It isn’t often that I would choose to shoot through a window, especially one made up of several layers, some plastic, and not all that clean. But when the alternative is sitting on the wing of a Boeing 737 at over twenty thousand feet, I took Option A.
This photo out the side window of a United Airlines flight as I returned from a short trip to Playa del Carmen Mexico. Some great clouds were floating by below the aircraft as we continued to climb out of the Cancun airport and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a shot.
Straight out of Camera RAW file.
Canon 6D & EF 17-40L F4 @ 24mm focal length, f/7.1, ISO 100 – 1/160 sec shutter.
Of the dozen or so photos I took out this side window through the course of the trip, this was my favorite. The ridge of clouds in the lower right of frame and just enough wispy clouds above provided interest and context for the wing shot. I could have done without the wing being 2/3 in shadow, but couldn’t exactly kindly ask the pilot to turn around so I could get full sun. Next time I’ll have to take time of day into my decision on what side of the aircraft to sit on.
As always with my post processing, I start in Lightroom. First with a few minor general adjustments:
Warm/Cool White balance Adjustment up to 6167
+.05 EV & +8 Contrast (probably part of the initial ‘Auto’ Tone adjustment.
-36 Highlights, +100 Shadows, +43 Whites, -21 Blacks
+36 Clarity, +17 Vibrance
+39 sharpening w/ 1.2 Radius, 25 Detail and 29 Masking. Noise Reduction was minimal with an already clean 100 ISO image, only +19 on that, detail at 50, contrast at 0.
Lastly, all Lens Corrections enabled to correct CA and distortion.
Finally, with the adjustment brush, I paint in another +.36EV of exposure adjustment into the shadow region of the wing.
Not a big difference between the SOOC and the Lightroom adjusted version, the most obvious difference is the lighter region of the wing. However that changes quickly once the photo I move into Nik Color Efex Pro 4.
Those who have read any of my other Show and Tell posts know I have a few go-to effect filters. Some fall in-and-out of favor, or at least how strongly I apply them, however some are tried and true winners for a large majority of my photos.
This photo started with a very lightly applied ‘Detail Enhancer‘ filter, at only 12% strength it was still plenty to add a lot of detail to both the wing and the clouds. As often the case, I used control points to reduce the opacity of the effect to 0 in the blue sky. Trying to add detail to plain blue sky only introduces noise, so being selective with this filter is an important step in producing as high of quality image as possible.
The second filter was Pro Contrast, this one gets applied to almost every photo I process in Nik Color Efex. A few clicks to dial in the correct amount of contrast adjustment can really make an image pop. It can get too much quite quickly, especially with primary contrast slider, allowing details in clouds to disappear, so either moderate application and/or control points to selectively adjust the opacity is necessary. In this image I kept the overall contrast to around the 15% mark, but dialed up the ‘Dynamic Contrast’ to 30% for localized pop (similar effect to Clarity in Lightroom).
Very lightly applied and dialed down opacity on filters: Photo Sylizer ‘Varitone’ and ‘Cross Processing’ finished warming up the image and providing the color tone adjustments seen in the final edit below. The upper region of the sky had darkened a tad too much for my liking, so when back in Lightroom a pair of gradient filters are added to the top 20% of the image, with around +.29 EV exposure adjustment..