It’s day 11 of my Paris photography adventure, and although I didn’t make it to Montmartre, I did snap a few shots near the Opera house. The street layout in Paris is unique in that there are many central hubs from which roads radiate. It’s impressive to see but hard to capture on film. I used my iPhone to get this panorama, and you can see all 6 of the radiating roads in one image.
You can see in the upper right hand corner how the fading sunset was just catching the top of two of the buildings.
I didn’t like how dark the lower part of this picture was, so I used a graduated filter in Lightroom to lighten it up.
I use graduated filters a lot. They are quick and easy ways to selectively lighten or darken from the edges. You can also use these filters to gradually adjust other parameters such as contrast, saturation, etc.
You can also see how I cropped out the bottom portion of the image to focus more attention on the buildings. The sidewalk and the entrance to the Metro were doing nothing for this image. However, I still wanted to leave some of it showing to provide a point of reference. Cropping is another powerful tool. The most important aspect of photography is composition, and cropping lets you optimize that in post-processing.
Finally, I added some HDR to give it a little more punch.
HDR works best when you have 3 RAW files taken with different exposures, but you can use HDR even with 1 JPEG file. I shoot exclusively in RAW on my DSLR, but the iPhone only captures JPEG. The advantage of JPEG is it uses less memory, but the disadvantage is that your camera is throwing valuable information. The camera captures 12 bits of information, but a JPEG file only keeps 8. When you set your camera to shoot in JPEG, the camera decides which 4 bits of information to throw away. If you shoot in RAW format, you can make that decision yourself. This is important for HDR, where you can take full advantage of that extra information.
Nevertheless, even with 1 JPEG image, you can use HDR by creating two additional copies of the file and then adjusting the exposures +1 and -1 EV in the computer. You can then send all three of these files to your HDR program. You’re still missing quite a bit of data, but it’s better than nothing.
Here’s the opera house itself (enhanced with HDR):
Because I had my 70-200 mm super telephoto lens, I was able to zoom in closely to the golden figures, which were capturing my attention due to the interesting light.
Then I cropped in once I got back home to eliminate distracting elements:
Now you can really see what caught me attention, the beautiful glow on this figure.
Then I noticed similar light reflecting off the roof of another building. Repeating patterns can make for nice images.
I played around with this image for quite a while to get it the way I wanted. I tried HDR and graduated filters, but wasn’t satisfied. Then I turned to one of the many filters in the Google/Nik Color Efex collection. They have a preset recipe of filters called “Warm Sunset”, and this was exactly what I was looking for.
There are so many filters out there that it can be overwhelming. I’m still in the process of learning which ones I like, but they can be very powerful tools when used properly.
Here’s an example of how I used filters on an image I posted yesterday.
The original image looked like this:
There doesn’t seem to be any color in this image. It almost looks black and white. However, If you turn up the saturation you can bring out subtle colors that are hiding.
Isn’t that amazing? There’s some rich brown, green and purple tones which weren’t initially visible. I liked the hint of purple and wanted to enhance it even further, so I put it through the Purple Film recipe in Color Efex, which gave me the final result. You can also see that I cropped the image slightly.
By cropping out part of the image I didn’t want, I effectively filled up the image with the parts that I did want. It looks like I zoomed in on the gargoyle, but that’s just an optical illusion from cropping.
That’s it for today. Hopefully I will make it to Montmartre tomorrow.