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Thread: Charlotte Night Skyline

  1. #1
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Charlotte Night Skyline

    It was cooler after the thunderstorm went through so I headed uptown to try my hand at night photography. The purpose of this exercise was to develop a sense of what would be needed to get good night shots. I think I have a feel for the exposure and although I shot this one at ISO 800, I think I'll try dropping that down next time. It took a while to fumble with the settings in the dark and play with longer exposure time.

    This is a single shot with no PP other than to resize. Taken at f18 for 4 seconds.

    I'm hoping to get some feedback about doing night photography but any C&C is welcomed. Thank you for taking the time tol look and comment.

    Charlotte Night Skyline

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    Sam Smith's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Frank other than the focus looking a little soft I think it is great image.

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    That's a nice shot.
    As for the focus looking a little soft, would that be because there was no PP sharpening applied? I feel that my pics aren't as sharp as I feel they should be and I too use a Nikon.

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Frank it looks pretty good to me for a "first attempt". I've never done this sort of thing seriously so I can't provide much useful comment. I'd probably crop about half of the sky above the tallest building out. Also I think that bit of garden area in the middle area with extra lighting adds an interesting touch.

    Cheers Dave

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Looks pretty cool. I just wish the lights on the building on the left weren't quite so bright.

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Look any different Frank?

    (Click for larger view)

    Charlotte Night Skyline

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Looks pretty cool. I just wish the lights on the building on the left weren't quite so bright.
    It is a very nice image, Frank; and as another with no experience at night photography, Brian poses a question for me. Of course the bright lights on the building to the left can be handled in PP. The same could be said of the headlights of the traffic at the lower right of the frame (this could also be cropped out of course).

    But let's assume the traffic headlights are an essential part of the image and shouldn't be cropped. Now, since you have too much bright further up in the frame as well as in the extreme lower portion, is there any way that both can be mitigated in camera, instead of just leaving the job to PP?

    Edit: sorry, didn't see Colin's post.

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Look any different Frank?

    (Click for larger view)

    Charlotte Night Skyline
    Gee Frank, this bloke's not bad is he. Not only does he give good advice but he also does free processing and picture framing.

    And what a difference it makes !

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    Gee Frank, this bloke's not bad is he. Not only does he give good advice but he also does free processing and picture framing.

    And what a difference it makes !
    All part of the service

  10. #10
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Look any different Frank?

    Charlotte Night Skyline
    Thanks everyone for the valuable feedback! You are correct, Sam and George, there has been no PP (sharpening, cropping, toning bright areas, etc.) applied as yet.

    Hi Colin, thank you for the edit effort, yes it does look different. Let me see if I can identify the changes.

    The sky was cropped as Dave had suggested. The left hand building lights were toned down as Brian suggested. The bright headlights in the lower right corner have also been toned down. This was one of my areas of concern as there was no detail owing to the highlights blow-out. Did you burn, mask and reduce exposure, or use some other method?

    It looks like the green area in the center of the image was lightened? It is hard to tell for sure. The image has been stretched horizontally to give a panoramic view. I have several shots of this to choose from, including a wide angle that I might be able to turn into a panoramic without having to stretch and squish the Bank of America headquarters (That might be more favorably received by the locals!) LOL! And lastly, a slight vignette which also helps reduce the headlight glare in the right corner. Did I miss anything?

    I was wondering about trying to lighten the foreground except where there are bright lights and maybe try to reduce some of the glare on the street lights.

    Is the overall exposure acceptable for a night image? It is difficult for me to be sure with a contrast range this high.

    I don't really see as much noise in the image as I was expecting for an ISO of 800 and so many dark areas. Do I need to lower the ISO?

    Thanks guys! Any other suggestions?

  11. #11

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Thanks everyone for the valuable feedback! You are correct, Sam and George, there has been no PP (sharpening, cropping, toning bright areas, etc.) applied as yet.

    Hi Colin, thank you for the edit effort, yes it does look different. Let me see if I can identify the changes.

