Palácio Nacional da Pena – Sintra, Portugal

Palácio Nacional da Pena - Sintra, Portugal

I’ve always liked castles and started collecting a series of castle sculptures several years ago. In a recent expedition to the dark recesses of the basement I unearthed several of them that had been boxed since our last move and thought they’d make good fodder for a post-processing project.

First up is the Palácio Nacional da Pena, or Pena National Palace, in Sintra, Portugal. It was built by King Ferdinand II between 1842 – 1854 around the remains of a 15th century chapel and monastery, and is one of the prime examples of 19th century Romanticism architecture in the world.

For this image, I photographed the castle against a black background, then cut the castle out and blended with a stock sunset image. I duplicated that layer and added a slight Gaussian blur and adjustment layers to reduce contrast and saturation. I added a new layer and pasted in the grungy frame with the blending mode set to multiply and used a layer mask to vary the opacity, then brushed in some additional scratches and grunginess. Then I added a layer at the bottom for the background and used some brushes made from torn paper images to create the ragged edges, and added a drop shadow and inner glow to create the illusion of depth.

For unto you is born this day a Saviour….

Number three in my Christmas Around the House series this year is this small nativity scene.  I photographed it in front of our Christmas tree to take advantage of the bokeh from the tree lights.

For this one, I tonemapped a single exposure in Luminance HDR, then finished it with Topaz Adjust 5’s cross-process filters and a bit of toning and vignette.

Here’s a short homily I found meaningful, so I thought I would share.