Castle in the Clouds
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This image began as a long exposure of waves crashing over the rocks in the sea at Bodega Head beach in the Sonoma Coast state park.
Above the original shot I added a layer of clouds, whose blend mode was simply set to multiply and opacity of 75%. This caused the clouds to appear only where the waves had been because due to the long exposure, the waves were mostly white.
I then added in the two castles and the bridge from stock photos. I used the "Match Color" adjustment to get the tones to match, and then did some manual tweaking of levels and curves to get the brightness to match. I used very slight gaussian blur to adjust the focus of these elements.
Then I added in the 4 mountain goats.
Then, using various Photoshop brushes, I painted in the birds.
Next I added in the waterfall. Part of that came from a stock photo of a waterfall and the rest was hand painted in using my wacom tablet and some custom brushes.
The final piece was the fog layer which I used to create the white vignette. For this layer I used a solid white layer, then created a mask to which I applied a simple black-to-white radial gradient, the strands filter, blurred it, used ocean ripple, ripple and wave flters to distort it, then blurred some more and adjusted the opacity.
Total project time for this was two sessions about 6 hours in all.