tutorial: nightshot post processing

AndyAndy BicameralNew YorkRegistered Users Posts: 50,154 Major grins
edited June 20, 2007 in Finishing School
hey guys.... my good friend and fellow photographer florindo gallicchio asked me to see if i could work on one of his photos... and i said yeah, but only if i could use it as an example for dgrin :deal

so, here's what florindo made from a shot he took on the brooklyn side of the brooklyn bridge:
4283140-L.jpg

hey now, nothing wrong with this, but .... well florindo wanted some more "pop" and he wanted it not to be so brownish-green :puke1 :puke1 :puke1

let's take a look at what i did with the image. florindo sent me the raw file. so, first thing that must be done is raw conversion. this is what the camera recorded:

4283141-L.jpg

the big benefit of raw is you never have to worry about white balance in-camera, you can easily set it in the raw conversion. notice on the above pic the color temp is 3800 degs kelvin... a bit warm, and that's where the yellow green comes from. watch what happens if you cool the temp down to 3000 degs kelvin, and slide the tint bar over to the right, to +22:

4283142-L.jpg

there, that looks like a good place to start from.... ok, now we click on "ok" and the file comes into normal photoshop. very very important step here! save your file as a .psd! repeat after me: save your file as a .psd! this is a non-compressed photoshop file that you can keep, and all your layers will remain intact. you'll create your final .jpgs from the .psd file.

4283143-L.jpg

always always do this, never work on the raw file or original jpg for that matter, and you won't end up like this :dunno :scratch :doh :dgrin

ok... now on to the fun part. hey this image didn't need much, and the whole post processing took me less than 10 minutes. first, let's look at levels. i always give photoshop's autolevels a try, it sometimes gives quite a good result. use the following sequence: layer>new adjustment layer>levels>auto and take a look. you can then do a comparison manual levels adjustment and see if you can do it better yourself if you like. i will often do this, and then click the eyeballs off/on to see which version of levels i like better. the reason to work in adjustment layers is that we can also learn to use *layer masks* within our adjustment layers. the layer mask is that square on the right of your pic icon in the layers palette. the layer mask is simple. it's an "undo" for what's going on in that layer. how do you use it? simple: grab a soft edged brush, make sure black is the foreground color, and simply brush over the areas you don't want the layer's effect to apply to. this is a hard concept to grasp, but if you practice it you'll get the hang of it in no time. keep in mind that you can go full strength on the brush (undoing 100% of the effect) or you can lower the opacity of the brush by x% and you'll be undoing by that %age....again, just practice it :thumb

if you mess up on your layer mask, you can discard it (right click on it) and start an new mask (circle in square at bottom of layers palette) and just start over!

4283144-L.jpg

ok in this case i really liked the autolevels so i left it. and nothing to mask..but now i wanted more pop, so i went for a curve :rofl layer>new adustment layer>curves ... here you play with a graph, looking usually you want a slight s-curve, but here i bulged it upwards some, which lightened the whole image... i'll mask most of that brightness away.... again, this is an effect that's easy to play with and practice, and in this case, i also heavily used the layer mask...notice that some of the mask was full 100% and some was only at 50%. you can see which is 50% by looking at the layer mask icon (to the right and the 50% part is grey, not black).

4283145-L.jpg

hey we're getting there! but the colors are a bit flat still, let's try some hue saturation.. layer>new adjustment layer>hue saturation ... i usually will try the rgb first, and just slide the saturation slider to the right... be very careful! oversaturation can kill most images. normally i will only do this about +10 and sometimes as high as +20 but watch out for fake looking colors and noise and other hinky stuff in your image. here, i was able to get away with +40 and no harm to the image. always look at 100% magnification to ensure you aren't harming the image quality with these adjustments. again, i used the layer mask to remove the saturation from the brooklyn side bridge tower, it was a bit facacta so i just brushed away by 50% and voila, it was un-facacta-d.

4283146-L.jpg

okay at this point i think i did all i could do. so i first saved the .psd file, then i flattened it. then, ctrl-j (copy the background) and i'm ready to apply some sharpening. for this web display, i first resized to 800x533, then i applied unsharp mask settings of 150% amount, .4 radius and 0 thresholds. do your usm this way, and you can easily see the effect by clicking on/off the eybeall in the layer... and in this case, if you did that, you'd see the window lights in the buildings just pop with a bit more brightness and clarity!

here's the final version (photo by florindo gallicchio):

4283147-L.jpg

i hope that this is helpful to you guys!

enjoy (getting the most in post) photography,

Comments

  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited May 16, 2004
    Wow, that's amazing. It's gorgeous. I'm really loving these get the most from post threads.
  • michael972michael972 Big grins Registered Users Posts: 43 Big grins
    edited May 19, 2004
    Andy, thank you for this great tutorial..please post more!
  • digismiledigismile Major grins Registered Users Posts: 955 Major grins
    edited May 19, 2004
    Andy wrote:
    hey guys.... my good friend and fellow photographer florindo gallicchio asked me to see if i could work on one of his photos... and i said yeah, but only if i could use it as an example for dgrin deal.gif







    i hope that this is helpful to you guys!

    enjoy (getting the most in post) photography,
    What a great photo! Can you give us any of the exposure details? I have tried a few night time digital exposures and have been a bit disappointed with the noise.

