Chasing Rays Blog

The Ashton Memorial

Image Processing: The Ashton Memorial

We had a half-hour before we were due at my brother’s house for my nephew’s family birthday meet. We were early, and no-one was at their house, so we decided to have a short wander around the nearby Williamson Park, and in particular go up to the Ashton Memorial.
"We had half an hour to kill, and decided to go to the Ashton Memorial…"

Today, the Ashton Memorial is used as a function house for weddings and such.

It is the high point – both literally and metaphorically – of Williamson Park (I hasten to add the other facilities and the Butterfly House are very good as well), but it’s history is quite sad, being originally commissioned by Lord Ashton as a memorial to his late wife.

I went with only some basic kit. It was all I had with me at the time.

We went past the open-air theatre (see the mini-gallery below) in the small wooded area around the entrance of the park, and made our way around to the top and rear of the Memorial.

It was an overcast day, and the sky was near a uniform light grey, giving a very flat, even light across the entirety of my compositions, as you can see in this example:

So: no filters, just a camera and a 24-70 mm lens. The images were, predictably, a bit bland under general setting adjustments in Lightroom. How to spice things up a bit?

I decided on a dramatic sky, with a punch in clarity for the detail of the Memorial itself. Clearly, the sky needed to come down in exposure, and needed extra contrast. This required use of the local adjustments brush. In fact, on playing around with the settings, Adobe Lightroom‘s new ‘Dehaze’ function proved very useful in bringing the sky to a manageable, balanced exposure with the rest of the image to give the ‘dramatic storm coming’ look to these images.

The settings ultimately don’t really matter – you play around to taste.

Some might say it looks a bit like an HDR. I suppose in some ways it is, but really, it doesn’t use this technique at all. I feel that this is achieved somewhat because I used the automask feature of the local adjustment brush. I later discovered that this left a halo around the Memorial against the sky, the halo being characteristic of (overdone, in my opinion) HDR photomerges.

However, I didn’t mind this so much, and it wasn’t – to my eye – as blatant as overdone HDR. And most importantly, all the information recovered is in a single, original RAW file.

So, there you have it. Local adjustments in the sky to bring down its exposure value, and a boost to the image clarity, plus a bit of general colour boost, can produce quite dramatic images in those situations when you don’t have the kit to do it in camera (and, indeed, even when you have). Have a play around with the before and after above to see the end results of this process.

I’ve also got a few other images from the day in my mini-gallery. Hope you enjoy them.

All the best,

Chasing Rays Photography.




Hardware Used


About the Author

Mark Watkins

Mark WatkinsI've been a photographer since 2006 and a computer fanatic since 1995. I hope to share my passion for photography with you through the products and services I offer through my website. See me on Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedInView all posts by Mark Watkins →

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