I came upon this stone wall on a recent trip to the Blanchard Springs Caverns Recreation Area, which is located in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest about 2-1/2 hours north-northeast of Little Rock. While stone walls are not uncommon, most of the ones I see are very short or in some state of disrepair. This wall, however, was well cared for and was over 800 feet long. It was that incredible length that I wanted to convey.
The morning I took this, it was extremely foggy. As I was driving, there were areas where I couldn’t see more than 50 to 75 feet in front of me. However, while the fog would provide a sense of depth as the wall seemed to disappear into the white shroud, I also knew that the sky would present a problem as it would appear as a white, featureless expanse that would be very distracting visually and need to be addressed later in Photoshop.
Compositionally and technically, this was an easy photograph to make. I positioned my camera approximately a foot and a half from the wall and, using a small aperture, focused about eight feet into the frame to ensure complete depth of field. I made sure the wall and grass area was properly exposed. I didn’t worry about the sky being overexposed because I knew I would be replacing it.
When I got home, the image was as I had imagined, including the white, featureless sky. I opened my folder of sky photographs and found one that matched the overall lighting and mood of the image. When replacing the sky in a photograph, it is critical that the replacement sky matches the lighting of the picture or it simply won’t look believable. In this instance, the lighting is subdued because of the thick fog, so a bright blue sky with fluffy clouds would not look right.
To replace the sky, I copied and pasted the sky picture onto the photograph of the wall and, in the blend mode drop down menu, selected “Multiply.” This blended the two images into a single photograph. Then, using the brush tool, I removed the portion of the sky that was overlaying the wall and grassy area. Finally, I lightened the sky slightly using the Levels dialog box.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk IV, 32mm, 1/4 sec, f/22