Let There Be Light, When The Light Isn’t Right

Sometimes The Light Isn’t Right

For the majority of my life I lived in NYC metro area and for the times I now visit,  if I was not going to the theater, I carried my camera.

A city is a wonderful place to collect photos, and I have several thousand photos of people, buildings, streets and artifacts in NYC.  In other situations,  particularly if  I have my telephoto lens handy,  I will shoot people and street scenes.

Over several trips,  I walked into unexpected situations, regarding light.

In the photo below,  my wife was at MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) with a friend.  After and hour or so,  I was done with the museum so I went out on a photo shot.  I met Susan later and we started walking toward our car,  and i saw the a street shot that spoke to me.
I said:  “I need this shot.”
She said: “Doesn’t look that interesting.”
I said: ” I have and idea for it.”  I am not sure why I said that, as my wife was right,  it was not that interesting a shot, in of itself.  I do not even remember having a specific idea,  just a vague feeling that I would enjoy working with this.
She said: “Should I go for a cup of coffee?”  She never knows how long I will be.  Sometimes Susan will say,  “I’ll wait, take your time.”  That really means,  “You have five minutes.”
In this particular situation, I had the shot I wanted in two minutes.  Walking back to the car, however, I wondered if perhaps I missed some angles.  Anyway, I brought it  home and loaded it up.

the light isn't right

Sometimes I see a shot, where the light is blah, but I have an idea in my head.   Above is some street in NYC shot at 1/160 f6.3, 28mm, iso 100.

The first thing I do, whenever, I modify a photo is make a duplicate layer.  (While some things can be done with layer masks, I am just more comfortable with duplicate layers).   I also rename each layer and rarely merge layers, even when finished.  The photo above is the same PS .psd and the one below.  I just turned some layers off and Saved As.  

More and more I find it simpler to get the results I want with add ons like Topaz Adjust & Restyle or other programs of that ilk.  For this photo, I used a program called Landscape Pro 3 (landscape example is below).  It is from a U.K. company called Anthropics.  Here is the photo.  What I did to achieve this look is below the photo.

NYC Golden Hour

Sometimes you can make the light perfect! All within Landscape Pro you can:

  • map the sky, buildings, road, cars, etc.
  • replace the sky with one of theirs, or one of your own
  • use a slider to drag as much as the sky coloration into the photo as you want
  • change or leave the cloud and atmosphere colors
  • use presets and/or sliders for each object, like buildings
  • direct where the light source will be

An example of work done on a landscape in Joshua Tree Park before and after:

Joshua Tree Park
Actually a nice photo, but no real pop
Joshua Tree Park
The new sky really adds pop. I only made slight adjustments to the other parts of the photo.

The results here were outstanding.  The only downside is, once you save, you cannot re edit, you need to start over, if you are less than satisfied.

Okay, all this can be done in Photoshop directly.  Much of it can also be done in Lightroom and other photo editors as well as many other add on programs from Topaz Labs, ON1 and Mysticalgen.   My goal, however, is always to get the results I want as simply as possible.


Building of NYC – Good Light

Also see my Photostream on Flickr Unsplash

Comments are welcome, below.


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