Falls Park, 2009 Revisited
Recently, a local webzine start-up in the Greenville, SC area asked me if they could use this photograph of mine for their Facebook cover image. I agreed and you can see it on their Facebook page over at Centsibility - Upstate.
This image was originally taken in the fall of 2009. At the time I was just staring to work with high dynamic range, or HDR, imaging. While I liked it at the time, there were always aspects of it that bugged me. The issue which perturbed me the most were all of the ghosted images of the people on the bridge and on the left bank. Also, the image as a whole turned out a bit more saturated than I usually prefer, and it has a slight blue cast which you can see in the waterfalls.
When Centsibility contacted me about using the image, I was in the process of getting a stylus-based digitizing tablet. There have also been a couple of software changes and upgrades since 2009. Put all of those changes together with seeing this old image again and it felt like a good time to reprocess it. My intention was that reprocessing it would give me a chance to try some of the new software updates, maybe approach it with some better processing techniques, and give me a small project on which to introduce the digitizing tablet into my workflow. Below is the result:
I would say that is quite a change. The color cast is mostly gone thanks to a better white balance. The ghosts on the bridge have been taken care of for the most part by the new HDR software's anti-ghosting features. The people on the left bank are just ... gone. Those people still had severe ghosting after the new HDR processing. The man looked like conjoined twins and the woman with him was just a gray outline which did odd things to the woman and child behind her. To correct these problems, I opened the new image into Photoshop CS6, selected the aberrant ghosts (which the new digitizing tablet made really easy), and used the Content Aware Fill feature on the selections. Bam! The ghosts disappeared. The Content Aware Fill replaced them with leaves and rocks and grass from similar areas. At this size it is hard to tell they were even there. If you zoom in really close, you can tell something happened there, but not precisely what. The color saturation is something that is a matter of taste. The saturation in the original version was mainly due to the original HDR processing which I could have toned down at the time if I had thought about it. However, the new HDR software has more stylisitic options than my old software did back then. I could have made the new version more saturated. Indeed, I was able to get really close to the old look with just a few tweaks. Finally, it seems that I must have cropped the original version a bit as there is less grass in the foreground than in the new version.
For a quickie 10 to 15 minute reprocessing exercise, I think I can call it a success. Which version you like really comes down to taste. I think the new version might be a better "photograph" as it is more representative of how the eye would have experience the scene at the time. The first one works as a more graphic-style image since the saturation removes it from reality a bit.
I still don't like the sky very much. There are halos around the trees, and the highlights removes all color in certain areas in the sky. I think most of those issues are due to me not being as diligent when taking the original set of photographs as I should have been at the time. Guess that I will just have to go back some time and try again. Also, I might have made it too dark this time around.
More later ...
Keywords: Falls Park, Greenville, HDR, Liberty Bridge, Reedy River, SC, South Carolina, bridge, water, waterfall
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