Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

My favorite!
My favorite!

One of the things I enjoy is working with difficult photos to process them and turn into something pretty.  I also try different things and thought I’d let you see my process.

Here’s the original photo, straight from the camera, of a bay window at night in Charleston, South Carolina:

Straight out of the camera.  Not much to it. . . yet.
Straight out of the camera. Not much to it. . . yet.

The lamp is overly bright (i.e., blown out), so I went with one of the darker photos in the bracketed series (bracketing is where I set my camera to take multiple shots, one at the right setting, one darker, and one lighter).  The lamp is still blown out here, but maybe I can do something with it.

I straightened the picture vertically, using the corner of the window that’s in the middle.  Unfortunately, my pictures usually need to be straightened out.  Because of that, I try to leave enough space around them so when I straighten them in Lightroom, they still look good.  Lightroom has some awesome tools to help with straightening out photos, so it’s not just me that takes them crooked!

After that, I put the picture into Photoshop to remove the excess noise and correct the skew on the left side of the photo.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite enough room on the left, so the top corner is slightly clipped.

The noise (or grain from using a high ISO) is still there, but far less.  I could have removed more of it, but I didn’t like how the photo looked.  I went with just taming it down.

Then I started playing!  I tried to fix the blown out light with Topaz Star Effects, but couldn’t make up my mind which one I liked the best.  I thought the sun flare (on the left) covered it up the best, but the jewel star effect was interesting too.

I then played with Topaz Adjustments on the sun flared lamp and Topaz Black and White with the lamp that had the jewel star effect.  The results are below:

Some specific notes to myself.  I would likely redo this photo if I wanted to use it for something.  I’d try to find a photo that was a little further back, so that when I fixed the skew on the left, the top corner stayed in the picture.  I’d also like more space around the entire picture.  This is cropped closer than I like, but I didn’t figure that out until after I’d done all these adjustments.

When I DeNoised the photo, I wasn’t paying close enough attention (hey, it was late!).  I chose the DeNoise for jpg, but this picture was taken in camera raw.  Oops.  It still looks much improved, so that mistake might not have mattered that much.

Although I intended this week’s challenge to be a selection of photos that I’ve taken after dark, it didn’t work out that way.  But I had fun working on this photo and seeing what I could do to improve it.  The more I experiment, the faster I get at doing this.  Plus it’s really fun to just try out different things with my photography!

To see what others did with this challenge, click here.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.


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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at www.livingtheseasons.com.

19 Comments Leave a comment

  1. This was fascinating to me, I don’t know a great deal about photography.. I also would call your favorite my favorite with the black and white coming in second (I feel a story in that one) Thank you for allowing us to take a peek into your process!

    • You’re welcome! Thanks for the comment. The post seems to have been well received, so I appreciate the feedback letting me know it was worth my time.

      Hopefully the black and white generates a good story from you! Would it help you if I sent it to you, so you can contemplate it on your computer?

  2. So a high ISO causes the grainy effect? I’m just learning all of this and have been so frustrated with the graininess of what should be a clear picture (in my head). Thanks for the tutorial!

    • It’s not just high ISO. If you’re using too long of a shutter speed, that can also cause grain. It can also be your equipment. The point-and-shoots tend to be grainy simply because they’re not made very well.

      Big Picture Classes has some good instruction on using your camera, as does Katrina Kennedy (Capture Your 365). I don’t know if you’re on Pinterest, but there’s a lot of good photo tips out there also. If you link over to me, my photo tips board is pretty extensive.

      • I don’t do/have Pininterest. I will keep reading you! And Husband, just TODAY, surprised me with an on line photography class! :)

        I have always seen the picture I want to capture. I just can’t make the equipment work for me.

        I have a Nikon 3200. I am still learning so much. But having fun doing it. :)

        • What a great hubby! Nikon makes good cameras. This looks to be about the equivalent of my Canon Rebel, which – as you know – takes some awesome shots. But it did take me a while before I could use it and do a good job of it.

  3. Wow! I love what you did with this picture. It looks awesome. I can see a story forming in my mind already. It was cool to watch the process too.

    • I’m glad it got your creative juices going! If you ever need any of my photos to help the muse, let me know. I’m happy to share some with you.

  4. That’s a really interesting process. I love the overall effect of the top pic, I’m not sure about the halo effect of the lamp though. I quite like the effect of the white lamp in the dark, say in the third pic, but the overall glow of the first is quite beautiful.

    • Thanks for stopping by and giving me some feedback! I really liked the picture, but that lamp being so overly bright is throwing me. I took it with a Canon Rebel, which is a good camera, but I think if I did it again, I might try to HDR the image. I haven’t done HDR, so it would be something interesting to try.

    • Thanks Renate! I’m glad you found it interesting. It’s always hard to tell when I put together posts like this (to know if my readers will like it), so I appreciate your feedback.

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