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Thread: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

  1. #1
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    My wife and I headed downtown Ottawa so that she could get her glasses adjusted. Our optometrist has his office about a block away from Parliament Hill, so I headed over there with my brand new Lee ND filter set to try things out. One doesn't often see a shot of the Parliament Buildings with snow, so I had been thinking about doing one of these for a while.

    It was around 13:30 and the clouds had settled in. It is always busy here and there were dozens of tourists walking up to the Centre Block, so I decided to try a stacking technique to eliminate them. I shot four RAW files over about 5 minutes, waiting for people to move along so I could find people free parts of the image. I used the Photo Merge functionality and used layer mask to do the erasing. This is what I came up with:



    Centre Block - Parliament Hill




    Lots of good lessons learned and I should get a lot better results next time...
    Last edited by Manfred M; 24th March 2013 at 03:24 AM.

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Better results? My first thought was how???? Manfred, this is a beautiful image as is and if your expectation is for better results next time I can hardly wait to see the result...

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    That is a wonderful image. You should send it over to the PM's office and maybe they might hang it in the corridor?

    The one imperfection is that the flag is not fully to either the left or right. Maybe you have a shot that shows the flag?

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Very nice image Manfred, very different to when we were there last July. The clouds really add something to this image I think.

    Now, as for eliminating tourists ...

    Gee I thought you Canadians were a friendly lot

    Dave

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    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Lots of good lessons learned and I should get a lot better results next time...
    better? BETTER??? i give up!

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Very nice results manfred. Nice composition as well. The only thing i would change, is the upper portion of the clock tower, looks a touch darker than the rest of the building. A slight dodging would help that area.

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post

    Lots of good lessons learned and I should get a lot better results next time...
    Superb work!. But seriously, for our shared edification, what would you like to do differently next time?

  8. #8
    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Manfred, what are your opinions about bracketing exposures rather than using grads, you went to a lot of trouble using layers to remove people so why not use a layer for the sky thus avoiding the under exposure on the tower? im thinking of buying a set of grads but need to learn how to use photoshop as well and am wondering why i need to bother with the grads if i can sort it in post.

  9. #9
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Thanks for the comments. When I look at what I got; my original workflow (mostly at the photography end, and also at the PP side) will be done differently:

    1. Give myself more time for image capture; when you do something while under a very tight deadline; I had about 10 - 15 minutes including getting there and back. I didn't totally and cleanly eliminate all the people but had to do a lot more PP work to get things looking right. I had to do a fair bit of masking with a grad to undo the ND affect on the Peace Tower, and was not 100% successful. Even with additional dodging, I ended up having to lighten the clock manually.

    The wind was in the wrong direction, so the flag was not blowing in the ideal position. The one I used was actually the best one of the lot.

    2. I should have tried shooting the 0.6 (2-stop) grad as well. Grad shots in daylight can give positively "evil" looks to the shot, so I did some overall lightening to reduce the effect, and the building is a tad lighter than I might want it to be, but I liked the balance between it and the sky better this way.

    3. Take a reference shot without the ND filter to be included in the stack. The colour gradation fight I had would have been a lot easier had I done this.

    4. Do some pre-import cleanup; I did not get the ususal RAW workflow out of ACR, so there is actually a lot of chromatic aberation in the original size as well as vignetting.

    This is one of the images I started with. so as you can see; I spent a lot of time in PP.

    Centre Block - Parliament Hill
    Last edited by Manfred M; 24th March 2013 at 01:06 PM.

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    That sounds like a good plan. Looking forward to the next installment.

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Very nice image and explanation, Manfred.

    In the original captures, what causes the tower to become progressively darker? Is it dirtier than the rest of the building? Does it have something to do with the ND filter?

    Similarly, what is it about the ND filter that creates the "evil" look that you mentioned?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Both a wonderful image resulting from all the work put in and also a superb lesson for everyone thanks to Manfred's own reflections and assessment on what he would do differently the next time.

  13. #13
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Very nice image and explanation, Manfred.

    In the original captures, what causes the tower to become progressively darker? Is it dirtier than the rest of the building? Does it have something to do with the ND filter?

    Similarly, what is it about the ND filter that creates the "evil" look that you mentioned?
    Mike - basically the ND filter affects the sky and the tower; hence my comment that next time I would do a shot without the ND filter to give me a clean image of the tower that I could incorporate into the stack and then blend without having to jump through hoops trying to remove the dark shades.

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Manfred: were you using the 4 x 6 hard Gradulated ND filter or a 4x4 ND filter. From your post #9 it appears to be a hard GND filter if it were a regular ND filter, would it not have knocked down the light over the complete image leaving no evil look. When I use the hard ND I set it at the horizon and then afterwards have to lighten an peaks that it covered. If I am trying to remove people than I slide it completely down, 4 images at approx 1.25 minutes each should have pretty well removed any people if they were moving.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Allan - I was shooting the soft ND filters. I have a couple of hard GND 77mm screw in Heliopan filters, so I bought the soft Lee 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 filters. If I need the hard line, I can shoot the Heliopans, in spite of their limitations. I will likely get the hard GND Lee filters at some point. I also have the 4x4 0.6 and 0.9 ND Lee filters.

