Space Needle and Pacific Science Center

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This print is now for sale. 100 print run, on archival ink / semigloss finish, $50.00 print only, 12" x 18". Contact me via Flickrmail if you're interested.

Testing my newly gained understanding of HDR and photoshop skills.

7-shot RAW HDR tonemapped via PhotoMatix 3, then imported into Photoshop for artifact correction. Final color balance tweaks, cropping and rotation in Lightroom.

This is another step forward to where I want to be, as far as techniques and workflow ability goes. The next step will be getting panorama tools setup correctly to shoot this as a ultra-high resolution panorama.

During post-processing, all 3Gb of RAM was taken up by Photoshop and Lightroom (mostly Photoshop). I will need a computer upgrade to be processing things this way when I get my 5D Mk II. (Along with monitor calibration hardware if I'm serious about selling prints).


Someone had FlickrMailed me about the post processing on this photo. I'll share the technique here.

I read through StuckInCustom's excellent tutorial here - before I headed out into the field. The enlightenment moment for me is realizing that when I first started doing HDRs, I wanted to capturethat magical glow in the scene, and typically I go for the overexposures. However, I've always neglected the underexposed frames and as a result I don't have the data to fix the blown out light sources.

I think this scene works, because the arches in the pac sci center, and the neon signs on top of Key Arena, is very readable and not blown out / blurry due to overexposure. If this scene had a body of water in front of it I would have shot the long exposure shots to capture the glow off the water, but longer exposures here just blow out the scene and doesn't give me any more usable data to work with.

Now that you understand my reasoning going into taking this picture, the rest of the technique / workflow:

* I shot a series of shots in manual mode, ISO50 on the 5D, on a tripod with mirror lockup and self-timer (did not have cable release).
* The shots were bought into Photomatix, combined and tone mapped for detail enchancement. I up the white and black points to spread the histogram out and make the scene brighter and I played with the smoothing of the luminosity until I got something I liked.
* I then tone map this into a 16 bit TIFF, and send this TIFF into Photoshop
* I exported the RAW files for the darkest and a medium exposure out of Lightroom into Photoshop. I should play with this as a smart object, but I didn't have a lot of time editing this.
* The exposures are stacked top to bottom: HDRed TIFF, darkest exposure, normal exposure. Note that despite careful use of tripod and mirror lockup the camera still shifts between shots. I used the auto-align feature (layers, autoalign) to correct for the camera movement. I thought it was pretty cool... (I'm a photoshop n00b).
* Mostly I just use a layer mask, 30% transparency brush to brush away the blown / artifacts from the neon to expose the lowest exposure (middle layer) to repair the neon signs.
* I did some blending of the lowest and median exposure layers to try to give a better result with the neons.
* The result is saved into a flattened TIFF and bought back into Lightroom.
* I applied a white balance correction on the *final* product. I shot this on RAW, tungsten balance and found it too warm for my liking, so I decreased the color temperature until I got something I liked.
* Cropped and rotated it so that the buildings are actually vertical. I need to buy a new bubble level :-)

That's it! :-)

Thanks for all the comments, guys!

Rosie Reid, ramontello13, KellBailey, and 212 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. Kirpernicus 67 months ago | reply

    Well done, great results form your hard work! I like the bit of color on the right. I am just beginning a similar workflow (Photomatix 3, CS3, Lightroom 2) and have just barely started attempting to do HDR. I haven't been happy with the results quite yet - so none are on Flickr yet though.

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Eye Candy!, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  2. Bobby Ramirez Photography 67 months ago | reply

    beautiful shot and nice hdr!

  3. da niece 67 months ago | reply

    where did you take this picture from?

  4. FarhadFarhad .(Farhad Jahanbani) 67 months ago | reply

    Lovely capture and all the processing ............ Fantastic ....!

  5. ttstam 67 months ago | reply

    Seattle :-)

    (Kerry Park @ Queen Anne)

  6. Sarah Alston 67 months ago | reply

    DUDE! I *heart* this!

    Been a while since I've been to Kerry. I need to go back.

  7. ♥ Katie ann 67 months ago | reply

    Hi, Your photo has been spotted
    and is worthy of an Invitation to
    Please add your photo to
    We would love to have you join and share this photo with the group.
    Please tag "Flickr Classique"

  8. Studio Narvaez 67 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Skylines of the World, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    Beautiful Shot.

  9. Manuel Gual 66 months ago | reply

    Photo added to my Blog
    Congratulations !!!

    Fotografia añadida a mi Blog
    Felicidades !!!

    Captura Blog

  10. pacsci 65 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Pacific Science Center, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  11. Cynthia.Lou 64 months ago | reply

    I love the Seattle skyline. You've captured all its gorgeousness.

  12. ttstam 64 months ago | reply

    Thanks. I should reshoot this with the 5D Mk II. If you wanna join in sometime, shoot me an email.

  13. g_heyde 63 months ago | reply

    Outstanding shot!

  14. maginashun 62 months ago | reply

    Excellent submission. I have no idea how I sometimes miss great photos like this in people's streams.

  15. ♥MEeEeEeEe♥ [deleted] 58 months ago | reply

    Great shot

  16. davic 56 months ago | reply

    fantastic night exposure

  17. Anomalous_A 46 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called City Skylines, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  18. The Roaming Boomers 34 months ago | reply

    Wonderful photograph. Thanks for making it available through your creative commons license. We will be featuring it, with proper annotation, on our website very soon in the "coming soon" section.

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