Day 7 of “I’m Giving Up Photoshop” Month (San Francisco Long Exposure)

Welcome to Day 7 in my self-project-ish, month-long postings of images I’m only using Lightroom to edit. If you’re just coming in to reading this and haven’t read the original post where I wrote why I’m doing this, then make sure you check that out too. Okay, here goes:

The Photo: The Bay Bridge in San Francisco
Okay, I’m kinda cheating today because this one is really easy. I was torn though. I just arrived in San Francisco and I’m beat from a long day of travel and a late dinner. So, I could just not post anything for the day. Or… I could post a quick edit of a photo I just took this evening. I’ll go with choice B okay? πŸ™‚

I took this photo at sunset yesterday evening. I’m in San Francisco for the week, and decided to walk down to the Embarcadero and shoot the Bay Bridge from a popular spot. It was an absolutely cloudless sunset, but it was a great view nonetheless, with nearly a full moon.

(click to see the image larger)

Photo Details:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon 24-105mm (quickly becoming my favorite lens!)
Aperture: f/11
Shutter Speed: 30 seconds
ISO: 100
Filter: Tiffen 3-stop ND filter

Basic Processing
Overall I had to brighten the photo because it was underexposed. I mostly used the Exposure and Shadows adjustments for it. I also pulled back on the Highlights to tone down the sky a little. And since it was just after sunset, I adjusted the white balance sliders to give me that twilight/blue-hour-ish look. A little more blue under Temp, and a little magenta under Tint go a long way.


Not too much new here. I’m finding the 5D3 files really sharp out of camera. I increased the Amount, Radius, and Detail settings until the pilings in the foreground looked nice and sharp.


Finishing it Off With a Vignette
As you probably know by now, I finish everything off with a vignette. I used the Effects panel for this photo and added a vignette, as well as adjusting the Midpoint and Feather settings so it looks more natural.


What Else?
So what’s missing? Nuttin’ There’s really not much more I’d do for this photo. There’s not much to retouch that the Spot Removal tool Brush couldn’t get rid of. So overall, Lightroom was all I used for this photo. Here’s the Before/After.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!


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  1. Matt, the people’s icons, including yours, it’s cutting off the first few letters of each reply post. I’ve noticed this on every single page of this blog. The icons are too big and need to be moved more to the left so they don’t interfere. Can you check the settings on the page to fix? I’m viewing/reading these pages using my Kindle Fire HDX 7″ tablet. My two pc’s are down for the count right now so can’t check there (and sadly also can’t play around with my copy of Lightroom either to learn by doing myself πŸ™ ) thanks for the great articles.just goes to show you don’t need expensive photoshop and you don’t need to spend hours to edit a photo either. Keep it up.

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  2. Matt .. just wondering, given you were shooting after sunset anyway, what was yrou reasoning for using a 3stop ND filter? During the day I would have too but not at that time given light. Just curious. Thanks, John

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    • Hey John. I still couldn’t get as long of a shutter speed as I wanted so I put the ND filter on.

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  3. Matt I live in sacramento and I can’t wait to take your tips and go back to San Fran to shoot. I really appreciate your down to earth style of teaching and sometimes you are quite funny. You make me want to try different approaches to my photos I just wanted to say thanks!

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  4. Hi Matt I have 24-105 f4 on 5D mkiii. Not the sharpest canon lens but well priced and versatile. Really like your landscape work.

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  5. I just got my Canon T3I and Lightroom for Christmas. Is there a particular walk around lens I should look at getting?

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    • On a crop sensor camera, the 24-105 will not be as versatile as it is on the 5D3 (a full frame camera), because the wide end becomes almost normal (38 mm full frame equivalent).
      I got myself an EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 or my 60D (also a crop sensor camera) and could not be happier. It’s very fast and sharp, albeit a little expensive.
      Happy shooting!

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      • Thanks, my friend at work said I should get a Tamron AF 18-270mm so I could have one lens to walk around with. Thoughts?

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  6. Matt: Your exposure data indicates a 30 second exposure. How is it that the moon did not streak across the sky in such a long exposure? Since the moon moves across the sky a distance equal to its own diameter every 2.1 minutes due to the combined motion of the earth and the moon, it would have moved ~ΒΌ of its diameter in your 30 sec exposure.
    Thx for the series.

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    • It’s also based on focal length. It’s kind of like shooting stars. If you use a 200mm zoom lens and shoot stars, you have to shoot at a faster shutter speed than if you shoot them at 14mm, because you’ll notice the movement when you’re zoomed in. With a wide angle lens, you won’t notice any significant movement in the moon, over the course of 30 seconds.

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  7. Thanks for delivering a lesson even after a long day and a short night. Some of the best images need the least tweaking. Knowing when to stop and just leaving it alone is important, too!

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  8. I also like the Canon 24-105mm f/4L lens a lot. For me, it’s more versatile than the bigger and heavier 24-70mm f/2.8L.

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  9. When sharpening a photo, you have repeated the sequence “increase the amount, radius and detail” each of the past several days. Doesn’t this create noise and require you to also use the luminance sliders to decrease the noise?

