Last Sunday, me and my friends were hiking up to the Crystal Hill (Bukit Tabur), it was 4 years ago since my last visit, until recently, when my friend Alan reminded me again. Before this, I have seen some sea cloud photos from others but myself never meet once, at the same time, due to the monsoon season, there’s are raining almost every night, which I hoping that this will generate enough humidity for some sea cloud.
With a strong hope in mind and Alan as our guide (he is also a good hiker ^^), we start our hiking at 5 a.m. Alan’s last visit was a year ago, but this is his first time hiking at such hour in the dark. Tried before by myself, but that was way too long ago for me to recall all the detail. We have to stop several times in the middle of the route, trying to figure out the correct path, fortunately, there are other hikers and one of them kind enough to guide us to the top.
When we were on our way to the shooting point
And a big wow! When we reach the viewpoint, we saw the sea clouds, plenty of them on top of the dam, and more coming from the left. Quickly we set up our gear and adjusting our composition, the place is narrow and rugged, so we have to be extremely careful in positioning ourselves. (And there’s already have several fatal accident in this place)
Group photo on the top of Crystal Hill, we have Max, Alan, Kian hock & his wife, thanks to a very Pro iPhone Photographer 🙂
When the sun rise and the light luminance the sea clouds and foreground, the scenery is just simply stunning. I took several series of 7 exposures bracketing shots. Having the sun directly pointed in my frame, it will cause unwanted flare, to resolve this, I make another few shots using my finger to block the sun. This will be used later in post processing to remove the flare. Once I settle with the shots that I wanted, I decided to make something different from my usual landscape photo, this time I want to include myself and take a selfie! 😀
I have my friend Alan help to press the shutter and guide on the posing, myself hike to the highest point in the frame and took several shots of different poses.
Alan, our guide on this trip, sorry for the OOF 😛
24 mm focal length,
7 Bracketing Photos at ISO-100. f11 aperture from 1/500 seconds to 1/8 shutters speed.
Portrait photo: ISO-400. f11 aperture at 1/160 seconds shutters speed.
In the post processing, I pick the best pose photo to start with. Blended in the -3 and -1 exposures from the 7 exposures bracketing series, this it to recover the over exposure on the sky. Then I use the photo with the blocking finger to remove the flare, at the same time I also blend out most of the people in the frame. That finishes the blending and recovery part, now I will move to enhancing the photo.
Two things I want to achieve in this photo. First is to have a warm glamour glow on all the highlights, second to make the person (which is me) to be slightly stand out from the photo, not too much, else it can look kinda unrealistic. I start with Nik software color effect pro, using the pro contrast filter to enhance the foreground and contrast, polarization filter to slightly darken the sky and a tonal contrast filter to adjust the contrast separately for shadow, mid tone and highlight. Then I use the color balance adjustment to add the overall warm tone on the photo, but to further enhance it, I added another photo filter adjustment by further increase the warm tone on only the highlight area, this is performed by using luminosity masking to select the desired highlight area only. I added another curve specifically only for the person (yes, is me^^), just to slightly brighten me up. Next I performing dodge and burn, and added more vignette to make myself more “Pop” from the photo. For the final step, I sharpen the photo and perform noise reduction on the sky, done!
Here is the before after comparison.
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