Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Verrazano Bridge Re-Edit

The last photo from my previous post is of the Verrazano Bridge as we were leaving New York on a recent cruise. Taken from our balcony while were moving I didn’t have a lot of time to set-up for composition and exposure as I normally would if I were on land.  The fact that we were not moving very fast helped and allowed me to visualize the composition before I looked through the viewfinder. The other trick that I used was to shoot bracketed exposures to ensure that I would have a few to choose from - there was no going back for this.

There was a nice sunset as a backdrop which I think gives the original image a nice feel, just not the overall feeling that I was hoping for. This is where we can get a little more creative in post production. I wanted this image be a little warmer with more of a silhouette feeling of the bridge. I remembered a similar technique in Scott Kelby’s 7 Point System for Adobe Photoshop book (which is a great book for anyone looking for some simple, but powerful, Photoshop technique).

 For me, everything starts in Lightroom:

I began by increasing the White Balance to almost 14000k, which really warms up the image and provides that overall orange glow I was looking for. Next, I dropped the Exposure close to 2 stops and increased the Blacks slider to around 12, which does 2 things, it darkens the bridge and shore to give that silhouette feeling and increasing the Blacks give a little extra boost to the overall saturation. Next, I increased Clarity to 50, Vibrance all the way up to 100 and Saturation up a little bit to 15. Again, this enhances the warm glow. Finally, since this was a RAW image, I did a little bit of sharpening.

Next, I moved over into Photoshop CS5 and added a Gradient Layer from top to bottom and changed the blend mode to Overlay. Next was a great Lab colour move from Kelby’s 7 Point System for Adobe Photoshop, which adds some great colour boost. Click Image > Mode > Lab Colour to change to Lab mode. Next, click Image > Apply Image; from this panel change the Channel to either “a” or “b” to see a colour boost and choose whichever one you think looks best. Channel “a” targets green and magenta while channel “b” targets blue and yellow. For this image I chose Channel “b”. The colour might look a little harsh at first, but all you need to do is change the Blend Mode to either Overlay or Soft Light to soften the effect. If it still looks too strong you can also lower the Opacity. We’re going for a subtle boost, not wild and crazy colours. I finished with a little more sharpening in CS5 and then back to Lightroom where I added a slight post crop vignette.

I was pleased with the overall result.



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