Crozon Dreams – Some Novel Ideas

Crozon Dreams

Of all the splendid locations I visited on the Breton coast, the Crozon peninsula in Finistere would have to be my favourite. Think majestic cliff top walks, fascinating rock stack formations and beautiful sandy beaches. There are also some really charming seaside villages like Le Fret and Caramet-Sur-Mer in case all that is not yet idyllic enough for you.

The photo I’m featuring today is from one of locations I photographed several times on the Presqu’Ile de Crozon. It looks a bit picture postcard perfect compared to my usual style, but technically it was one of the more difficult photos to pull off. These pink flowers are sea thrift which are actually very small in size. To obtain a perspective whereby I could show them in detail, a very low perspective was used, with my camera only a few inches away from the nearest flowers. Live view mode was used to compose the photo since it was impractical to do so with the camera almost on the ground.

The main problem to consider here was depth of field. It’s basically impossible to get everything in adequate focus when you have a subject within one foot of the lens and another at infinity even with a wide angle lens at f22. I’m not normally a practitioner of multiple exposure blending but it was absolutely necessary on this occasion for focus and depth of field, rather than the usual reason of dynamic range. It’s possible to take numerous frames with different focus points and hand blend them together for the best results. I decided to keep things simple, just using two focus points, the foreground flowers and the cliffs. I kept the aperture of f13 and shutter speed of 1/6 the same in both exposures. A graduated neutral density filter was used in both frames as I find blending two images with similar light levels easier to obtain a seamless result.

The other benefit of being able to use a larger aperture than trying to use f22 for a single exposure was that it allowed me to use a faster shutter speed. Fortunately the wind was not overly troublesome that day, allowing me to catch a few frames at 1/6 without any movement of the flowers.

I’m including a second interpretation of the same scene on a different sunset. On that occasion I had the tripod set up fully upright and capturing the scene was straight forward with all the elements in focus at f11.

Crozon in Pastel

A Couple of Novel Approaches

Coming back to the original photo titled “Crozon Dreams”, I thought I would mention two aspects of processing that might be unusual to most people. The first is regarding how I blended the two frames I took at different focus points. The technique is really simple. In the image where the flowers were sharp, I cropped the top half, removing the out-of-focus cliffs. I did the opposite for the image with the cliffs in focus, cropping away the foreground flowers. Since I had used f13 for each exposure, the mid ground was adequately sharp in both photos. Using the photomerge function in photoshop which is normally used to stitch panoramas, I automated the blending process and voila – a seamless result! I’ve attached some crops at 100% to show the cliffs and flowers both nice and sharp.

The second technique I used that’s a little different is the way I took care of chromatic aberration. When you use the lens correction mode in photoshop or other methods to remove CA, they often result in some mild softness and defocused areas which nobody wants. The major problem in this photo was cyan fringing. Fortunately the areas surrounding the CA didn’t contain any cyan which made it the ideal candidate for this alternative technique. I created an adjustment layer where I desaturated the cyan channel and painted over the areas affected. Obviously this won’t work if you have a photo where there are cool tones surrounding the cyan fringing but if you’re sick of having to deal with detail loss and softness after using the lens correction feature, this may come in handy.

Cyan Fringing

CA removed

This entry was posted in Brittany, France, Journal, Landscape, Postcapture, Technique. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Crozon Dreams – Some Novel Ideas

  1. Those are some nifty flowers you were able to use as foreground there. Very cool setup, Kah Kit. Really digging your comps high on these cliffs with some nice warm light thrown in as well.

    • kahkityoong says:

      Thanks David. Cliff top shooting is really challenging composition wise. Getting a sense of depth, height and retaining an appropriate sense of scale front to back require careful attention to composition. Even though there is ocean, these are best approached as mountain landscapes rather than seascapes.

  2. Hi Kah,
    Nice images from this beautiful location.
    I was wondering: are you 100% sure that the auto-blend in CS is working? No strange artifacts in the middleground where the two different focus planes are merged? Which version of CS are you working?

    Second: from the crop where the CA is removed I can still see some of it, especially where the seastack intercepts the horizon. I would say that a better approach is using LR removing the CA in the raw. I discovered that to better find CA the image should be magnified to 300%.

    • kahkityoong says:

      Giovanni, the auto-blend has worked for me the few times I’ve tried it. As it should since it needs to be able to put together panoramas seamlessly. This is the same thing except I’m forcing the the program to join the parts at a certain point. There was a small error near the edge which disappeared after cropping for tilt anyway. The ideal way to do this would have been to hand blend fore, mid and background focus points. At 200%, you can tell that there is some small areas of midground softness which I found acceptable. Of course there will be landscapes where this technique will work better than others. The trick is to use enough depth of field to make sure the midground is in focus which is why I used f13.

      Yes there is some CA remaining even quite visible at 100% and removal at the RAW stage is always a good idea.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I like the approach for the focusstacking, using the panoramic methods of photoshop. Hadn’t thought about this, always doing mask painting. But I’ll try is :-)

    For CA I usually like to remove it in LR and I think it’s very good there. My impression is the photo looks sharper with CA removed that way and I can do a cleaner sharpening later, than if I had just desaturating the fringes. But that’s just personal taste.


  4. Dylan Toh says:

    Great read Kah Kit :) I strongly advocate your method of removing CA – works a treat and doesn’t alter the dimensions of the image which other automated methods can do.

  5. Rafael Rojas says:

    Great article and photos Kah Kit. That place stirs so many memories to me…When I visited it, I barely knew how to use a (film) tacky camera I had, but I enjoyed Brittany so much. And then, it was one of those first trips I made with my girlfriend…who today is my lovely wife. I must reckon that even if my photographer eye was still in the womb at that time, I was particularly struck by the Presqu’île de Crozon…And the crêpes, sure!
    Fantastic work mate. It is really funny, you guys dream with Europe and here, we dream with Australasia!! :)

    • kahkityoong says:

      I guess it was natural that at some stage I would discover France. I learnt the language for 6 years during high school. Then I became distracted by Italy on my first trips to Europe. Then Scotland and the UK. I think I ate crepes almost daily while in Bretagne.

  6. Alistair McNaughton says:

    A really interesting article, I would never have thought to use that technique of focus stacking.
    lovely photo – I can’t wait to get to France someday shame it is so far from NZ. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Alister Benn says:

    Great little mini tutorial, focus and exposure blending are the cutting edge of contemporary landscape photography. It’s great to be part of this wave. Among us, we are creating a fresh look to landscape images, that rely heavily on technology and vision in equal doses to make the magic happen…

    Great work, as always.

  8. It seems your picture is from the Pointe de Pen Hir, isn’t it? If so, it is a very nice capture, less classic than those who include the “tas de pois”.
    Also, you were lucky and had better weather than I, even though I went to this area several times.

    I have been to Brittany this Summer and visited areas around the pink granite coast (Côtes d’Armor) like Ploumanach and Plougrescant, that also offer very nice photo opportunities.

    Also, your image blending technique is very interesting. This way, moving details such as the flowers do not overlap each other.

    • kahkityoong says:

      Yes, it’s Pen-Hir. I don’t believe anyone has used this particular composition before, but there are plenty of possibilities in the area. I used to the blending for depth of field rather than for movement although that is another reason one could use the same technique. I also visited Ploumanach and Plougrescant. The geology there is almost exactly the same as the pink granite one finds on the east coast of Tasmania, particularly in Freycinet national park, which coincidentally has a French name.

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