Basilica of the Virgin – Valencia, Spain (HDR Vertorama)

Basilica of the Virgin (HDR Vertorama)

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The story of this photo

This is an HDR Vertorama of the Basilica of the Virgin in Valencia, Spain. The full Spanish name is “Real Basi­lica de la Virgen de los Desamparados”.

That day did not start particularly good. When I got up from the breakfast table, my camera dropped on the floor. I am not the person who drops thing often. In fact, I am a bit paranoid about my gear, and I always make sure nothing bad happens to it. On that day three safety systems failed. As a result the camera fell. What a shock to start the day with! Luckily, it suffered only minor damage.

Anyway, I never thought, I would pull off this shot, since, as a result of my confusion after the event with the camera, I only took my 18-200mm lens with me on this trip. In this church, I badly missed my 10-20mm Sigma lens. I took the source shots but thought that the impressive ceiling would fall victim to the cropping after stitching the vertorama. Well, obviously I took those shots precise enough to keep the cropping at a minimum.

While post-processing this shot, I felt more like a mix between a painter and a conservator rather than a photographer. I wondered what this place might have looked like when it was brand new, 600 years ago. So I worked on all the little details, gave back some color to the marble and cleaned the walls from the patina, polished all the golden parts, and renovated the paintings on the ceiling. The people sitting there did not even notice the intensity of this work ;-). I loved every second of it!

So, here you are: The Basilica of the Virgin how it looked 600 years ago… well… kind of, I think!

How it was shot

How it was stitched and tonemapped

  • Created 5 HDRs (32 bit) using Photomatix version 3.1
  • Stitched the 5 HDRs using Photoshop and saved in OpenEXR format
  • Tonemapped resulting panorama HDR using Photomatix version 3.1 (Detail Enhancer)
  • Saved as 16bit TIF
  • Take a look here for a more detailed description.

How it was post-processed

  • Post-processing was done in Photoshop
  • Topaz Adjust on the entire image to get back the colors and the details [details]
  • Topaz Denoise (on the walls and ceiling, on the floor and on the chairs separately with different settings) [details]
  • Color balance layer on the ceiling to shift the colors from red to blue / yellow
  • Saturation layer on the ceiling (master, yellows)
  • Levels layer on the ceiling (increased contrast)
  • Saturation layer on the red marble (master, reds, yellows)
  • Levels layer on the red marble (increased contrast)
  • Saturation layer on the main golden elements (yellows)
  • Saturation layer on the white parts of the walls and the white marble (slight desaturation)
  • Levels layer on the white parts of the walls and the white marble (increased contrast)
  • Saturation layer on the floor (slight desaturation)
  • Saturation layer on the people (decreased master to make skin tones more natural)
  • Saturation layer on the entrances to the left and right (reduction of the blues and cyans to remove a distracting blue shine)
  • Sharpening on the foreground using the high-pass filter [details]
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