On a recent workshop in Cape Cod, my students and I had just parked our cars at a beach wayside parking lot and excitement filled the air! All of us would soon be facing one of several challenges that this weekend workshop presented.
When we think of a lighthouse, images of the lone sentinel are often associated with bluffs, cliffs or beach or a rocky out-cropping, often surrounded by pounding ocean surf.
Well, as you can clearly see in the first photograph, this particular lighthouse was nowhere near any beach or pounding surf. In fact, I remember commenting to myself upon seeing this particular lighthouse "Whose idea was it to build a lighthouse in the woods?"
Most of the students walked ahead of me, proceeding across the street and up the small trail to the lighthouse. I and one other student stayed behind, as I felt the ONLY real shot worth taking here would be from the grassy area, where you can see a lone tea cup rose bush-(note the area that I have boxed).
Combining my Nikkor 12-24mm lens with the Canon 500D close-up filter, I was able to move in really close to a single rose bloom and frame up the scene you see here.
My initial reaction to this particular composition was fairly positive, BUT try as I might, I could not find a point of view that would allow me to 'lose' the roadway that is visible in the background. I did choose to shoot at a wide-open aperture, but even at wide open, (f/4) I was still unable to blur out the "unsightly" road in the background.
I did play around a bit with the Clone Tool in PS but that did nothing more than reveal a composition that now looked like I was trying to hide something. What's a photographer to do at a time like this?
At that moment I was struck with an idea as I recalled taking a number of beach landscapes the previous afternoon at a different location. You can see one of those beach landscapes here.
This particular image was also shot with my 12-24mm but at an aperture of f/16 and not surprising, unlike the wide-angle shot of the tea rose above, this image is super sharp, from front to back due to the use of the smaller aperture of f/16.
It was then that I got the idea! What if I were to combine the beachscape image with that of the lighthouse and tea rose? I would of course need to 'blur' the beachscape image so it would 'match' the natural blur of the lighthouse/tea rose image and once that was done, (using Gaussian Blur Tool in PhotoShop) I could then combine them and with the aid of a layer mask, "paint" this blurry beachscape into the lighthouse/tea rose scene and voila-that's exactly what I did!
Here is that image for all to see (If you don't know a thing about LAYERS, get signed up for Jon Canfeld's class-NOW!)
Assuming you have the knowledge on how to do a layer mask and assuming this was your shot, do you feel your viewing audience has the right to know that this image is a composite OR do you feel that it's nobody's business and unless someone asks, no one needs to know? If you have time comment here and let's get the discussion going!