On Knowing How To Use Post Production Tools To Make The Shot Work

By |2012-01-02T09:09:16+00:00Jan 2nd, 2012|

Yesterday, I spent a wonderful day kicking off 2012 by shooting around New York City with some awesome photographers (thanks for the company, +Chris Robins, +Scott Wyden Kivowitz, & +Nicole S. Young!). Yesterday was the third consecutive New Years Day that I spent shooting all day in a major city. There is an unusual quietness and mellow calm on January 1st and I love trying to take advantage of these times while so many hangovers are tended to. :)

A large chunk of the day was spent shooting around the Lower East Side of Manhattan, as well as on the Williamsburg Bridge. There was plenty of quiet and calm there….

…and then there was Rockefeller Center.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how I prefer not to have people in my images. Today’s post is more about those times when it is simply an impossibility to avoid having people in your shot. As you can see and expect, Rockefeller Center was teeming with people. Hordes. Swarms. Schools. Whatever the group unit of choice, there were thousands upon thousands.

So, what’s a boy to do here? Do I just fold up my tripod and forfeit the shot because there are so many people?

Hells no!

We are digital photographers. As such, we have an expanded set of post processing tools at our disposal, giving us an unprecedented amount of routes to take in order to make the image work.

What this also means is that we have to think about our shots in two temporal dimensions. First, we have to think about how we are going to compose and frame the shot in the present tense. What lens to use, which orientation, and how to maximize aperture/shutter speed to achieve your vision.

But secondly, we have to think about how we are going to process the image on our computers in the future tense. In the case of this image, I bracketed it with nine exposures so I could tone-map it later on and get the full dynamic range of the scene. The problem with HDR tone-mapping comes about when you have any moving elements in your scene – namely, this swarm of people. The result would be ghost city.

However, knowing that Photomatix (the tone-mapping engine that I currently use) has a very nice manual ghost removal tool in place, I wasn’t phased by the movement at all. I knew that I could mitigate it in Post and, as you can see, the results are certainly acceptable.

So, the point here is to remind you that you have some pretty damn powerful tools in post processing at your disposal. Knowing how to effectively implement them can help you focus more on the task at hand, which is to get the best possible frames while you’re there in the moment.

Post Processing Hangout!
I am going to have a hangout next week after I return from NYC to show how I processed this image from start to finish, including the HDR tone-mapping steps. I’ll post more info about it later this week. :)

In album Pic Picks Over The Years (102 photos)


[map w="745" h="130" lat="40.758719" lon="-73.978503" marker="yes" z="18" maptype="SATELLITE" 680 /]

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  1. Pedro Tavares January 2, 2012 at 8:35 am - Reply

    Can you please record the hangout for people that wont be able to make it? sometimes gets pretty hard to get into a hangout because of the 10 people limit ;)

  2. Chris DeAngelis January 2, 2012 at 8:36 am - Reply

    Great shot Brian and Happy New Year!

  3. Brian Matiash January 2, 2012 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Thanks, +Chris DeAngelis!

    Sure, +Pedro Tavares. I think I can get that session recorded.

  4. tim dalton January 2, 2012 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Looking forward to it.

  5. Pedro Tavares January 2, 2012 at 8:38 am - Reply

    That would be great, thanks for sharing and happy new year that this year you will take more photos than the previous :D

  6. Liz Dessi January 2, 2012 at 9:31 am - Reply

    This is a really good photo. Am trying really hard to move from amateur to advanced amateur, if there is such a thing! I am having some luck with my photos, including winning our local club's shot of the month for October, so…I'm getting there! So much to learn…

  7. Peter Sumner January 2, 2012 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Looking at some of your photos in your "Pic Picks Over The Years" I see wonderful rich moody shots. Deep blacks, rich colours and even a brooding quality to some. Great stuff. I agree with the idea of no people as they can be a distracting element.

  8. Joerg Jung January 2, 2012 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Great shot, +Brian Matiash – and recording the hangout would be wonderful :)

  9. Magnus Fohlman January 2, 2012 at 11:25 am - Reply

    I don´t know if it would work, but isn´t possible to ghost out all the movement by using a "big stopper" and a long exposure? Just a thought…

  10. Darren Clark January 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    +Brian Matiash Great post! I was out this afternoon and shot some HDR inside a local train station. Could not avoid people and movement, even though I tried to grab each exposure with as few people walking around. I'll run them through Photomatix later today and see what comes up. Cheers!

  11. Lynden Smith January 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Great photo Brian!

  12. Jim Denham January 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Great tips and things to think about while out shooting! Love the angle and comp of the image, too. I think the addition of people in the image can tell a great deal about the story behind the image, especially in a place like this one. Even the blurrage gives a sense of constant movement, which is also likely in this spot! Good stuff as always Brian!

  13. Aaron January 2, 2012 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Would be curious to see the workflow on this one. It came out very well.

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