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Dead calm at sea | by Gael Varoquaux
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Dead calm at sea

No wind, but the atmosphere is heavy. A storm is maybe coming.

 

I took this picture sailing with friends. There was absolutely no wind, but the heavy atmosphere and the dark sky was created by post-processing.

  

In terms of composition, it is a somewhat simple layout, with the horizon line dividing the picture close to a two-third split, in a way used by many artists, such as Rothko who painted large flat regions. Was also inspired by work from Wolfgang Tillmans, including sea photographies. Finally, the atmosphere is also reminiscent of the cover of the album "What We All Come Need" by the "Pelican" rock band.

 

To obtain the effect that I was interested in, I did very heavy post-processing on this pictures, all in darktable as usual. I created a strong division in the image around the horizon line, darkening and desaturating strongly the upper part of the sky, and making the horizon line white. On the sea, I augmented a lot the contrast and the local contrast, but I keep the deep blue color, to create an almost-monochrome feeling. Technically, I used a mix of local contrast enhancement and tone curve filters, with masks made of gradients to select different parts of the foreground, the sea, and the sky. I applied the strong local contrast enhancement filter in the horizontal middle of the image, but not on the side, to create a framing effect. I also cropped part of the sky, which was all dark, and used imagemagick to rescale the image in the vertical direction: I wanted to obtain a 16:10 aspect ratio, and I wanted the horizon line to be around two-thirds of the picture.

 

Fun fact: there is a bird flying close to the horizon on the left. I didn't notice it when taking the picture.

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Uploaded on June 2, 2017