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.

Exposure

  • 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).

Original:

February 05 2012 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Sunlight Through Redwoods

The Daily Photo 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.

I took this HDR shot over Thanksgiving, from the deck of my dad’s house in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The clouds had been unusual all day, but as the sun neared the horizon, the fog started to thicken and spill over the distant ridge.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/30, 1/125, 1/500, 1/2000
  • Aperture:  f/16
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • The deep shade of the redwoods and the direct sun on the horizon made this an obvious candidate for HDR.  Looking at the individual shots though (a couple of which are below), there was minimal representation of the light streaming through the trees.  I expected a broad exposure range for the clouds on the ridge, but thought the rays of sunlight themselves would be much narrower.  Fortunately, the combined image managed to re-capture the original look.
  • The color in the trees came out in the HDR image, but I added color to the sun and clouds.  I went a little milder than a typical sunset, mostly because I thought it would detract from the bottom half of the shot (the interesting part).  The area in-between, where the clouds have come over the far ridge, looks a little bland to me and creates a weird break between the top and bottom.  It might have been worth pasting in some faint ridge lines from a different image, but that would have been more work than this photo warranted.

Original (sample 1):

Original (sample 2):

February 11 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Santa Cruz Mountains

The Daily Photo 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.

A couple years ago my dad built a small art studio for Susan, his wife, on the end of the same ridge his house sites on. The structure itself isn’t more than about 6′ x 10′, but there’s plenty of natural light to work by.  This deck sits on the north west facing (the sun normally goes down more or less where the chair is facing).

  • Shutter:  1/30 to 2 seconds (7 images)
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

Black and white version:

One of the original shots:

Composition and Processing

  • Unlike the previous shot, I prefer the color version this time.  The stained wood is very complementary to the greens in the scene, but the color difference really helps separate and lift the deck from the trees and mountains beyond.  It’s also far more dominant in the image than in the shot of the house (which has the same wood tones).
  • I tried shooting this from lower on the deck, but the view tends to collapse as the trees block too much of the distant ridge.  Of course, I could have shot even higher, but that would have reduced the intimacy of the empty chair on the deck (and changed the lines entirely).
  • This is about 1/8 of the view from my dad’s house– the furthest ridge line actually wraps around about 180 degrees, and there are some cliffs to the right.  In fact, the only place the view is impeded is by a small hill directly behind the main house, to the south-east.  I chose this section of it because of the position of the late afternoon sun, and the way the fog was rolling in over the various ridges in the distance (on a couple rare occasions growing up I have seen this entire view socked in with fog up to about 50 feet below where this deck now stands, with nothing but blue sky above).

January 31 2009 | Photography | 2 Comments »