Day & Night

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Faux Night at the Fruit Stand

That’s how it seems I’ve been working lately: day and night, night and day.

This Thursday, October 2, 2014, from 5 p.m. until at least 7 p.m., I have my first ArtHop™ exhibition at the downtown Citibank at Kern & M Streets in Fresno. If you’re in the area, stop by! I’ll be there.

Meanwhile, three of my prints, including the featured image above, and the original (more on that below), along with about a three-foot-long version of The Hills Are Alive, will be showing at the Sorensen Studio for their Fall/Halloween Show.

And then there’s my day job.

Oh, and did I mention that I have a new studio? (More on that in another post!)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than tickled pink about all the activity. It’s just that, as I said, I’m busy day and night.

Still, recently, I was awakened to the pitter-patter, not of little feet, but of large raindrops. The sun was not quite up yet, but as I looked out, I could see that it was going to be an interesting cloud-filled day.

And I love clouds!

So I gathered my gear, and headed for the door. And the road. And the fields.

Along the way, I ran across this fruit stand in Centerville. I’m sure I’ve probably seen it before, as I know I’ve driven that road before. But something about it made it stand out. I pulled to the side of the road and hauled out my monster tripod. This sucker is about 11 or 12 feet tall, and feels like it weighs about 30 lbs. (As I write this, it’s not nearby, or I’d give you the model information. I can update that later, if any of the multitude that comments here needs to know.)

My normal set-up for photographing outdoors these days is this:

  • Monster tripod described above
  • Camera bag full of lenses since I never know what I’ll want to use
  • Canon 5D Mark III
  • Remote triggers, but…
  • I normally have a CamRanger attached to the camera
  • My iPad Air connects to the CamRanger

Occasionally, I’ll attach about a 36-inch rail to the top of the tripod, and put the tripod head on the rail. It depends on what I’m shooting. For anything farther than about 6 feet away, the rail isn’t all that useful an addition. In fact, if it’s on the tripod, it’s usually being used as a kind of skinny table to hold things like my Sekonic L-758DR, or the iPad, or extra lenses, or all the above.

So I set up the Mark III with connected CamRanger with an EF 14 mm f/2.8L II USM Canon lens, and ran it up the flagpole, so to speak.

One thing I like about the CamRanger is that it affords complete control of the camera — while giving me a live view of what the camera sees — right from the iPad. Once in awhile, I find that I have to tilt the tripod down so I can reach the camera to adjust its angle. But otherwise, I can do pretty much everything from the CamRanger — anything electronic, that is, can be controlled by it, but manual movements require touching the camera. (Incidentally, CamRanger apparently also has a motorized tripod head that would help me avoid having to do the tripod-tilt thing for adjustments.)

And one of the really cool things that the CamRanger can do is to allow me to fire off multiple exposures for HDR, or high dynamic range photographic images, in ways that the camera itself won’t normally handle. For example, my Canon can be set to auto-bracket up to 7 shots. The CamRanger can do many more — I typically do up to 11 at a time, depending on the situation.

Interestingly, I won’t always end up using all 11 exposures when I process. Sometimes the outer limits of either too dark, or too light, will result in a file that just doesn’t seem to be able to give me what I want. In that case, I’ll drop off an exposure, or three.

In any event, I knew that the fruit stand was the kind of shot I wanted all 11 exposures for. This next shot is what I ended up after processing in Photomatix, plus a whole-lotta my patented Rick tricks.

Centreville Fruit Stand by Day

Okay. They’re not really patented. But I do a lot of stuff in Photoshop processing that just feels right, and I don’t always keep track. So I can’t give you much explanation of how I did this one. I can say that after processing in Photomatix to combine the HDR exposures, this image had a large number of Hue-Saturation Adjustment layers. For some reason, some of the colors (like the turquoise (or aqua) barrels on the left) were far too saturated for my tastes, while others (the red trim on the roof, as well as the red poles holding up the overhang) were quite under-saturated. The clouds, too, were strange, with quite a lot of blue in sections (especially the right and left edges), but desaturated-appearing grey in others.

Nothing in the day-time image above is composited, by the way. I know I’m somewhat known for my love of altering skies. I did not have to do any of that in this image — other than some alterations in color to even out the blues already mentioned. In the faux night-time version of the shot, I essentially colorized the sky using a Color layer set to black after other global tweaks to the image.

The faux night version was inspired by watching this video from Glyn Dewis. This dude’s Photoshop work is phenomenal. He says he’s got a new book he’s working on, The Photoshop Workbook: Professional Retouching and Compositing Tips, Tricks, and Techniques, which will be available early next year. I couldn’t follow his day-to-night technique exactly, because it appears to utilize features my version of Photoshop (CS6) doesn’t have. But after watching the video a couple times, and getting an understanding of what was happening, I was able to improve on it for my needs.

And by “improve,” I mean that I added steps he didn’t discuss, such as using a copy of the fully-colorized version of what was visible in the windows of the fruit stand, but with the exposure boosted up a lot and made slightly warm, to give the appearance of what you’d see standing outside on a dark night looking in.

Normally, at this point, I’d give you information on the exposure ranges. However, I’m writing this from my office — it’s been too long since I posted something, and I didn’t want to wait until I went home because it’s already been a very long day, and I still have law-related stuff to do — and I don’t have the specs with me since my Lightroom catalog resides on a RAID system at home. If it’s something you really feel you have to know, leave a comment, and I’ll respond with the information later.

If you are in the Fresno area, and you want to see the above images — and more — “in person,” so to speak, remember October’s ArtHop™! Prints of the two images in this post will be exhibited — and you can buy copies! — at the Chris Sorensen Studio during the month of October. Another portion of my work (but not these two images) will be exhibited October 2, 2014, from 5 p.m. until at least 7 p.m., at the Citibank in downtown Fresno. That’s at the corner of Kern and M Streets. The Citibank exhibit will be a one-night showing, but will be catered.

If you have any questions, or comments, please leave them below!