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Space Needle and Pacific Science Center

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 capture that 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!

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Taken on October 4, 2008