On the surface this image was fairly difficult to process in Lightroom and I will for sure have to take it into Photoshop CS3, to get the best results. The foreground of the image is in a very deep shadow and the sky was very bright. I did expose for the brighter part of the scene as much as possible, so that I would have a chance of using the picture, but I still had to use almost all the Basic tools in Lightroom to pull out an acceptable image.
First the sky - I used the localized version of the Tone Curve tool and dragged the highlight of the blue part of the sky down by a value of -99.
Fill Light - to bring out the shadow area in the image I used a value of 51.
Recovery - to lessen the overall effect of the fill light I used a value of 74.
Blacks - I added just a little bit of black for realizm, a value of 5.
Clarity - a full value of 100 to neutralize the flattening effect of the fill light
Saturation - not too much but enough to punch up the picture, value of +21.
On the other hand this picture tells another story all together. My nine year old son Man and I have been visiting this open air place of Buddhist worship since before he could walk. We hadn’t been here in a while and I though it was about time to pay respect to the mountain and to the Buddha who lived engraved on his side once again.
I have literally hundreds of images of my son at this temple and he has always been in great spirits during our visits, saying a prayer to the Buddha and leaving some money for the upkeep of the grounds. I remember that both his mother and I were really surprised when he insisted on leaving money in the donation box on one of his very first visits (I had to lift him up to the top of the box so he could put the money in).
On this particular trip we came upon a new prayer spot and were surprised by a small crocodile that darted across our path and dove into the pond at the base of the mountain. I am not sure how the crocodile got here, it was probably bought as a pet when it was a baby and released here to stay with the Buddha when it got too big.
The 109 meter high Buddha image itself was projected onto the side of the Khao Chi Chan mountain with a laser light, traced with chalk by mountain climbers and then blasted along the drawn lines, to create the grooves for the golden inlay. The Royal Thai Navy and Marines guard and maintain the site.
This image taken on the same day and at the same location had pretty good portrait lighting and did not require any adjustments in Lightroom (OK I added a little Clarity). There is also not that much of a story. This was taken on a path coming back down from the Buddha shrine (behind my back), on which I have photographed my son many times before over the last nine and a half years.
His mother says he is funny looking in this picture, but that is because I am using a 12-24mm Nikkor DX lens at 12mm and very close up, so I can get as much of his smile as possible (missing teeth and all) into the image. Once again visiting the Buddha at Khao Chi Chan has had it’s magical effect on Man.