As photographers, we are always told to capture the best images in camera followed by modest enhancements made in software to create the final masterpiece. As much as I subscribe to this theory, there are times when the conditions are simply not conductive to creating great content. This is when understanding how to unleash the creative powers of your post-processing software can salvage an image that might never see the light of day.
Case in point - I recently spent the Thanksgiving Holiday in Indianapolis with my wife at the JW Marriott Hotel which was constructed at the request of the NFL prior to hosting the 2012 Superbowl. Unfortunately, mother nature was unaware of my arrival and did not choose to cooperate but I managed to make a few images while dodging the raindrops. The extremely overcast conditions provided very poor light leaving nothing worthwhile to be immediately captured. Observing the abundance of cloud cover, I decided to apply a 10 stop ND filter to capture a long exposure. The lack of any gaps in the clouds provided very little contrast thereby failing to reveal any streaking during the 40 second exposure. Not to mention the movement of the clouds was very slow. Now time to make a decent photograph from this mediocrity.
The image was imported into lightroom CC and converted to black and white. Mild sharpening and noise removal were done and then imported into photoshop. After duplicating the layer, a selection was made around the clouds using the quick selection tool. The clouds were then placed on their own layer. Using the path blur tool, the cloud streaks were made more distinctive and angled for better orientation with the building. The exposure was lowered to bring out more details in the clouds. After saving the image back into lightroom, some dodging and burning was done to create more contrast while completing the image with a heavy vignette.