Rendering & Compositing
I wanted to keep the compositing process very simple, so there were only two passes: the beauty pass, which contained everything including the sky (fortunately I had enough memory to render everything at once), and a distant fog pass, which was used as a layer mask with a blurred version of the sky (Fig.19).
Once the beauty pass was rendered, I kept updating the scene in Max while starting compositing in Photoshop. From this point I rendered only small regions of what changed and integrated them in the PSD file.
There are also two layers for older versions of the beauty pass (I like to compare the latest version to older ones, so I know if I'm still going in the right direction), and one layer for the birds (cranes), taken from a photograph. I color-corrected them and changed their position for better integration and composition.
Then I painted over the beauty pass to fix some minor issues that would have taken too long to do in Max. The rest was mainly color and contrast correction (Fig.20).
And here's the final image (Fig.21).
That's it, thanks for reading!