    Brad
  • AndyAndy Bicameral New YorkRegistered Users Posts: 50,154 Major grins
    edited May 19, 2004
    exposure details
    digismile wrote:
    What a great photo! Can you give us any of the exposure details? I have tried a few night time digital exposures and have been a bit disappointed with the noise.

    Brad

    hey brad, all the details are there at the top of the first pic window (the raw conversion shot) .... iso 100, 10sec, f/8, 24mm
  • DoctorItDoctorIt vrooom! Administrators Posts: 11,947 moderator
    edited May 19, 2004
    Andy - i have one question/point of contention... you save all your shots as PSD!? So, for most photos, you have 3 versions (2 of them VERY large - RAW and PSD) of each taking up space on your hard drive? Wow, I can't afford that kind of storage space. I always went by the fact that the RAW file saves your conversion, I've selected them to use sidecar xmp's, so if I did want to go back after making a jpg, just go to the RAW file. Yes, if I did some blending and what not after the RAW conversion, that would be lost, but I doubt that if I went back to the image I would want to follow the same steps - would probably be on the contrary, to try something different.

    But AWESOME work, again, as usual... !!! :D

    PS> can we try not to quote andy's original message in our replies... it will get REALLY hard to follow.
    Erik
    moderator of: The Flea Market [ guidelines ]

  • AndyAndy Bicameral New YorkRegistered Users Posts: 50,154 Major grins
    edited May 19, 2004
    mwink.gif
    DoctorIt wrote:
    Andy - i have one question/point of contention... you save all your shots as PSD!? So, for most photos, you have 3 versions (2 of them VERY large - RAW and PSD) of each taking up space on your hard drive? Wow, I can't afford that kind of storage space. I always went by the fact that the RAW file saves your conversion, I've selected them to use sidecar xmp's, so if I did want to go back after making a jpg, just go to the RAW file. Yes, if I did some blending and what not after the RAW conversion, that would be lost, but I doubt that if I went back to the image I would want to follow the same steps - would probably be on the contrary, to try something different.

    But AWESOME work, again, as usual... !!! :D

    i absoulutely save all my psds. i want the layers maintained intact, so that if i come back, i may need to do only slight adjustments. i never alter the raw file. nor the orig jpgs on my sony.

    check out this thread i started

    PS> can we try not to quote andy's original message in our replies... it will get REALLY hard to follow.

    i agree! folks have to start trimming the pics out of the responses. oh and it applies to any thread, not just mine!
  • lynnmalynnma Moddess Emeritus Homosassa, Florida (Paradise)Registered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 5,163
    edited May 26, 2004
    i hope that this is helpful to you guys!

    enjoy (getting the most in post) photography,[/QUOTE]
    Wonderful tutorial Andy... now I'm rumaging about in my files looking for a night shot of something.... anything...
  • DavidTODavidTO Mod Emeritus Thousand Oaks, CARegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 19,160 Major grins
    edited May 26, 2004
    Andy,

    You apply USM to the RGB image? What about the technique of applying it to the lightness channel in LAB mode? Or applying a fade effect and applying it to the luminosity? Any comments on these techniques? This is an area (alternative methods of applying USM) that I'm just learning about, and I'd appreciate your input on them.

    These are techniques I picked up in Scott Kelby's book, Adobe Photoshop CD for Digital Photographers. (Awesome book)
    Moderator Emeritus
    Dgrin FAQ | Me | Workshops
  • wxwaxwxwax Immoderator Registered Users Posts: 15,471 Major grins
    edited August 20, 2004
    More shots here using Andy's night shot post-processing technique. clap.gif
    Sid.
    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam
    http://www.mcneel.com/users/jb/foghorn/ill_shut_up.au
  • com3com3 4theriders.com Registered Users Posts: 423 Major grins
    edited June 18, 2007
    great tutorial! i have NO experience using masks for anything... in fact, i so very rarely even shoot in raw... *shrugs*
  • canoflancanoflan Major grins Registered Users Posts: 168 Major grins
    edited June 20, 2007
    LAB process
    I wonder how well this would have worked straight into LAB after white balancing in RAW? I recently began going through some Alaskan cruise pics with severe overcasting and haziness and LAB cut right through it. My wife couldn't believe it when I showed her how quick I could take an almost entirely gray pick and bring out greens, blues, purples and sometimes orange from the sun where it didn't appear to be in the first place.

    I bet that a couple of simple a b straight line curve adjustments and L curve and this would really look good as well.

    I would like to try it with permission. Let me know.

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