Blue Hour photo
The ‘making photo #1’ was the post processing for the sunset or twilight theme, so called Golden Hour. This photograph is taken in the Blue hour, right after sunset when sky turn into deep blue before becoming black. In fact, these 2 time frames, Golden and Blue are almost exclusive shutter chance in Cityscape & Landscape color photography I think .
– Blue hour photo : OudeKerk, Amsterdam –
Goal of Blue Hour preset : Dduk-bojung preset #2
The night view recorded by the human eye and the night scene recorded by the image sensor are fundamentally different. Because the sight of the human eye is processed by the brain, it becomes a more brilliant, warm and beautiful scene easily. Joy of traveling and a beer with a dinner make a whimsical atmosphere, resulted a beautiful night scene, warm & brilliant mood in memory.
On the other hand, the image sensor of the camera records the high or low of the lighting level, and no way to capture the feeling or impression of the photographer, it records faithfully digital numbers pixel by pixel in the file.. That’s a raw file and yes, it is very dry & flat.
The goal of Blue Hour presets is to get the feeling recorded by brain out of the dry & flat raw file.
– Original photo –
At first glance, it’s not as impressive, but being a raw file this is good condition with ample amount of information.
At first, I do basic and mechanical adjustment. Horizontal alignment, sensor dust removal and trimming.
The ‘no parking’ sign on the left end was too cluttered, so I decided to cut out of the screen. And church bell tower too …hesitate awhile but to avoid deep blue sky covers too large area in the photo, and to shift viewer’s focus to the canal and ship passing light. Vertical transform was manually adjusted to -5. (Auto adjust works well many times, but not in this picture …)
Determining the Color of a Photo
The foremost thing in color photo processing is the ‘color selection’ of the entire picture. I went through couple of pre-defined White Balance set in the Lightroom to see the mood, for example Daylight WB as below picture. In the Daylight WB, street lamps warm up that I like them much, but the sky falls into to azure blue awkwardly and close to muddy grey. There is NO blue light….
It would be nice to start with the Fluorescent WB which expresses the sky in a clear blue color, and then change streetlight only to Daylight WB feeling.
Sometimes I cross over color balance to inject creativeness but most of time, settle 7000K color temperatures for the Golden hour and about 3000K for Blue hours. Of course, there is no concrete rule. It is personal taste & depending on individual photo.
Light up the dark area and bring the details
- Initially set Highlights -100, Shadows +100 to bring the most details in the file
- While pressing ALT, adjust White and Black so that no clipping occurs. Set to +52, -17
- I look over the picture as a whole, and adjust Highlight -90, Shadow +90 to boost a little contrast. That will make slightly loss details in dark area, but it should be OK as a night scene.
- Adjust Contrast +29 and Clarity +20 to make the picture sharp & pop…. I’ll go with these setting in this time, but next time I’ll try lowering both the contrast and the clarity.
The feeling of streetlight
Because the basic color of the picture set to blue as 3950K WB, the color of the street light is weakened and the mood is considerably cool down. It is ‘Split Toning’ that brings the bright and warm lighting back.
The principle is simple. Since the streetlight corresponds to the Highlights in the picture, add orange color (51) to highlight area and boost strength (15). This will make streetlight warmer and vivid.
On the other hand, shadow area is covered with blue color already. In here, I add a little extra strength (5) in blue color (223), but it seems OK even without extra blue touch at all.
Dodging and Burning
Dodging and Burning is making a portion of the picture brighter or darker with a circular selection tool or brush tool. In this photo, I didn’t do much. I only added a little lighting to the men and women on the right side of the street (dodging).
Dodging and Burning should be subtle, otherwise looks fake instantly. It is best to be subtle even you are not sure whether did it or not when you saw the picture later.
Sharpen and Noise Reduction
At ISO 100, noise reduction is not necessary in most of case. But long exposure at a low light level, the noise will appear in the shadow area. The amount of noise reduction and sharpness largely depends on the camera model and size of the file. As a reference, I give the Sharpen from 50 to 80 for the 42 mega file of Sony A7R II usually and for night scenes with long exposures, I often give (70, 50, 10) as below
Add to Preset list
Once the picture is complete (post processing finished), you can put the setting in the preset library and apply to photos taken in similar condition. It shorten working time especially when retouch multiple pictures. The settings for the repeating parts are applied in batches, and work on individual pictures.
Old Church area : Point of Shooting
The second point of this area is the angle for the bridge and dome on the other side of the old church. The bridge shown is the place to take the first photo.
This picture was relatively too bluish because the light of the street light was small. I applied the preset according to the picture taken timing, but it looks not nice as first photo. Or probably I need to try different trimming, more panoramic view of the bridge and street light….
The third point is where the canal bifurcates just past the bridge. Unfortunately, this point is occupied by open-air café tables. It is not easy to have an angle for the intersection of waterways in the early evening. I think the tables wrap up in the late night, thus provide good shooting point but I am not sure how the lighting will be at late night … I will try this point again next time.