    The problem with the people is that they tend to stand at the same place on the stairs to have their pictures taken and that is the only place I could not get a totally clean image. I showed up just after a tour bus got there...

  16. #16

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Yes the 4x6 soft grads would cause that effect, I have the same ones hardly use them use the 4x6 hard most .6/.9/1.2 the last one is my favorite. If I was doing it I would have dropped the hard 4 stop all the way down so it would have worked the same as a 4x4, 4-stop. As for people stopping in front, once doing a 6 minute long exposure with a wide angle and a person walked in front of the lens 4 feet from it and stood there for 5 minutes and to do that they had to walk around the tripod in the middle of the isle in the Church.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Now I understand. I didn't realize that the ND filters are graduated.

    Assuming you're trying to balance the sky with the building, wouldn't it be easiest to deal with the sky during post-processing? Alternatively, if you want to blur the motion of the clouds, you could take one shot without the filter and one with. Use the sky of the photo taken with the filter and use the building of the other photo.

    Obviously, I'm ignoring the issue of dealing with the people at the moment. You know all of this, so I still wonder if I'm missing something.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 25th March 2013 at 11:12 AM.

  18. #18
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar01 View Post
    Yes the 4x6 soft grads would cause that effect, I have the same ones hardly use them use the 4x6 hard most .6/.9/1.2 the last one is my favorite. If I was doing it I would have dropped the hard 4 stop all the way down so it would have worked the same as a 4x4, 4-stop. As for people stopping in front, once doing a 6 minute long exposure with a wide angle and a person walked in front of the lens 4 feet from it and stood there for 5 minutes and to do that they had to walk around the tripod in the middle of the isle in the Church.

    Cheers:

    Allan
    Thanks Allan - It was the first time I had worked with the soft grads, and they are quite different than the hard grads (who would have thought). Good suggestions, thanks.

    Same thing with the eliminating people in the scene; I read about it last week and decided to try out the technique. This is usually something I encounter when travelling in places where tripods are not allowed, so I thought I would try the hand-hold technique. An interesting experiment that I plan to update now that I've had a first crack at it. For interior shots I just in front of the crowds and shoot with an ultrawide angle lens and have gotten great results for years (back in the film days), but this does not work for the building exteriors. I probably should put a perspective correcting lens on my wish list (better yet a view camera?)

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark von Kanel View Post
    Manfred, what are your opinions about bracketing exposures rather than using grads, you went to a lot of trouble using layers to remove people so why not use a layer for the sky thus avoiding the under exposure on the tower? im thinking of buying a set of grads but need to learn how to use photoshop as well and am wondering why i need to bother with the grads if i can sort it in post.
    I must have missed your question Mark; sorry about that.

    I find that the specific shooting situation will dictate how I try to approach a problem, so I like to have a fairly broad toolkit available to me; and that includes having grads. I often find that doing it in camera will save me a lot of time when I get home and start PP work. I find that I want to minimize the number of variables when stacking images; every time you add an additional shot, something can cause me grief later on. Try stacking when shooting a scene with a lot of action or movement; it can be done; but it can also get tricky. I think I will look at building up an inventory of at least a 2-stop and a 3-stop hard edge ND selection.

    Because of the people elimination with four (or five) shots; I wanted to fix the rest of the image; otherwise I would have had to take another 3 shots for the blend (bracket the sky, lower sky, the upper clock tower and probably the clock itself). I have never managed to get the clock itself to look right in a single shot; it always seems to blow out. Same issue with the flag; the wind direction is always wrong.

    Sorry for rambling; but I like using grads when there is a lot of sky in the shot. The shot comes out of the camera with a lot less PP and starting out with a sky that is closer to the dynamic range of the rest of the shot is a good thing in my book.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Centre Block - Parliament Hill

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Now I understand. I didn't realize that the ND filters are graduated.

    Assuming you're trying to balance the sky with the building, wouldn't it be easiest to deal with the sky during post-processing? Alternatively, if you want to blur the motion of the clouds, you could take one shot without the filter and one with. Use the sky of the photo taken with the filter and use the building of the other photo.

    Obviously, I'm ignoring the issue of dealing with the people at the moment. You know all of this, so I still wonder if I'm missing something.
    Mike you wouldn't believe the variation of the selection of ND filters on the market; colours, differing patterns of dark and light areas, etc.

    In the digital age I use three types of filters; polarizers, ND and grad ND. These are the only ones that cannot be reproduced in PP, although arguably, the GND can be simulated with a gradient as long as you have't blown out the highlights.

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