After Before Friday Forum; Ferris Wheels in Berlin

Ferris Wheel and Berlin Needle; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014
Ferris Wheel and Berlin Needle; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

One of the things I didn’t expect when we decided to visit the Christmas Markets of Berlin was all the amusement rides, but they are at every market, and they are packed with people. I know I have mentioned a time or two about how cold it is, but the German people are hardy souls, you have to be to ride one of these when the thermometer tells us it is zero Celsius and there is already a 15k wind blowing, just how cold is it up there?

It’s Friday, and this image is my contribution to Stacy Fishers After-Before Forum, several photographer submit images and explains the steps they take to process their final image. Stacy usually does a video blog, it is fun to watch her work through an image in Lightroom. It is a great place to learn more about processing digital images, and learning from other photographers.

For this image started with two images

Take at different exposures, a tripod is a must, one exposure .3 sec the next exposure for 30 seconds. Both images are in my Lightroom Catalogue and open in Photoshop as layers. This stacks one image on top of the other, by changing the opacity of the upper image to 47% I am able to see the image of the ferris wheel cars through the light blur. As everything else in the image is stationary, this is the only thing that changes. This gives us an image showing the ferris wheel cars with the sense of movement, something I wasn’t able to achieve with the camera alone, the ferris wheel cars were just a blur.

After that I flattened the image, creating one layer, and using the Camera Raw filter I made some adjustments in the basic panel; contrast +23, black -18, clarity +30, and vibrancy +30. In lens correction I removed chromatic aberration, and auto adjuster for lens distortion.  If you are unfamiliar with Camera Raw and would like more information let me know, but Camera Raw works very similar to Lightroom for these basic adjustments and it is possible that I could have done them in Lightroom as well, I chose to do them in Photoshop while I had the files open. There are no magic numbers to adjusting contrast, blacks, clarity or vibrancy, I usually move the sliders to what looks good to me on my screen.

The Berlin Needle in the top left of the image was not very well-lit, moving the black slider too far to the left plunged it into darkness, so that was one of my control points.

My next step was to save the file, and return to the Lightroom catalogue where I followed up with some minor noise adjustments, and made another adjustment for lens correction. I then cropped the image eliminating the car lights and mobile trailers out of the bottom of the image, helping to focus attention on the three subjects of interest.

The final image isn’t perfect, there is some slight movement between frames, and I didn’t get perfect alignment. A good reminder to lock up my mirror, and use the shutter timer when releasing the shutter. Both of these steps will hopefully eliminate any minor movement. It was however quite windy that night, it is always a good idea to weigh down the tripod as well, even the wind blowing the camera strap around can cause slight camera movement.

Just a note to those who are interesting in the process I did take several images at different shutter speeds, so I had several choices to work from. I can visualize the image I want, but I don’t always know how they are going to fit together during the process, more frames with different variables is always a good idea.


15 thoughts on “After Before Friday Forum; Ferris Wheels in Berlin

  1. Janice, I really enjoyed learning not only about your post-processing, but your tips for shooting to merge photos. What an absolutely stunning result you created out of the two images you chose. I never would have guessed the underlying method and wouldn’t have even visualized in this situation what merging could accomplish. But now that you’ve shown what can be achieved by combining motion/freezing, I’m excited to look for opportunities to try it out. Fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the tutorial 🙂

    Have you tried using masks? I was thinking when you were in Camera Raw you could think about using levels (or whatever) to bring out the tower and masking the rest of the photo to hide the levels corrections to all but the tower. I use masks on almost every photo and I also use selective sharpening with the hi-pass filter and masking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Stewart, I am happy to hear you like the tutorial, I haven’t used masks very much, it is a tool that I am not very familiar with, but should learn more about. Maybe after Christmas I will experiment a little more with some of the photos I am taking!.


      1. Masking opened a door for me in PS (and you know how hard that is!). Inside that door was a world of difference – all kinds of effects are a few seconds away with masks… effects I have toiled with for too long are now simple to achieve! For me, Simple is good 🙂


  3. Seeing what you have achieved here I think it might be time to cave and get Photoshop for myself. But I don’t even feel like I have a handle on Lightroom yet. It sounds like this did not take you long at all to achieve. But what an image. Neither original shot of yours does the ferris wheel justice- though both are very good shots. Combined, though, was a great idea! And a great visual!


    1. Hi Emilio, thanks for you kind words, you are right this did not take long to achieve, and photoshop does the hard work, most of the adjustments that are needed can be done in Lightroom either before or after the two layers are combined. I have seen your work, I am sure you could handle this with ease.


  4. I have read something similar to this technique before for night photography. I really like how the movement from the longer and lighter exposure is transferred and adds more detail to the shorter and darker layer. Really nice, I will have to give it a go myself.


    1. Hi Ben, I am pretty sure I read about it somewhere sometime, and the nugget of info stuck in my brain until I needed it! It is nice to hear you like the results. Let me know if you give it a try I would love to see the results.


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