Sunday, January 24, 2016

What a difference a day makes

All day yesterday the storm was upon us with gusting winds and swirling snow. Today we awoke to a clear sunny sky. The winds from the storm blew all the snow from the trees so there wasn't much to photograph in the parks, however we did have a beautiful sunset. As I was on my way to photograph the city with the World Trade Center I happened upon this scene. It was in complete contrast to what I had been photographing just the day before, and the dichotomy between the two days made me pause to grab a shot.

A situation like this is where a good camera shows its stuff. The flowers were indoors in front of a large glass window. It was bright indoors but definitely not bright enough to pull off a perfect shot in one exposure. The flowers were in shadow and the background city scene was fully lit by the setting sun. I took four exposures of the scene with the idea of combining the exposures later. Instead, when I brought one of the shots with full detail in the highlights into Adobe Camera Raw, I attempted to open up the shadows to see if I could pull off the photo from one shot instead of stacking the different exposures.  

I was using a Nikon D810, which is one of the best cameras in the world for dynamic range and low shadow noise. Without it I might not have been so successful. When balancing a shot like this it is important to begin with an image that retains some detail in the brightest area. Without detail you have nothing to work with when you go to darken the light areas. 

One thing to keep in mind when opening up shadows like this is that you are effectively increasing the ISO in that area, and than means you get the noise that comes with it. I judged that the noise was slight enough to deal with later so I continued. The sample above is what the photo looked like before I began to open the shadows and dim down some of the sky highlights. 

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