taking a photograph. Another benefit is the elimination of loss of sharpness when aligning the resulting photographs for HDR processing.
3. Rendering in Photomatix Pro 4.0
Photomatix is an HDR application which enables additional postprocessing of photographs. It controls not only many important parameters of the photographs, it also provides a control over composing HDR photographs as well as additional rendering of their details.
For the purpose of this photographs I wished to render some interesting texture to the sea surface and use the HDR function to brighten the high contrast photograph and to give it some additional surreal character.
I have imported the above 3 BW photographs into the application in a batch, asking the software to combine them using the Tone Mapping method, specifically the BW Enhancer preset. I have further adjusted the White Point, Black Point and Gamma to achieve the brightness and contrast matching my taste. When satisfied I let the software render the whole result in high resolution TIFF which looked like this (resized).
4. ACDSee to add the GPS information
While I was almost satisfied with the result I needed to add the GPS information into its TIFF's EXIF header so that it could be used later by various online applications, such as our Ideon Gallery which are capable of displaying the location the photo was taken from on a map. To achieve this I opened the file in the ACDSee Pro 5 application which enables addition of the GPS information with extreme ease by simple dragging and dropping the files to a map. I prefer using this post processing method to enabling the in-built camera GPS function as it prevents significant draining of the camera's batteries.
5. Photoshop CS6 for layers
The last thing I needed to add to the photograph was the Caption and the Copyright layers, which would not only provide a title to the photograph but, once circulated, it would also enable users to be navigated back to its source of origin at Ideon.cz.
In Photoshop I added several layers with the text and the logo and I positioned them symmetrically at the bottom of the page so as to support the existing composition. In Photoshop (although this was done at the very beginning of the process). I have also rectified the geometry of the photograph so that the verticals were really vertical, the photograph was also cropped with precision so that the WTC towers were aligned with the absolute vertical axis of the format.
Before flattening the layers I have also added fine sharpening touch to the photograph.
6. The resulting photo