Running Ronin

The Roman Trident

Have you ever been in Rome? Have you ever been to Piazza del Popolo? If so, looking north and away from the obelisk, you will see three roads, adventurer...
Which one will you choose?

(Picture above was made out of a very long process, explained far below).

You must choose carefully. So make your choice!
If you went left: you entered Via del Babuino - a few suggestions:
  • Stick to the sidewalk unless you have italian blood, you are not immune to traffic and you do not possess "avoid cars" and "dodge mopeds" skill. 
  • While on the sidewalk, do not let the allure of the store displays break your concentration. No looking at Prada, Gucci or Riccardo... you must keep your eyes to the ground and avoid all the dog poop Italians leave as traps for tourists.
  • To the left you shall see your safe haven: Via di Margutta... enter this pedestrian only area, visit the art stores and eat at some extremely fine restaurants before jumping back into the Chaos of Via del Babuino.
If you went to the right, you entered... via di Ripetta...big mistake Roll a D20.
  • With a score of 15 or above it is raining, a moped hit a pothole full of water and gave you a mud shower.
  • With a score of 8 to 14, you have been hit by a car while crossing on the zebra crossing. You will be transported to the nearest hospital, where they will say you have a minor concussion, then order an EEG and not release you till you got it (10 days later). - true story.
  • With a score of 2-7 you entered Pizza Re, thinking it was a great pizzeria, only to find out that there are Alien eggs in the pizza, and it will keep on growing in your stomach for the rest of the week. Seriously, not all pizzerias in Italy are great. Do yourself a favor, avoid this one.
  • With a score of 1, a very beautiful lady will grind to a halt while you are crossing in front of her, slowly extend her left hand from the window of her Mercedes SLK, and with an unnaturally low baritone voice tell you: "Li Mortacci Tua!" Which is a way Italians use to insult all your ancestors (literally from "l'anima dei tuoi morti" which means "the souls of your dead ones" - aka ancestors).
If you chose the center, you will need to wait for the next episode of "Rome for D20 Nerds", as I'm moving on to talk about my photos.

Far above you can see my final panoramic output, I will repeat it here:

This was made out of three HDR photos. That means I took, three photos of the left side (via del Babuino), three of the right side (via di Ripetta) and three of the churches and the central street (via del Corso), then I did the HDR thing. What happened at that point is that I had three photos I needed to stitch together...
At this point you need (cause I demand it!) Photoshop.

Use Adobe Bridge, select the three photos, then perform the following command:


Select "Auto" then press OK. Photoshop will load the three photos into layers, then stitch them together - like this:

You can start seeing the issues in this photo already here... the sky changes dramatically from left to right - and it becomes darker over the church to the left. It gets worse once the HDR process is complete and you've cropped the photo, like below.

The original stitched and cropped HDR...

You can see how the sky gets funkier and funkier. This is when I decided I was NOT happy with the classic HDR process, and went  Ye Olde Battle LA Bus way - that is, I started acting like a mad scientist with Topaz.

As a first step, I gave a detailed painted treatment to the photo - using Topaz Simplify. Like so:

The pencil drawing...

Was liking the detail and the colors. But I did not like the sky at the top of the left church. Hence, I created an oil painting effect... like so:

The oil painting...

Using the sky from the latter image, I layered that into the picture above. This was the result:

The viable option 1 (?)...

I could have called myself happy, but the guy on the far left was driving me nuts. See him, walking towards the horizon with his breakfast bag (probably a cornetto inside)? Well I had to find a way to flatten him out... so after a bit more experimenting, I applied a watercolor effect, maintained the oily sky, and maintained a bit of the detail (via layering) to obtain my final favorite result below:

Viable option 2...

That's it - which one do you prefer, by the way? Viable option 1 or 2... or none at all?
And if you had to choose... where would you have gone, Babuino, Ripetta, or Corso? :)