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From RAW to Final: New York City Skyline!

Hello everyone,

Wow what an incredible 4 days I just had, being part of the New York Architectural photo walk organized and lead by my good friend Joel Tjintjelaar along with Sharon Tenenbaum and Armand Dijcks.

As everyone gathers for some farewell drinks in Manhatten, I am already sitting in a hotel room close to Newark airport, getting ready to say goodbye to my father who is catching a flight back to Germany in about an hour.

These past 4 days surely have been some of the most intense photographic times I have ever spend in Manhatten. I have met some truly wonderful, interesting, inspiring and fun people and cannot help but feel truly grateful for having been able to be a part of this event. To all the talented photographers who came out to New York for this event, thank you for welcoming me to the group. It was great to meet you all, and I hope there will be opportunities to catch up again in the future. Wherever, and whenever, that might be -:)

As I am preparing for my own journey back home to Vancouver, I wanted to share this first image I had a chance to work on. Late last night I was asked to do another presentation to the group this morning, and wanted to share an image that was created during the past 4 days. So I got busy editing, and here it is:

Image data: Exposure time: approx. 500 seconds @F5.6 and ISO 50. Photographed using my Cambo Wide DS and Phase One Digital Back.

This image is a panorama merged from 2 single long exposure images. You can see the original RAW files below:

These 2 files had only basic adjustments applied in Adobe Camera RAW. The panorama was created using Photoshop's 'Photomerge' feature, and because these images were shot using camera shift movement only, they assembled perfectly without any need for manual blending. What is more, with very few clouds in the sky, the merge became even easier. No need to worry that moving clouds wouldn't match up in the final panorama.

Let's take a quick step back now. I want to show you the image that inspired this composition. It's the reason I decided to shoot 2 images and stitch them, instead of focusing closer and isolating just a few of the buildings instead of the oevrall skyline.

The image above was photographed on the first day of the photo-walk, using my nifty Sony RX 100 point-and-shoot camera. in fact, I used the 'sweep panorama' feature, which created a huge, almost 180 degree, panorama of the exact same location.

What started as a quick snapshot, showed some potential once I realized that this composition could really work and make for a dramatic photograph. But rather than working on this images, I made a plan to return to this location and take my 'real' camera with me. And I did 2 days later. When comparing both compositions, you may notice that the aspect ratio changes, and I also 'traded' some negative space from the edges (in the Sony image) to the sky (the final image above). I do like the more elongated panorama the Sony gave me, but this would have taken a lot more time to reproduce with my Cambo. As the Sony is actually a very capable camera, I may take this image and put it through similar post production at a later point, but since it was created with an automatic mode there was no option for doing so using long exposures. Still, this example shows you how important it is to keep a 'snap' camera with you, as you can use it to take quick photos you can use for inspiration.

In this image you can see my camera setup for the final shot for this image. Taken using my Sony RX 100. Brooklyn Bridge Park provides an excellent view of the Manhatten skyline, and since the path is very wide it is easy to setup your tripod right on the water's edge. And no security guard bothered us either....

Here you can see screenshot of working in Silver Efex Pro 2. For this image, the adjustments were really straight forward. I did use 4 control points, shown above, which mostly allowed me to increase 'structure' and 'brightness' on the buildings themselves. I also added grain, something I do to most of my images. I feel that it provides a nice texture, and it is something I always used and loved while shooting film. Note that the vignetting, which is fairly pronounced in this image, is actually not added in Silver Efex, but comes from my camera and the strong horizontal shift movements I used to create this panorama.

Finally, here is a screenshot of the image while working on it in Photoshop CS6. Notice that it did not take many layers, nor very complicated adjustments to get to the final look above. What you can see are all the adjustments I frequently use on most of my images. They are:

  • Curves (used with masks for selective adjustments)
  • Sharpening using the Hi Pass Filter (and a mask to make it selective)
  • Dodge and Burn Layer (using Soft Light Blend Mode)

Please watch the blog for more images as I will be working through them. For now, I will be taking the night off as I'll be on a very early flight back to Vancouver on the morning.

Thank you New York. I'll see you again soon...

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Reader Comments (1)

That's what I like so much of you, sharing, showing! Thanks a lot!
I do hope you had a great time in NY, I bet you had a lot of fun with Joel and Armand. Was your father also present?
This image..... it's awesome!!! Perhaps one of best ;-)

Thank you I'm fine, bought a new lens 14-24 and some LEE-filters. To less time to go out shooting.
Take care my friend!

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAline van Weert

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