Cloud Angel In The Night Sky

Could Angel In The Night Sky 10mm, f/3.5, 30s, ISO 400

Last summer I took my 6 year old son camping for the weekend at Padre Island National Seashore (PINS…see this post, and this post).  I didn’t do a lot of photography but managed a few shots to document the weekend.

The night shot that I recently posted from Big Bend National Park brought to mind some of the pictures I took at night at PINS.  The shot above had some really cool clouds and it looked to me like an angel with its wings spread across the ocean (kind of sappy I know).  The surf is always pounding down there but I like how the long exposure gives the Gulf a smooth look.

I can’t explain why, but the view of the stars from the beach is every bit as clear and amazing as the view in the middle of west Texas (which has some of the darkest skies in the US).  Depending where you are on the beach you may be as close as 15 miles from Corpus Christi — a decently-sized metro area of about 430,000 people according to wikipedia.  There’s a lot of glow from the city but on a cloudless night the Milky Way is as clear as ever (looks like clouds in the sky).  Obviously this picture was taken with a bright moon which kills much of the view of the stars so there were no Milky Way pictures that night.

My goal was to make this image rather dramatic given the cloud formation and the processing steps to get there were rather simple.  In Lightroom I removed a couple of stars within the angel shape with the spot removal tool.  They detracted from the aesthetics of the overall image because they were too bright. [My opinion is that one is free to do this kind of thing as long as they don’t dishonestly portray the final result as 100% accurate].  Then in Photoshop I used the channel mixer to tone the image to a blue-ish monochrome — I didn’t want a straight black and white image.  [David Nightingale’s tutorials have inspired a lot of experimentation with things like the channel mixer and with “dramatic” images in general]. I used a vibrance adjustment to back off on the blue a bit (couldn’t quite figure out the channel mixer settings to get the color just how I wanted it).  I added one general s-curve and then another curve masked in to provide a touch of vignette.  Some noise reduction and sharpening for the stars topped that off the Photoshop work.  Once I was back in Lightroom I tweaked the color a tiny bit more because I wasn’t quite satisfied upon a second look.


10 responses

  1. Wow… that looks almost Narnian. I love it.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:13 am

  2. Very nice Michael, nice treatment

    June 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

  3. WOW!!! Amazing shot Michael!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm

  4. jrutherfordphotography

    Very cool shot!

    June 8, 2011 at 11:25 pm

  5. Thanks, everyone!

    June 9, 2011 at 11:36 am

  6. Spectacular photo!

    June 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm

  7. Wow – truly amazing capture. I would have considered you lucky just to see a site like this not to mention having a camera handy. Nice work! 🙂

    June 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm

  8. Hey Mike, this is my first time on your site. You have a lot of great photographs here. This is an excellent photograph. Very nice.

    June 12, 2011 at 11:52 am

    • Thanks, Tim. I checked out your wedding pics — really nice. I may have to ask for some tips sometime 🙂

      June 13, 2011 at 8:23 am

  9. Pingback: Friday Photo Spots Weekly Roundup & a Photo From Tempe Town Lake — Jason Hines

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