Teach it Tuesday - "hope"

I recently shared an image on Facebook that got a lot of love so I thought I give some behind the scenes as to how the image came together. 

Last week I was at the Mission. A crazy rainstorm had just blown through town and I was waiting for one of my amazing couples to arrive for our engagement session. As I sat on my bench I just loved how the scene before me was presenting itself... I took out my camera and did my best to grab what I was seeing.

The gear I used:
Nikon D800, Nikon 24mm, Lee Big Stopper, Manfrotto tripod, timer shutter release.

Here is the image right out of the camera. As you can see there are several things that stand out as annoying to me. Lines going in weird directions, dust on the sensor, a weird color cast and some distracting background elements.

When exposing this image I was careful to make sure that I did not blow out the sky and at the same time that there was detail in the shadows / blacks on the statue and background trees.

Source frame, right out of the camera.

Source frame, right out of the camera.

I tried to make my adjustments in Lightroom but... it just didn't have the horsepower so I had to boot up Photoshop. Using Photoshop, I straightened the lines, enhanced the detail in the clouds, statue and cross and then played with the color. I warmed it up to give the image a little more "hope". When that step was done I dug into my personal stash of "stuff" and pulled out a few bird samples. Using layer masks I hand painted the birds in behind the statue and shaped them to match the lines of the statue.

The finished image below reflects about 3 hours of work in total.

Final image.

Final image.