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Thread: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

  1. #1

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    Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Hi, I went out to get this shot a few days ago, but unfortunately the fog rolled in right at sunset. So I'm going to go back to this location some night with no fog. It'll be much better with the tops of the buildings. But, I wanted to get some advice before that next shoot.

    Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated
    San Francisco Fog by Dave Michaud, on Flickr

    My question is about exposure. Does this shot look overexposed? It's a 15 sec exposure at f11. Are the car lights (e.g., white line in the freeway, bottom left) and other building lights too bright?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Dave

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Quote Originally Posted by dmichaud View Post
    Hi, I went out to get this shot a few days ago, but unfortunately the fog rolled in right at sunset. So I'm going to go back to this location some night with no fog. It'll be much better with the tops of the buildings. But, I wanted to get some advice before that next shoot.

    Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated
    San Francisco Fog by Dave Michaud, on Flickr

    My question is about exposure. Does this shot look overexposed? It's a 15 sec exposure at f11. Are the car lights (e.g., white line in the freeway, bottom left) and other building lights too bright?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Dave
    Dave,

    Nothing at all wrong with the shot. The longer exposure gives an added leading line effect, and except for a few overexposed areas, stationary points of light which can be fixed in photoshop, the image works even with the foggy building tops. Long exposures let in more light than is necessary to capture the structure of the buildings but it works in this case because of the fog.

  3. #3

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    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Hi,
    My vison about such agglomeration is without sky

    Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Radu Dinu

  4. #4

    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Dave

    I would say it is very well exposed. And, in an unfathomable sort of way this may be the issue. Apart from the fact the building lights are on there is no reference to suggest darkness (if that makes any sense). I have waffled on in another thread about the need for the human eye to fill in blanks and as result the most stimulating images are those which provide a mix of detail and lesser definition to work the mind.

    Do not get me wrong your shot is technically excellent. It captures every detail. Maybe why this is the reason you perceive thefog as the problem. A dark sky would go some way to providing the balance

    Steve

    Post Script: Check of the balance of visual components on Colin Southerns night work on this forum.

  5. #5

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    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    From Steve (Wirefox)A dark sky would go some way to providing the balance
    Hi John: Great shot and I think what Steve said is right on. Seeing is believing for me and I played around a bit with your shot trying to darken the sky and it makes a big difference. My PP skills are not such that I will post my results, but if you can PP a bit to darken the sky, I think you will be much happier with this shot.

    On another note, you asked about the light trails from the cars bottom left. In my opinion in this shot, they are too bright. Only because of the positioning though. I find my eye wandering off to the left and out of the shot, so in this case although it is a great effect and nicely done they are too bright. Toning them down might help, or excluding them. I'm not sure, but they do tend to draw my eye away from the rest of the image.

    I hope you will get more comments on this before trying again. I am interested to know if this would be a good example of a shot where a graduated neutral density filter would work to keep that sky dark.

    Thanks for posting, this is a great shot, and I can learn along with you on this. I have a neutral density filter on order, but only have a general idea of how or when to use it.

    Wendy

  6. #6
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    I had a quick go, I'm not an expert but I used a multiplicity layer at 100% + linear gradient layer from black to yellow various hue and opacity. So I'm sure you can do better than this.

    Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

  7. #7

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    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Thanks for the feedback folks, much appreciated!

    I actually did use a Lee 3 stop soft-edge ND grad filter hand-held over the fog to help manage the dynamic range. I also burned down the fog a bit in PS, perhaps not enough, but I didn't spend much time in post. I think having the tops of the buildings, including the Transamerica pyramid, with a twilight sky will help balance the light trails on the bottom left.

    So, for my next shoot at this location, I think I'll just bracket the shot a few stops and see how the light trails and building lights turn out. I guess it will end up being a trade-off since a lower exposure will tone down the lights, but perhaps the detail in the buildings as well? We'll see. In fact, maybe I'll try my first HRD shot.

  8. #8

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    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Thanks for investing some time on this Steve, much appreicated! I'll give it a try.
    In case folks are curious, I shot this with a Canon 50D, EF-S 17-55mm @ 55 mm (88mm equivalent).

  9. #9

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    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    I had a quick go, I'm not an expert but I used a multiplicity layer at 100% + linear gradient layer from black to yellow various hue and opacity. So I'm sure you can do better than this.

    Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    I like it Steve, and I think with what you have done the fog adds to the mood of the shot. I still think the light trails bottom left become the main attraction though - which I don't think they should.

    Wendy

  10. #10

    Re: Nightime San Francisco Cityscape: Advice Appreciated

    Steve, I do like your version it definitely gets those much needed dark areas into the shot.

    maybe I'll try my first HRD shot.
    Unless you tread lighter than a pussy cat on a dewed lawn you will get a Gotham City backdrop from a Batman comic. I am not a fan of HDR imagery in the first place and I am not sure that enhanced dynamic range in processing will do this style of image any justice. If you use photoshop there is a quick acid test to get some feel of what HDR processing could look like. Use a Tone Mapping plugin and zap the sliders up to 75%. This is obviously not an accurate rendition but it will give a feel as to whether the image needs a shot of the mind altering HDR drug.

    Steve

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