    The sky was cropped as Dave had suggested. The left hand building lights were toned down as Brian suggested. The bright headlights in the lower right corner have also been toned down. This was one of my areas of concern as there was no detail owing to the highlights blow-out. Did you burn, mask and reduce exposure, or use some other method?

    It looks like the green area in the center of the image was lightened? It is hard to tell for sure. The image has been stretched horizontally to give a panoramic view. I have several shots of this to choose from, including a wide angle that I might be able to turn into a panoramic without having to stretch and squish the Bank of America headquarters (That might be more favorably received by the locals!) LOL! And lastly, a slight vignette which also helps reduce the headlight glare in the right corner. Did I miss anything?

    I was wondering about trying to lighten the foreground except where there are bright lights and maybe try to reduce some of the glare on the street lights.

    Is the overall exposure acceptable for a night image? It is difficult for me to be sure with a contrast range this high.

    I don't really see as much noise in the image as I was expecting for an ISO of 800 and so many dark areas. Do I need to lower the ISO?

    Thanks guys! Any other suggestions?
    Hi Frank,

    Pretty close

    - In your original, there was a lot of "black sky" at the top, which didn't do anything - so best that we "lop off" a fair chunk of it.

    - I applied a bit of fill light and vibrancy in the RAW converter just to smooth out some of the transition zones and just generally make it more attractive

    - I changed the aspect ratio of what was left to 2.5:1 - generally more panoramic images are more appealing for this kind of scene.

    - I applied output sharpening (300% @ 0.3 pixel) (that alone probably make the biggest difference)

    - I toned down the brighter structure with a few taps of the mouse using the burn tool

    - I toned down the right-hand-side lights by applying a vignette to the entire image.

    I deliberately didn't want to say anything when I reworked the image - but I did want to make a point; and that point was that "photography is at least a 2-step process" - your initial capture was just fine, but what let you down was the preparation and presentation of the image. The edit I did took perhaps 5 minutes, but the result was something that is saleable -v- something that probably wouldn't have sold in it's original form ... so what I'm kinda trying to say is (IMO anyway) that presentation is important - vital in fact.

    In terms of your execution of the capture, it's fine ... you can use ISO 100 if you like, but you'll be there for 8 times as long - and that in turn may also have an effect on what is captured (eg cars) (not so much in this case, but ultimately it's just one of the things you have to balance). Noise generally isn't an issue with this type of shot regardless of ISO because the noise is buried in the shadows and relatively easily dealt to with adjustment of the black clipping point -- so long as the image isn't grossly under-exposed (standard mantra for high-iso shooting).

    In terms of exposure - with this kind of shot, all you can do is expose for the mid-tones; the highlights are going to blow anyway. As a rule of thumb, just go by what you see on the review screen (and pretty much ignore the histogram) ... if it looks good on the screen, chances are its a good capture -- you'll always get highlight alert blinkies with this kind of shot anyway -- you just have to learn to judge whether or not they're covering significant part of the image where you want to retain detail.

    Hope this helps (gotta run!).

  12. #12
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Thanks Colin! Based on your comments and those of the other responders, it looks like I should be on track with the changes I made then. I'll give it a fling and see what the Mini voters think. Thanks again!

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Thanks Colin! Based on your comments and those of the other responders, it looks like I should be on track with the changes I made then. I'll give it a fling and see what the Mini voters think. Thanks again!
    You're very welcome

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Hi Colin:
    Great work on Frank's picture. I'm curious on how you put in the framing effect. Was that Photoshop or some other software?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 11th August 2011 at 10:25 AM.

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    Re: Charlotte Night Skyline

    Quote Originally Posted by kaneohebud View Post
    Hi Colin:
    Great work on Frank's picture. I'm curious on how you put in the framing effect. Was that Photoshop or some other software?
    Hi Bud,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    It's just done in Photoshop.

    It's pretty easy - just a combination of using Edit -> Canvas size, and Edit -> Stroke.

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