POP Century plugged in
Imagineering the Shot
This particular shot was taken on the bridge that was meant to connect to the other Pop Century resort that was never completed. Instead when you cross the bridge you are met with a wall of bushes at the other end to help block the view of the unfinished hotel. I am positive that anyone who has been on that bridge before alone at night will agree that it can be very creepy.
I setup my tripod and had planned to take multiple exposures to create an HDR image. Unfortunately it was not until I checked the photos after getting home that I realized I had set my camera wrong and the other exposures came out incorrect. (I now am sure to check this before I leave the location :) I was able to work with one of the shots though and thanks to some work in Adobe Lightroom I was able to save it. This particular shot was set for 4 seconds with the aperture set to f/13.0. The actual photo that was captured was not what I had intended at all. I knew I would have my work cut out for me in processing to get the colors of the building (and reflections) to really pop the way I saw them that night. If I had extended my shutter speed it would have been better, but I am still learning all of this myself.
Magical Post Production
I mentioned before that I only shoot in RAW and use Lightroom for all my processing (with some adjustments in Photoshop and Photomatix if needed). After importing this shot into Lightroom, the first thing I did was crop it. My original shot had too much extra space on the left and I wanted the focus to be the buildings lit up at night. I then had to adjust the white balance – something I do for all my shots since I shoot with auto white balance on the camera with the intention of fixing it in post. I then had to raise the exposure slightly and also added some fill light (brought up to 15 in Lightroom). One of the final steps needed was to make those colors of the buildings and lights POP! To do that I increased both the vibrance and saturation. The vibrance went to +70 and the saturation went up to +24.
I did other minor steps to complete the processing such as bringing the highlights slider down to -72 to fix the blown highlights and a bit of noise reduction to fix the extra noise added when I increased the exposure and fill light.
I will be the first to say that my way of processing may not be the “correct” way but it does work for me. I spend the majority of my day working in Photoshop when creating graphics and web sites – so I tend to have my own way of doing things. I realized though that it seems there is no correct way of doing any of this and that it is more important for people to find a way that works for them. When I attended a Scott Kelby seminar last year about Photoshop he made mention a few times that his way of doing things may not work for someone else and the most important thing was to try different techniques until you find a work flow that you are comfortable with.
Also a side note, this particular shot last week became my most popular shot on Flickr since I started posting. It was a shot that I put up one day quickly because I was so busy and the next day realized that it made it to #25 on Flickr Explore with over 700 views.