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Night Photography: Shooting at ISO 640 and Pushing in Post
Some more night shots using the "shoot at ISO 640 and push in post" technique. In the LUF-thread on this subject, I listed the following suggested steps for using this technique.
At ISO 640 start (with the Elmarit 21mm ASPH) by exposing at f/2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/60 or 1/90, and (with a Summicron-28) by exposing at f/2.0 and a shutter speed of 1/120 or 1/180, although I tend to use this lens at f/2.8 at night for the greater dpeth-of-field. The aim is not to blow out the highlights. On a dark night, I find that I don't need much depth of field because of the rapid drop-off in light intensity.
Lightroom 4/5 Post-Processing
1. Click Auto in the Exposure Panel and use this as the starting point.
2. Adjust the Exposure Slider to the point at which you like the look.
3. Press "J" and see whether any of the highlights are blown out.
4. If necessary (from Step 3), pull back on the Highlights Slider.
5. I like to pull back the Black Slider to negative numbers so that picture has a look that I like.
6. Click White Balance Eye Dropper in an area you want to be neutral grey, but I don't like to neutralize the colors completely because I want a "real" look from the lights in the picture.
7. Try moving the Clarity Slider between +10 +30. (I find that increasing Clarity creates a good feeling of light in a high contrast scene, but sometimes this may not be necessary or even may not look good.
8. If you increased Clarity, you can probably pull back a bit on the Exposure.
9. In the Noise Reduction panel, after setting the View to 100%, move the Color Slider to the right until the color noise disappears.
10. Still at 100% View, move the Luminance Slider to the right if necessary to remove more noise, but be careful no to go too far. Some pictures will not need any Luminance Slide increase.
In the 10 post-processing steps listed above, step 5 is pull back the Black Slider to negative numbers so that picture has a look that you like. In the three pictures below, when I pressed Auto in the Basic Panel, the Black Slider went to +26 and the pictures looked a bit washed out and flat; I pulled the Black Slider back to 26 for Nos. 12 and to 10 for No. 3. I find that pulling the Black Slider to the left to get negative number provides a look consistent to the rapid fall-off of light in partially lit, dark scene.
Incidentally, you'll see below that I shot No. 2 at 1/750 sec: a simple mistake, as this picture would not have required any pushing if I had exposed at a lower shutter speed; but I had my camera set to 1/750 sec from another shot and, turning around and seeing the subjects grouped in the way they stood, I wanted to get a shot off before they changed position.
Now, in post-processing, starting with the list of steps for post-post processing above, there are many possibilities, including "selective pushing" (equivalent to dodging). In No. 3 below I have used the new LR5 facility of the Radial Filter to push the face area by 4 stops (equivalent ISO of 10,240). You will note that I shot this at f/4.0; that was also an error: I thought the lens was set to f/2.8, having forgotten that I had opened up one f-stop for a shot with brighter light some five minutes earlier in my walk. I was sitting on a chair talking to the subject and took the shot after ten minutes of conversation, so not surprising that I forget about the f-stop: speaking to attractive young women can have that effect.
No. 1 | Elmarit-21 ASPH | ISO 640 pushed 0.9 stops | f/2.8 | 1/60 sec
No. 2 | Elmarit-21 ASPH | ISO 640 pushed 1.65 stops | f/2.8 | 1/750 sec
No. 3 | Summicron-28 | ISO 640 pushed 4 stops [on face] | f/4.0 | 1/60 sec