October 12, 2006

Seoul, Korea at Dawn

Canon EOS Digital Rebel / EF 17-40mm @ 40mm
f-4 / 1/15sec. / 200 ISO

3 photos Shot Raw and processed via Canon's DPP. The 3 photos were stitched together with Canon's Photo Stitch software. Adobe Photoshop CS2 was used to sharpen and color correct the image. I used Captain David Raboin's advice on bringing out the best in a cityscape. I will post it below since it is a rather obscure link...


Dave's Advice on Cityscapes:

My trick for cityscapes is to sharpen way way more than I would for a normal pic. Before I do anything to the photo I run it though unsharp mask two to four times. The first time I set the levels to amount 150, radius 1.5, threshold 1.0. Those numbers are huge, but it works. I then sharpen it again at amount 20, radius 50, threshold 0. After that I may sharpen it one more time depending on how the pic looks. It is an art. Experiment. If you screw up just hit the undue button.

After sharpening, I crank up the contrast. I am extreme with the contrast too. I'll set the slider anywhere from +20 to +40. It all depends on the photo. Play with it a bit.

The last step is to play with the colors and levels. Most the pics I take out the window have a strange color cast and the levels are all wrong. I've found that most of my pics need the midtones and shadows darkened and the highlights lightened. This is also an art and totally depends on the photo. One of the strange things I've found is that I have to add a lot of red in either the midtones or shadows. If you can't figure out why your pic doesn't work try adding red. Same goes for reducing green. Sometimes taking out a little green makes a huge difference. As for the highlights, they are different. I find they need blue added to make things look natural. A lot of times the highlights will have a slightly red or green cast that needs to be removed.

If the picture has a lot of trees or water, use the magic wand tool to select the trees or water and then correct those colors seperately. I've found tree need lots of green added. Water is a nightmare. Good luck with that.

After doing all this, I will try auto levels. If you did things right, when you hit the auto levels comand only slight changes will be made. I find the auto levels smooths out the rough edges and makes the pic look more natural. Why not just hit auto levels to start with? Most of my pics from the air are so screwed up that auto levels doesn't have a clue what to do to fix things. Auto levels really doesn't help until you have your photo fixed manually.

Here's a before and after so you can see the massive amount of editting that goes into my cityscapes.

Before: http://www.pbase.com/rbndave/image/43483440
After: http://www.pbase.com/rbndave/image/36933356

I forgot the most important part. You have to start with a fixable photo. Make sure the sun is front or side lighting the buildings. Also, haze is the killer. If it's hazy don't even bother getting out your camera. I get my best pics in the morning and evenings shortly after cold frontal passage.

Another trick is to use your sunvisor to block out glare. On the CRJ our sunvisor is detachable. I take it off the slider and hold it under the camera at the base of the window to shield any out any reflections. Before I figured out this trick I had a bunch of pics with reflections of approach plates or glare from the latches on my flight bag. The sunvisor trick made this Chicago photo possible. http://www.pbase.com/rbndave/image/42048657

Hope that helps.

Take your camera on every trip.


Come see my gallery at: http://www.pbase.com/skysaddle/profile

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