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Day 8 of “I’m Giving Up Photoshop” Month (New York City)

Welcome to Day 8 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: New York City Skyline
This photo was taken from Brooklyn Bridge Park. I’m not a big street photographer so I wasn’t even going to bring my camera the last time I went to New York. But after I did some searching on, I found this location. If you saw the photo from the other day and watched my Long Exposure Photography class on, then you’ll know I’m a sucker for anything with pilings in front of it 😉 So I figured I’d bring my gear and go shoot sunset.

(click to see the image larger)

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 18-35mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 90 seconds
ISO: 100
Filter: Tiffen 3-stop ND filter

Basic Processing
The photo wast taken just after sunset so I moved the Temp slider toward the blue side and the Tint slider toward the magenta side to enhance that “twilight” feel. I opened up the Shadows quite a bit for the pilings in the foreground. Then I adjusted the Whites/Blacks by Alt clicking on the slider and dragging them to set a good white and black point. I also added some Clarity for some extra contrast, and a little Saturation to boost the color.


Sharpening and Lens Correction
I went to the Detail panel and increased the Amount, Radius, and Detail settings until the pilings in the foreground looked nice and sharp.


Then I went to the Lens Correction panel and checked the Enable Profile Corrections option. It didn’t fix the slight vertical perspective problems and the buildings looked like they were leaning in a little. So I went to the Manual tab and adjusted the Vertical setting. Don’t forget to go back to the Basic tab and click Constraint Crop to get rid of the blank area that gets left around the edges when you adjust perspective.


Detailed Adjustments
Next I went to the Adjustment Brush for some detailed adjustments. First, I thought the pilings toward the bottom were too bright. So I increased the Exposure and darkened a few of them. They also had a little bit of a green-ish color so I reduced the Saturation slider too.


From there, I wanted to enhance the warmth of the buildings as well as the contrast. I added a new adjustment and increased the Temp, Highlights, and Clarity sliders. Then I painted on the buildings. I always find that the mixture of the cool colors in the sky, and warm colors from the lights really helps make a nice contrast.


A Quick Retouch
There’s a small shadow up front (on the bottom middle area) so I grabbed the Spot Removal tool and painted over it with the Brush set to Heal mode.


Finishing it Off With a Vignette
Yep, you can guess where this is going. 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?
There’s really only one thing I missed here. onOne’s Perfect Effects Dynamic Contrast plug-in has become my go-to plug-in for contrast and detail. It really does great on cityscapes with the buildings and helps make ’em stand out. So if I were using plug-ins then I’d have used it here. That’s about it though. Here’s the Before/After.

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Have a great weekend!