Pangea

March 04, 2015

"Pangea""Pangea"The maddeningly beautiful city of Paris looked back at me as I stood at the top of Notre Dame cathedral. I stared at these jigsaw-like buildings in the distance, and I realized how to capture the complex layers of Paris in a single frame.


Standard Edition - Tier One

Special Edition - 7/10 available

Artist's Proof - 2/2 available

Purchase

- Finalist in Travel Photographer of the Year competition.

 

This image shows the city of Paris, taken from the top of Notre Dame cathedral.  I used my 105mm macro lens on a D7000 (for an equivalent focal length of 150mm) for this image.  It is one of the easiest photos that I have post-processed, simply because it didn't need many adjustments.  I call it Pangea because it makes me think of a single massive continent— chaotic, huge, and yet beautiful.

 

 I use Lightroom almost exclusively to edit my photos, which is simply a personal preference.  For this image, my main edits are as follows: a monochrome conversion, a slight crop, and a contrast boost.  That's about it.  Below is a JPEG extracted from the original NEF image:

 

 

Note that this is a telephoto image taken in the middle of a misty rain.  As a result, the file is fairly low-contrast, even for a raw image.  To start, there were two things that I needed to do: I had to make the image monochromatic (I found the color to be distracting in this relatively abstract image), and I needed to make the buildings pop a bit more.  I converted the photo to black and white, I increased contrast +57, and I increased clarity +48.  These are higher values than I typically use, but they aren't so drastic that they introduce noise into the image (which was taken at ISO 100).  Below is that result:

 

 

It took me a while to choose the crop of the image, but my final decision is below.  One thing that bothered me about the out-of-camera photo was that the top-left corner was unnaturally bright.  It carried too much visual weight, and it threw the photo off balance.  I chose to eliminate this bright spot completely in my final crop.

 

 

At this point, I only had a few little tweaks left.  I sharpened the image how I normally do at ISO 100 on the D7000 (and the exact sharpening settings are at the end of the article).  More importantly, I increased the contrast even more. 

 

I brightened the highlights primarily through the "highlights" and "lights" settings under "tone curve."  Those settings are targeted towards more specific brightness levels than the standard highlights slider under the "basic" tab, and they worked better for this image.  I also darkened the shadows by decreasing the "blacks" slider under the "basic" tab, and I made a couple minor tweaks to other settings in the "basic" tab.  The final result is below:

 

"Pangea""Pangea"The maddeningly beautiful city of Paris looked back at me as I stood at the top of Notre Dame cathedral. I stared at these jigsaw-like buildings in the distance, and I realized how to capture the complex layers of Paris in a single frame.


Standard Edition - Tier One

Special Edition - 7/10 available

Artist's Proof - 2/2 available

Purchase

- Finalist in Travel Photographer of the Year competition.

 

My settings in Lightroom are as follows:

 

Basic

Exposure: +0.10

Contrast: +46

Highlights: +12

Shadows: +14

Whites: 0

Blacks: -34

Clarity: +48

Vibrance: N/A

Saturation: N/A

 

Tone Curve

Highlights: +12 

Lights: +19

Darks: -10

Shadows: 0

 

HSL/Color/B&W

No changes; I just used the automatic black and white mix.

 

Split Toning

None.

 

Detail

Sharpening

Amount: 48

Radius: 0.9

Detail: 51

Masking: 30

Noise Reduction

Luminance: 20

(Luminance) Detail: 90

Contrast: 50

Color: 20

(Color) Detail: 50

 

Lens Corrections

The only lens correction I applied was to click "remove chromatic aberration."

 

Effects

None.

 

Camera Calibration

Process: 2012

Profile: Adobe Standard

All other settings at zero.

 

Local Adjustments

This photo has no local adjustments, content-aware fill, or gradients.  Very unusual for me, but it simply didn't need any.

 

Overall

This image was not particularly difficult to edit.  My goal was simply to bring out the contrast in these buildings, and I did so without any local adjustments.  I wanted to make this photo more abstract without crossing the line to surrealism, which is why I chose many of my settings in Lightroom.

 

If you would like to purchase a print of this image (12x18 inches large and $100), contact me so I know you're interested.

 

Thanks for reading through this tutorial, and I hope it helps you understand a bit more about "Pangea."

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