After-Before Friday Forum; Christmas Lights of Nuremberg

Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014
Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

Nuremberg, Bavaria’s 2nd largest city. On jan 2, 1945 the Allied bombers hit the city, hard. over 6000 people were killed and the city was reduced to rubble. Yet today the city, and the main square is impressive, using the original stone, almost all of the city’s main buildings, including the old castle and old churches has been rebuilt returning them to their former glory. It is stunning to walk into the main square and see these wonderful old buildings, built and then rebuilt a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit, and the strength of their will.

It’s Friday and time for the After-Before Forum image; each week Stacy Fischerr hosts a forum of photographers who contribute images, each photographer on their own blog site take time to describe their process to a finish image. Stacy’s blog post is a learning, and sharing forum, one I am happy to contribute to and learning from. Hope on over, to her site and check out what the other photographer are doing this week.
before images; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014
before images; copyright jmeyersforeman 2014

My final image showing above; Nuremberg Christmas Market began with the camera, in the main square.  These are difficult lighting conditions, bright lights in the shops, dark sky and no light on top of the Church. The tripod is a must, finally convinced I can’t do this handheld, and with the Camera on the tripod, I set the exposure at 100 ISO f16 for 30 seconds. I knew with this exposure that the highlights would be blown out, and there would be no detail in the Christmas booths, but the top of the Church should be exposed properly and this seemed as good a place to start as any! After the first exposure I took two more images, one 1 stop under exposed and then next 2 stops underexposed. In the final image the Church steeple is dark, but visible, but more importantly there is good, no great, but good detail in the Christmas Booths.

Back at the computer, in my case the laptop, I imported the photos into Lightroom, select the three photos then taking the photos into Photos shop using the tab at the top of the screen; Photo, edit in merge in photoshop HDR Pro in Photoshop,
Screenshot 2014-12-11 10.17.47
The program will merge the three photos, after Photoshop has worked its’ magic,  I open the Camera RAW Filter. to fixed a few spots, increased contrast. Camera RAW the basic adjustment tab is very similar to Lightroom, so while there I increased blacks and reduced the highlights slightly.
Next I want to fix the Lens Distortion
Screenshot 2014-12-11 10.21.50
Lens Distortion in Camera RAW is much the same as Lens Correction in Lightroom and this step could be done in Lightroom.  While in Photoshop I clone over the light flare that the street light was causing. Saving the HDR image back to Lightroom, I checked for Noise in the image, and using the noise deductions sliders I made the following adjustments.  luminance 32, detail 50 and contrast 6.
Once I am done with an image I like to close the file and leave it sit for a day, nothing changes with the photo while it sits, but I get to look at it with fresh eyes then next day. I think this is a good habit to get into, sometime we look at something for way to long and we are just happy to close the file, say done, when really there is more work to be done, we just can’t see it anymore, it just looks better than it did!
Going back the next day or next week gives us a chance to evaluate our processing choices, and make new choices and adjustments if necessary. In this example, I sent the files off to Stacy for her blog, no time for re-evaluation, the next day I noticed that some of the street light was still noticeable at the top of the frame, and completed the cloning on the sky to remove the flare from the street light.
I am sure there is more than one way to merge three images into one, and make these adjustments, I am learning as I go and if anyone has any suggestions I would be happy to hear them.
Hope on over to Stacy’s blog to see what the other photographers are doing, not only have I learned a lot from them about photography and processing images, I have learned a lot about my own process. Taking notes, being more conscious of what I was doing, and writing it down, thinking it through in a sequential order and more importantly wanting to get it right for the blog has helped give me insight into my work. It is a process I am incorporating into my workflow a little more often these days.
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14 thoughts on “After-Before Friday Forum; Christmas Lights of Nuremberg

  1. Nice job, Janice. I am still mystified by the HDR process, have yet to produce a good image with it. But this was an excellent example. I like your suggestion about letting an image rest for a day or longer and then coming back to it. I need to get more systematic about that. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Hi Robin, maybe it has something to do with the night shots that I am processing? I haven’t really tried it for daytime images, or with the Nik HDR software?! still so many variables…
      thanks for the comment Robin, it is always nice to hear fro you.

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      1. Couldn’t say whether daytime has an influence, since my experience with the technique is limited. A few times I have used it to produce some extreme, essentially non-photographic, looks which my painter friends like a lot. But I’m more interested in the dynamic range extension without it appearing to have been “treated” by HDR such as you have done here. But that is where I am finding difficulty.

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  2. The HDR has come out really great, not to strong or anything.
    You are right there are many ways to create HDR images. One thing I tend to do is Lens correction and noise reduction before I process the image as a HDR. THe noise reduction because during the HDR process noise is intensified, in reducing the noise first there should be less after the HDR process.

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    1. Hi Ben, I had thouht about doing Lens correction and noise before but since I am new to the process I thought working with the original would be best. I mights just go back and start over again doing it this way and how it works for me. thanks for your suggestions.

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  3. Such a wonderfully clear tutorial, Janice. And the comments from Ben and Robin are incredibly helpful as well. I have yet to try this technique – and that’s because I have yet to try bracketing. Merging bracketed shots seems like such a better method than trying to correct for under/overexposure within the same image. So thanks for a great roadmap about how to go about this. Love the final image – beautiful marketplace!

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    1. Hi Stacy, I am happy to hear you like the image, and that the tutorial was clear, writing out the steps to these post is much more difficult than I imagined, details that I have never really paid attention to now have to be shared with some fluidity that others might find helpful! But I must say that it has made me more conscious of the workflow, and from that I have learned as well, and I look foward to our next challenge in January, for now I am taking a my christmas break from the after-before forum.

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  4. What a great tutorial, you really took your time to explain all your steps. The technique of taking multiple images with different exposure and combining them in one is something I am planing to do. So, this was very helpful and what a great final result. Also, thank you for a bit of a history info, I always appreciate that.

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