Bill Peake  

Blarney Castle by Bill Peake

February 2021 - Blarney Castle

February 2021 - Bill Peake


About the Image(s)

Here is another image I took of Blarney Castle quite a while ago, May 2013. This was during a trip to Ireland.. The image was taken with a Panasonic GH2 with the stock 18-45 lens with th focal length set to 14mm. The aperture was f/6.3 and the shutter speed was 1/500. The ISO was set to 160. The Panasonic GH2 is a mirrorless micro 2/3rd body and is a little noisy, even at this low ISO. It was an overcast day and on the original image the sky was completely blown out. Photoshop 2020 has a feature that does a one-step sky replacement, and this seemed like a good image to experiment on. The sky I used was from an image I took in November of 2019 in the Antelope Valley near the ‘Kill Bill’ church. This image was taken on a Nikon D7200 with a Tamron 18-400mm lens set to 50mm, the aperture set to f/7.1 and the shutter speed set to 1/100. The ISO was set to 400.

I did a straight sky replacement in Photoshop using the Edit/Sky Replacement option and adding my sky to the library. I had made some minor adjustments to the sky using a Camera Raw filter and saving it as a jpg. Interestingly this added a number of layers and did a pretty good job. I then went in with a few tweaks. For the castle, I added a sharpening layer to bring out the stones a bit more. I removed a security camera and its power supply which was in one of the windows. The sky replacement added a curves layer that was supposed to match the colors of the sky with the foreground. I could really see where it was doing much, so I used a little trick I learned from a YouTube video, duplicated the sky layer and applied a Gaussian blur to it with the slider all the way over. I then inverted the mask so it was the sky was masked instead of the castle and changed the blend mode to overlay. This takes the sky colors and applies them to the castle. I then used the opacity to adjust the amount of the effect. I then cropped the image on the top and right. I then applied a denoise filter to the sky, since it seemed a bit noisey.

I also did some minor adjustments to some of the masks where there was some haloing, particularly around the crow in the sky.

I am attaching the original image for reference.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
9 comments posted

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Personally I like this view of the castle much more than the precious image you showed. This image has much greater impact and drama because of the angle of capture. I feel like the dark windows create a face that dare me to even approach the fortress. From this view I will respectfully withdrawn. The image is certainly compelling.

I have so many questions regarding the sky replacement. First, the sky you chose is a good match in tone for the dark castle. My judge's eye sees several issues. First I would be interested knowing the pixel density of both the castle and the sky. The sky seems to have a bit of noise running throughout. The castle appears to be at the 300 count, but the sky seems to be lesser. Do you know the actual pixels per inch of the sky? Then as I look at the image the right side of the castle has the evil telltale halo that gives away the fact that the sky has been replaced.

Even with these issues, the image is still quite powerful and dramatic. I assume you have framed it.

  Posted: 02/09/2021 10:42:51

Bill Peake   Bill Peake
Yeah I did notice the noise, and the halo. The sky is at 300, but is a little stretched so that might by the issue. I did apply a slight Gaussian blur to it but it is still noticeable. I did use Camera Raw to adjust the sky, so that could be the issue. There are some settings on the sky replacement in the new PS that seem to control the halo, but it seems mainly by blurring the mask, which makes a giant blurry light area around the castle, so I need to fool around with it some more. Thanks for the notes, Larry!   Posted: 02/09/2021 22:39:10

Michael Jack   Michael Jack
For me this is a really strong composition. I like the perspective of the tower which makes it more imposing. The bird adds a lot of interest to the image. Your post processing is excellent from my perspective, but I do agree with Larry about the halo on the right side of the castle and noise. Have you tried Topaz DeNoise AI? It is an incredible app. I would consider trying to pull out a bit more detail from the shadows of the walls unless that is really noisy. As I look at this, to me the light on the clouds comes from a different direction than the light on the castle so I would consider lining the lighting up a bit. Just me being anal.   Posted: 02/10/2021 11:36:28
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
You are right Michael. The light does not match. I've looked over the new Photoshop tool for sky replacement but for me it seems to have too many issues when the skyline is not basically smooth. Add a few trees, flowers and the like and you can see the flaws. I also see a light of lighting issues and the angles just do not match very often.

It is a neat idea, but I think I'll be trying to get it right in the camera for a while longer.
But that is just my opinion.   Posted: 02/10/2021 15:21:21

Bill Peake   Bill Peake
I took all your suggestions and made some changes. I don't have Topaz, Michael, but I applied a light Gaussian blur to the sky and then masked all the cloud edges back in. I also applied a horizontal transform to the sky, so the lighting on the clouds more closely matches the lighting on the castle. I found a fairly easy way to eliminate the halo, but as you said Larry, it would be nice if the tool didn't create it in the first place.   Posted: 02/12/2021 00:35:49
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Arne Skinlo   Arne Skinlo
Your picture has a lot of drama. Changing the sky has become easy in PS, but to make it natural is still a challenge. In my opinion, you have succeeded rather well.

My comment is that the sky is taking too much attention from the castle which is the main object. I am not sure if it will work, but you could try to use the mask of the castle and invert it and then darken the original sky. Maybe you get some nice clouds that will give you the dramatic effect you are searching for? Converting to B&W is also an option to consider.   Posted: 02/14/2021 06:14:42

Katherine Wong   Katherine Wong
I like the mysterious mood of this castle. The low angle shot makes it very powerful. Wonder if a vertical cut will bring more focus to the castle and the bird.   Posted: 02/19/2021 10:43:41
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Bill Peake   Bill Peake
Thanks Katherine. I like this treatment!   Posted: 02/23/2021 01:32:34

Richard White   Richard White
Bill, sorry I'm late the party, but Covid 19 caught up with me, and I've been down for two weeks. I like your selection of sky on your second image. The angle of the Balrney Castle if really powerful, with your selection of the sky. Nice work.   Posted: 02/27/2021 13:15:16