Before and After — San Francisco From 300 Feet

The Before and After series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

For the bulk of my 18 month stint in San Francisco I stayed in an apartment just outside the financial district.  This shot was taken from my apartment window on a rare clear evening at sunset.


  • Shutter:  multiple settings
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Lens:  Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • It’s all well and good to take sunset shots at the horizon, just after the sun goes down.  But I often find it more interesting to shoot what the light is falling on, particularly if that happens to be a bunch of shiny buildings.  By pointing in this direction, the contrast with the deep blue sky is more dramatic, highlighting the warmer colors of the buildings.
  • This is obviously an HDR shot, but I also lightly applied a bleach bypass filter using Nik Color Efx after I was done with Photomatix.  That didn’t have much impact on the oranges and yellows reflected in the glass, but it gave the concrete in the buildings an earthier tone (more noticeable in the structures to the left of the image).


February 05 2012 09:49 pm | Photography

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