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Photographer's Note

In Katoomba, behind Scenic World (with the Scenic Skyway, Scenic Cableway and Scenic Railway) there is a walking path down into Jamison Valley. Along the way there is a lookout called Juliet’s Balcony. This panorama of the Katoomba Falls was put together from shots taken from this location. This is looking to the left from the balcony. To the right there is a very good view of The Three Sisters.

On this falls there are two main drops, the upper & lower, along with cascades for an overall descent of roughly 800 feet. What is very apparent as you descend into the valley, and you can see in this shot, is the very dynamic change in climatic environment. This was taken in April, on the top it was hot and dry, with descent into this valley it very quickly cools down and the humidity levels increased quite substantially. In the shot you can see a very dramatic change in light levels and colour of the vegetation. Members of TE may see this better in the large post.

Workflow was as follows:
For the shot; Katoomba Falls is a very tall, and narrow set of waterfalls. To do it right I decided when I was shooting it, that it had to be a panorama. The angle and position of the shot is based on available observation (I squeezed onto the far right side of Juliet’s Balcony to get as much “straight on” angle as possible.) In the end I was thrilled with the position. I shot (bracketed) 4 series of pictures and decided on this set at process time.

The biggest difference between this and most of my other panoramas is that I did this one manually rather than using the Photoshop auto merge process – I now find this much easier, quicker, and can achieve better results in the end – I first tried this process with my picture of the USS Kitty Hawk, and don’t expect I’ll go back to the original method any time soon.

Shots were taken in RAW and processed together, then saved as separate tiff files
A new blank canvas was created, large enough to hold the merged separate files – the separate files were transferred as layers to the new file
In the larger file an overlay layer was added and brushed with a 50% opacity white brush to add lots of extra light to help with the merge
Alignments were completed – easier this way then with the automated merge program as it was much lighter, and I was able to zoom in to full size to help with the alignment (individual leaves as an example could be seen) – the alignment was also assisted by changing the opacity level of the upper layer being aligned – (Note: even though this is a vertical panorama, for the alignment I flipped it 90 degrees to the horizontal to help myself with the alignment, then flipped it back when done.)
Once alignment was achieved then a layer mask was added to the upper layer, and the edge was brushed with 30% opacity black brush to ensure proper blending
Cropped to leave clean panorama
Overlay layer, used to add light, was deleted
Remaining layers were flattened to leave one file with one layer (still 16 bit)
Work could progress now as if it was a normal shot
Adjusted levels
Adjusted curves for contrast
Added contrast layer +3 as a final tweek
Added an overlay layer and dodged and burned with 10% opacity black and white brush
Added saturation layer +15 to master
Added a layer for sharpening with USM
Modified sharpening with a layer mask (30% opacity black brush) – mostly toned down the water, and the trees on top
Saved as a tiff
For this post, cropped, resized, sharpened edges on original USM layer, framed and saved the large post as a jpeg
Backed up to the pre-framed large post, resized down to the post size, framed and saved as a jpeg.

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Additional Photos by John Plumb (JPlumb) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 710 W: 158 N: 1008] (3159)
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