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    • Hey Larry. It does create a tiny bit of texture on the image. You won’t notice it on screen unless you zoom in (which I don’t worry about because I don’t put a zoom feature in my portfolio). And that texture will smooth out when printing, so it’s not an issue.

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  10. I am really enjoying this series of posts Matt. I have often asked myself why I was going into Photoshop to finish off an image after making Lightroom adjustments. More often than not, I find myself not doing anything.

    On an unrelated note, forgive me, I couldn’t help but ask, have you given up your D800 for good?

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    • Hi Leigh. Canon got some gear in to my hands and I’ve been shooting the Canon 5D3 for the past couple of months, and really like it. As a camera, when it comes to settings and ease-of-use, I like it more personally.
      Not sure what I’m going to do with my D800 and if I’ve given it up for good, but I haven’t felt the need to go back to it. That said, I’ll most likely shoot both from time to time, because I speak to both Canon and Nikon shooters – that way, I think it helps me to be well versed in both, so I can help anyone out.

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  11. Hi Matt,

    Great capture and super job on the processing … and it was quick and simple. I noticed in the camera specs you used a Tiffen ND 3 stop filter? This maybe a stupid question, but how does that compare to the Lee? I’ve always tried to get that twilight look, but never been happy with what I do. Something to practice on. :-). Have Great time in SF.


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    • I use the Tiffen circular screw-on filters for 3, 4, 6, 9 stops. I have the Lee as my 10 stop. So when it’s semi dark (twilight-ish), I usually use the Tiffens. If it’s lighter out, then I go with the 10-stop Lee. As for the twilight look, I find the best time to get it is at twilight πŸ˜‰ LOL!
      Thanks Dennis! πŸ™‚

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  12. What do you think of the new bay bridge? A little more spectacular in photos, yeah?

    Thanks for the tip on the blue/magenta. Really makes a difference in the tone of the sky. Very pretty.

    If you have another chance for more photos – Treasure Island offers a good view of the city skyline and the bay bridge. On a clear day I think you can see the Golden Gate Bridge from there too.

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    • Thanks Christine! It definitely looks cool. I wanted to stand there and stare at it, rather than shoot πŸ™‚
      I’ll try to check out Treasure Island.

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  13. When I read the title “I’m giving up Photoshop month”, I thought – this sounds great! What’s he going to do? Not edit his photos at all? Use GIMP? Use Paint? Use film?!

    And then I read you’re using Lightroom instead.

    The RAW engine behind Lightroom is the same as the RAW engine behind Photoshop.

    Isn’t this a little like using a blue fork rather than a red fork? Unless you’re heavily into compositing images, there is little you can do in Photoshop that you can’t do in Lightroom.

    I can’t say this is exactly like giving up chocolate or alcohol for a month.

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    • Did you read the first post in this series. I don’t think so. Otherwise you wouldn’t be posting a disrespectful comment like this would you?

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        • Hi,
          I don’t think your post was disrespectful but you seem to have a different idea of the power of Photoshop than most people.

          First of all, Camera RAW – which indeed is included in Photoshop – is a separate module. It’s still considered as an add-on in PS as the functionality of PS doesn’t depend on it (of course the user profits immensely from it).

          Camera RAW is also included, albeit in a limited version, into PS Elements which you may agree seems like a different product compared to “standard PS”.

          Lightroom uses the same engine in Camera RAW but integrates it as a core module and you can’t sadly update it with a more recent Camera RAW download version. You need to get a new LR version in this case.
          What’s the advantage of this integration: In LR you can *always* go back into develop mode and change the parameters of the RAW interpretation/conversion. In PS you haven’t the same level of control (although it increased with newer versions).

          About compositing images: This is perhaps what defines PS – so getting rid of it (for even a month) limits you massively in what you can do with your images.
          If you only use LR this means no layers, for a start, which means you can’t combine images at all. This is decisive for many image editing functions.
          LR also offers no panorama support, no HDR processing, way less effects and other handy stuff (like the “semi-intelligent” fill function). And I’m not even mentioning the new stuff like improving unsharp images etc.

          Yes, LR still offers much, but most functions still only operate on the whole image (which of course is the intention) and while certain area functions have been included and sometimes improved over the years (like the selective brush) there’s still a lot of ground that isn’t covered.

          I can only imagine how crippled a PS user would feel if he loses most of its features and is restricted to LR (and not even using third party products). While I think it’s possible to survive a month – and even yield impressive results – Matt will feel relieved when he can use certain PS functions again. πŸ˜‰

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  14. Great image Matt!

    Is there some angle or lens correction adjustment here too? The uprights in the foreground and on the bridge look to have changed slightly in the before / after.


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    • Hi Matt,

      Great series of posts. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

      I’m a beginning hobby photographer. I acquired Lightroom mostly because of its cataloging capacities for my family photos. However, I just recently switched to shoot in RAW and am now interested in discovering what LR can do. Hence my interest in this series.
      What I want to ask is if it’d be possible if you’d post the original RAW file for each of your posts so beginners like me could go along with your tips? My catalog is currently mostly family photos so I don’t always have adequate photos to duplicate your tips.

      Of course I understand if you don’t want to post the original file due to copyright issues.

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