Hampton Court: image of turbulence

Hampton Court Palace: a statement of power, a symbol of intrigue and downfall.

It is one of my favourite places – not just for the building, although it is magnificent; not just for the history, although it spans centuries; not just for the beauty of the interiors and artworks, although a lifetime would not be enough to appreciate them.

I love the essence of its story, from the lads fetching and carrying in the kitchens, the nobles clattering across cobblestones, fishmongers shouting rounded oaths through Fish Court, to the long galleries and state apartments with their richly decorated wall hangings.

On a visit there four years ago I took many photographs of the roof-line and chimneys that are a unique feature of the palace. I wanted to manipulate some of these to create an image to reflect the turbulence that it had witnessed. This is how I went about it:

  • Having selected these three photographs I imported them into Photoshop Elements to make a single composition.
  • I cropped the chimneys in the third photo.
  • Using layers I arranged the three images: roof line at rear, chimneys in the middle and to the far left, entrance facade to the fore.
  • Using the ‘lighting’ menu I reduced the contrast on the roof line layer.
  • Using the ‘colour’ menu I changed the entrance layer from colour to black and white then increased the contrast in the ‘lighting’ menu.
  • Using the ‘magic eraser’ I removed the sky in the entrance layer and in the roof line layer, but leaving the sun.
  • Using ‘hue and saturation’ adjustments in the ‘colour’ menu I played around with the colour effects on the chimneys layer. The ‘magic selector’ makes it possible to select a particular working area for adjustment.
  • As the ‘sun’ I wanted was under the ‘sky’ layer I used the ‘background eraser’ to reveal it.
  • Lastly I selected the foreground of the top layer and tweaked the ‘hue and saturation’ to reflect the sky.
Final image

A stage-set, a mere facade, belying what was going on behind the beauty and the grandeur. Towering and threatening, dark and menacing secrets rise up to overturn this delicate balance. Above, nature itself is ablaze with incongruities while below the shadows dart off in all directions.

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Thank you for reading.