Cologne - Rilind Hoxha

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Second Chance

A second chance || Cologne, Germany

Having celebrated 5 years of being dedicated to the biggest passion of my life - photography; I have set out on a short trip. Ironically, my first stop was Germany, Cologne, where last year on a visit to Photokina every piece of my photography gear was stolen. It was an interesting and an exciting coincidence to start my sixth year of photography!

Besides having ‘terrible’ memories from my last trip, Cologne is a beautiful city located on both sides of the Rhine River, which offers great places and landmarks for photographers. It was my first day in Cologne, I arrived quite early and after having a short break, I immediately decided to take my gear, go out and explore. Even though I was extremely happy and excited to be back, the weather was not in sync with my emotions. One moment it was warm and sunny and cheerful, next thing you know, it’s pouring rain! It was very difficult to capture a certain composition in such weather and I had to move around a lot. Nevertheless, toward the end of the day, the weather seemed to calm down and the sun came out. I met with my friend and fellow photographer (Felix) and since we saw the improvements in the sky, we decided to go up the Cologne Tower which is the second tallest building in the city and it provides an incredible view of the Cologne Cathedral and the skyline of Cologne’s Old Town.

We arrived there just before sunset, set up our tripods and the magic began. The sunset was simply stunning! The sky was changing, clouds moving, colors appearing! I am extremely happy with the composition and how the pictures came out, especially knowing that unlike last time (due to the theft); I am able to share this beauty with you.

Even though I did 7 bracketed shots, I ended up using only the lightest 4 for the base and one of -2EV for certain parts of the sky, where it was very overexposed, in order to get out some details. Starting in Lightroom, I straightened the image, removed the chromatic aberration, sharpened it a little bit, added some noise reduction and fixed dust spots. Here is a video of how I do that:

All of that was manually blended in photoshop, by using different selective techniques such as luminosity mask, free hand brushing, color range and etc. After I was done with the blending, I tried to enhance the glow, by applying Orton effect and with the help of dodge and burn tools. In the end, I finished the editing process with a small touch by Color Efex Pro. It is a great tool and I highly recommend downloading it for all the guys that use photoshop. It’s an awesome plugin together with the rest from Nik Software.

I must admit, it’s one of my favorite image of all times

Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

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