Ready to Meet the Storm, the Back Story
My image of the P-38 Lightning over on my warbirdimages.com site has brought in a huge response. I appreciate all the kind words the image has brought and it tells me that it is successful since it has reached so many. At the same time, it has brought up a number of questions that I would like to try to address hoping it helps you with your photography. The two main questions are why HDR and why B&W? For my style of photography, be it critter, landscape or plane, background is everything. When we arrived at Oshkosh and that storm came in, the drama in the clouds couldn’t be ignored. The challenge was to find the appropriate foreground for the clouds. The P-38 was a great foreground so then I just had to perfect in the viewfinder what I needed to tell the story. The image title of Ready to Meet the Storm came to mind while looking through the viewfinder so I made this first HDR image. I didn’t like the tarmac under the wing so I moved in closer to the plane to eliminate it. That was a huge improvement as you can see here.
With the background now cleaned up, perfecting the drama was next in order. If you look at the clouds in the color version compared to the B&W, you will see what I think is a huge difference. The color version is the 5 image HDR, I do all the HDR and PS finishing before I go to B&W. Even with that, you don’t see the drama in the clouds. That doesn’t come out until the B&W and the magic of Structure in Silver Efex Pro. Then, it’s a balancing act between the Brightness and Contrast. Finally I punch up some of the fuselage with a Levels layer. Now if there was no cover on the canopy, I might have approached the whole thing totally differently but such was not the case. Keep in mind that a B&W photo must have a clean black and a clean white and after that, you can play with the tones all you want. I hope this answers some of your questions on how the final image (the bottom one) came to be. Thanks again for writing with all your kind words!
Photo captured by D3x, 24-120VR on Lexar UDMA digital film