Friday, January 16, 2015

The color differences when photographing night scenes

Last night I re-photographed a scene of lower Manhattan with the Flatiron Building because the weather was slightly overcast and I knew this meant that the overall lighting would move to a blue tint, which is what I wanted. Previously I had photographed the same scene on a clear day, and, as expected, the scene tended towards a warmer palette. I thought it might make an interesting blog post to show the difference between the two types of lighting. In both examples below I did punch up the colors a bit to make them more vibrant, but did not alter their actual tones. In both cases the photos were taken about a half hour after sunset with a Nikon D810 and 70-200mm f/4 lens.

This is the scene on a sunny day after the sun has set. The entire palette tended towards warmer tones.

In this photograph taken only one week later but on a day with a thin cloud covering the entire scene tended towards blue except for the artificial lights, which kept their normal warm tone. My main reason for re-photographing this scene on a cloudy day was to achieve the contrast of colors between the blue scene and warm colored lights. This photo is a combination of two exposures -- one exposure at a slow 8 seconds and f/8 to record the blurred traffic, and the other underexposed at 2 seconds to record detail in the building windows that came in overly bright in the 8 second exposure. 

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