In the latest episode of "Moments in Time" in the Philippines, I traveled to Legazpi along with Win Magsino to capture images of Mt. Mayon, a very beautiful and iconic volcano on the island of Luzon. In this post, I will take a more in-depth look at the post-processing that went into creating the final image.
To begin with, a large area of the mountains had recently suffered from a brush fire, so the initial location we wanted to use was still a charred mess, and in some areas, actually still on fire. Fighting against the clock with sunset rapidly approaching, we found a decent spot to set up and start shooting. To add some interest to the scene, I decided to use a 10-stop neutral density filter to create a two-minute exposure. This made the clouds streak across the sky, and the background was looking great. Unfortunately, the foreground had a massive hard shadow line on the mountains.
By the time the sun went behind the low cloud line, the shadows disappeared, but so did the beautiful light on the background mountains, and even worse, the clouds had almost completely thinned out.
I decided to take the best of both worlds and blend those two exposures together. That way, it was possible to keep the long exposure clouds and the light on the mountain, while getting rid of the harsh and distracting shadow line. Using a simple linear gradient on a layer mask, it was a simple process to seamlessly put these two images together.
With the technical part completed, the blended result was bland and needed a lot of love. Pretty much everything needed to be enhanced from the light to the colors and even the texture and sharpness. Using Skylum Luminar, I decided to apply a liberal amount of enhancement using a few choice modules, including Light, AI Enhance, Color, Details Enhancer, and Pro Contrast. The new version of Luminar works really quickly, even with my massive 100-megapixel Fujifilm GFX 100 files.
The result with a single pass from Luminar is pretty dramatic, but it definitely adds more punch to the overall image.
The final step I took was to add a little bit of dodging and burning to accentuate the highlights on the mountain tops. It’s subtle, but I think it makes a difference in the final image.
I plan to write more breakdowns for future episodes of "Moments in Time" since we only scratch the surface of post-processing on the show. If you want an incredibly in-depth look at how I create my images, check out the Photographing the World tutorials.