Copper Mountain, ColoradoCopper Mountain, Colorado

Sunrise Blend

July 16, 2017

During a weekend trip to Florida last year, I set up on the bridge to Fort Myers Beach over Matanzas Harbor early in the morning.  I liked the view and I thought I would plan out a blending shot of the blue hour and sunrise.

I ended up taking a bunch of different exposures and shots over several hours in the same location.  I wanted to try and get a composition of both the river itself, the buildings on both the left and right, and the boats in the foreground.  What I found most difficult with this setup was forcing myself not to change my mind with the composition.  After running around on that damn bridge, getting different perspectives of the harbor, I settled on a composition, realizing that if I didn't set up soon, I'd miss the blue hour and would be unable to blend it into the sunrise shot if I kept moving around.  I grabbed these frames from Lightroom and took a first pass.

Started off with the sunrise exposure as my base layer.  I liked how the two lines of boats somewhat lead the eye to the sun and the town on the right.  After the sun came up, the building lights turned off, and looked like your typical beach town waiting for its morning coffee before waking up.

The buildings and boats during the blue hour were lit up nicely and gave off a warm glow, so I tried blending this shot into the main base layer.

Finally, I took this layer and blended in some of the sun into the base layer, to take care of some of the sky and sun that was blown out in the original exposure.

Sunrise over Matanzas Harbor, Fort Myers Beach, FloridaSunrise over Matanzas Harbor, Fort Myers Beach, FloridaView of the harbor at sunrise from the bridge going to Fort Myers Beach, Florida

After getting my base blend together, I added some contrast and curves adjustments, and settled on this as a first pass.  The blending might be a little too much for some, but in my opinion I think it captures this sunrise as it transpired over the course of a few hours.  I would have liked to blend in some of the boats from the blue hour into the final shot, but they moved around too much and masking them in proved to be too difficult for my Photoshop skills.

I have a bunch more shots of blue hour which I think look nice, so I'll develop one or two of those next.  I wanted to take an attempt at blending first.  Not sure why, but this Florida set has been sitting in my Lightroom catalog for a long time and it's been bugging me that I haven't finished going through all the pictures yet.  I recently finished a first pass at my Norway collection and the whole time I was going through them, this blend shot was stuck in the back of my mind, unfinished, and driving me nuts.  Glad I got through a first pass at this finally, to maintain my sanity.  I think now I can at least open my catalog from my recent trip to the Czech Republic and Slovakia and try and get through a few of those.

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