Natural History Museum

The last stop that Jim and I made on Sunday was to the Natural History Museum. I had seen many photos of this place, but never taken the time to actually get there and photograph it. My plan was to arrive quite late, and stay until they kicked us out – hopefully getting this area as free of people as possible. However, we got there an hour earlier than expected, and it was just full of visitors – as you would expect.

This image took quite a lot of work to get rid of all of the people that were in it, so I’ll go through the brief process below – starting with showing you the 5 images that this one is composed of.
It was daylight, and I was hoping to blur people out as much as possible so I took 5 exposures using my B&W 10 stop filter at 30 seconds apiece. Here are the 5 resulting images:

After 5 shots I figured there would be enough movement below for me to work with and mask where needed. Not quite the case, some people are happy to stand around for 3 minutes and others were sat on seats beside the stairs, not going anywhere.

I loaded the layers up in Photoshop CS6 and did a lot of masking and a little bit of cloning and a little bit of healing. I removed pretty much all of the people, as well as the camel and dinosaur tail from the bottom of the image. I also removed the sign at the foot of the stairs. Repairing the benches at the side of the stairs would have been too difficult for a man of my skill so I removed these as well.

Here’s the resulting image with most things removed:

I tonemapped this final image in Photomatix and returned it to CS6 for more processing. First up, I wanted to straighten it all out so used the perspective crop tool to straighten up the columns near the viewer followed by sharpening the image as a whole. Next was the Color Efex plugin by Nik Software where I applied some tonal contrast, pro contrast and a bleach bypass – the latter I set to a luminosity blending of about 40%.

After this I put the image into Perfect Effects by OnOneSoftware and used the Autumn filter to bring a more golden glow around the windows, brushing this in where I wanted it (I further enhanced this back in Color Efex using a summer filter), and this was followed by the Dreamland filter to darken up the doorways beside the stairs. I did this a little further using a black brush as well; I liked the fact it turned to darkness, plus it cleaning up the fact people were in there in the original images.

I’m pretty pleased with the end result in all.

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