Yesterday, I spent a wonderful day kicking off 2012 by shooting around New York City with some awesome photographers (thanks for the company,, , & !). 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?
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. :)
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