Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nubble Light in Blue

Last Friday, I had plans to do Nubble Light at sunrise with storm waves from hurricane Igor. But I didn't get up at 3:00, so by the time I got to the lighthouse the sun had risen behind a thick cover of clouds.  It was gray, really gray. Not only that, but the storm waves hadn't shown up yet. Yuk!

So I added a 1.8 neutral density filter to my lens. This made everything dark, so my exposures would be slow. I also set my aperture at f22 and my ISO at 100. The goal was to make a very slow exposure, so the waves that did exist would have that silky, dreamy look. I set the exposure value (EV) to -1.0 to make it look like night. The shutter speed was now 15 seconds - long enough for silky water and then some.

When I loaded the images onto the computer, I was still disappointed with them. Slow shutter, yes, but it would have been so much better if I had shot it before sunrise on this cloudy day.  Why? Because pre-sunrise light is a very beautiful saphire blue. After dawn, the color was simply drab.

The ORIGINAL image

The fix was an old trick from film days.  Mismatched white balance! Years ago, we would use tungsten-balanced film (for regular interior lights) and underexposure to give a nighttime appearance to daytime pictures. It doesn't work on everything, but on this picture, already a slow exposure, it might be just fine. So I set the white balance in Adobe Lightroom to Tungsten, fine-tuned the colors, and came up with the first image on this page.

Of course, I didn't need Lightroom to change the white balance. I could have used the camera to shoot it with a tungsten or fluorescent setting. But it's warm and dry here, and I can play at my leisure. I've tried this image in Black & White, Sepia, Cyanotype, and other effects in Lightroom.  There are lots of ways to make it look better.

1 comment:

  1. Last fall I went to York beach and shot the lighthouse from a couple different vantage points. It was a grey day and I just needed to get out and shoot something. At some point I'll have to revisit those photos and see what I can do with them! Nice black and white!