A striking sunset picture of St Michael’s Church in Mere, Wiltshire – how I got the image and how I processed the image in Lightroom

 St Michael's Church in Mere by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer in Wiltshire
St Michael’s Church in Mere by Rick McEvoy Architectural Photographer in Wiltshire

I wasn’t in Mere photographing the church.

No – I was photographing some buildings for an architect.

I was awaiting for the sun to drop over the horizon for some dusk shots. I was stood there literelly by the side of the road waiting for it to go dark. I wanted some shots at dusk with the lights on in the houses – makes buildings look nice and homely.

The sun was taking its time…

So I looked around and the highest thing in Mere I could see was the bell tower on St Michael’s Church.

And the sun was warming the rear elevation of the tower, which I could see from where I was stood waiting – waitnig in the shadows.

I quickly put my gear in my car and drove over there, parked up and started taking photos of the rear elevation of the lovely stone tower.

As I moved around the church a beam if sun appeared amongst the tres, and this was the last shot I managed to get with the bright sun and all the colours in the sky.

This was such a lovely scene, a fleeting moment that lasted just a few minutes and then was gone.

I captured this scene using my Canon 6D with Canon 17-40mm F4 L lens mounted on my Manfrotto tripod.

The image capture was actually three bracketed exposures, the first the correct exposure, one two stops over expossed and one shot two shots under exposed.

I like working like this. It is called bracketing.

Below is the RAW image, the correctly exposed one with all image processing stripped out. This is a RAW file. Dull, flat, colourless, no contest. Boring.

But look what you can do with a couple of RAW images and the wonder that is Lightroom and Photoshop.

To get the image at the top I started by merging the under and over exposed photographs together in Lightroom, creating a single dng file (you don’t need the correctly exposed image if you are doing this – it makes no difference).

As I took the picture from a very low angle I had to correct the verticals in Lightroom, then add back in the bits that were missing from Photoshop. But before I did this I carried out global adjustments using the Basic and HSL panels in Lightroom.

Once I had an image I was happy with I corrected the verticals in the transform panel, but unchecked the box “constrain crop”. This meant that the area of the picture that I would have lost were left as blank areas with no information, but I had all of the building and the sky I wanted in the picture. If I had let the transform panel do the crop as well so the remaining image filled the screen I would have lost a big part of the foreground, which I did not want. And some of the church too.

Here is the image that I had to rebuild in Photoshop, which is still a miracle to me that this can be done.

I use the clone stamp tool and patch tool, then tidied things up with the spot removal tool and bit more cloning and patch work (is that a correct term?) as required.

A quick tip if you are doing this is to make sure there are no recurring features.

The work does not have to be perfect, but it does need to be realistic and believable. If someone looks at your photograph and thinks it looks artificial then I guess you have failed.

And for completeness this is how the scene looked as captured on my iPhone 7 Plus.

Rick McEvoy Photography – Architectural Photographer in Wiltshire

Rick McEvoy

I am Rick McEvoy, an architectural and construction photographer living and working in the South of England. I create high quality architectural photography and construction photography imagery of the built environment for architects and commercial clients. I do not photograph weddings, families, small people or pets - anything that is alive, moves or might not do as I ask!! I am also the creator of the Photography Explained Podcast, available on all major podcast providers. I have a blog on my website where I write about my work and photography stuff. Rick McEvoy ABIPP, MCIOB

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