The statues at the top of Walhalla Memorial in Regensburg are truly amazing but I believe they are often overlooked. Most people visiting the memorial seem to be drawn to the columns and the sculptures inside. But after spending a great deal of time studying the incredible detail of the statue figures and how the entire piece flows together I knew I wanted to capture it. I had a few things working against me, none of which I could change. First was the time of day. It was noon time, right in the middle of the day and the lighting was dreadful. The sun was directly in front of me but behind the building just peeking out a bit. I was a bit lower than I would have liked. My tripod extends up to about seven feet but at that height, I can’t see what I am shooting. And finally, time was against me. This was the only time on the trip I had available to photograph this place. It was now or never. All of these things were out of my control so I had to work with what I had.
How did you do that?
I’m frequently asked, “How did you do that?” Here’s a quick breakdown on how I went about creating this image. First off this isn’t one image it’s ten images stitched together with Adobe Photoshop.
This is all ten images before they are stitched together.
1. To stitch the images together go to File > Automate > Photomerge. Then Browse to find all of the files to be included.
The images stitched together in layers.
2. Next I merged the layers. Then rotated to level it and finally I cropped the image.
Note: Command + Alt + E — Merges all selected layers into one new layer. Add the Shift modifier to this combo and you’ll get a new layer containing a merged representation of all visible layers.
Press Command-Option-Shift-E (PC: Control-Alt-Shift-E) to create a merged layer at the top of the layer stack.
3. Now that the initial clean up work is done and making sure that that stitched seams are not noticeable its time to dive in and to make the magic happen.
I start by doubling the height of the canvas so I can add the reflection. Go to Image > Canvas Size and enter the new size. When I change the canvas size I make sure to anchor the image to the top.
4. Then I created a new layer filled with 100% black and make it the bottom layer (background).
5. Now I duplicate the original layer, flip it horizontally and move it into the proper position to make it appear as if it were a reflection.
6. The next change to this layer was to switch the Blend Mode to Screen and the Opacity to 50%.
7. Once again I merge all the layers (Command + Alt + E + Shift). By adding a Layer Mask and paint 100% black I mask out the sky on the reflection layer.
Note: On a Layer Mask 100% Black with Reveal the layer under it. 100% white will Hide things below the current layer. Shades of gray in a layer mask change the opacity of the layer.
8. Using NIK Color Efex I add some “Tonal Contrast”.
9. Time for a bit more clean-up to remove the sun flare.
10. I wanted to remove the sky so I created a new layer 100% black and add a layer mask. I painted 100% white where the sky is to mask it out revealing my background layer, which is 100% black.
11. Next I wanted to remove all of the color making this a black & white image. Using NIK Efex > B&W Conversion to achieve this.
12. I noticed that I lost a bit of the reflection on the left side so I duplicated just that area on to a new layer. Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool I selected the area I wanted to copy and pressed Command + J (PC: Control-J) to copy the area to a new layer. Horizontal flip the new layer, move it into place and finally change the layer Opacity to 60%. The step here was to create a Layer Mask and blend the layer in by hiding the edges.
13. I wanted a slight bit more texture, to accomplish this I once again turned to NIK Efex’s “Tonal Contrast”.
14. I wanted to add little more light and shadow to some of the areas of the image so I created two new layers with a fill of 50% gray and changed the Blend Mode to Soft Light for both layers. One of the layers would be used to lighten areas in image this would be the Dodge layer and the other layer would darken areas in the image, the Burn layer.
On the Dodge layer I painted with white in the areas I wanted a bit lighter. After playing with the layers opacity a bit I was pleased with it at 20%. Next on to the Burn layer, on this layer I used just black to darken the area behind the sculptures. Opacity for this layer ended up at 40%.
Like most things in Photoshop there are a number of ways to accomplish a task. I could have used Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools to achieve to same results. But by doing it this way I have complete control over the final results.
Note: The dodge tool lightens the pixels you paint, and the burn tool darkens the pixels you paint. The difference is that you are not applying the changes to the entire image; you’re applying them only to the places you paint with the brushes.
15 . Using Command + Alt + E + Shift will merge all the layers into a new layer preserving all of the other layers in the event I need to go back and make any changes.