Reflections in Philadelphia – Processing #HDR images in Lightroom

So I searched for a cool quote about rain, reflections, and the beauty of the city lights and, well, I got nottin’

Well, there is this one…

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Guess that will do actually 🙂

Reflections in Philadelphia

So, a wee little bit about these shots. I took these during one of my trips out into the city of Philadelphia. I was up there with a small crew of guys I REALLY like working with. You know what they say, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Well, when you work with friends, it gets even better. I consider every one of these opportunities a blessing I gotta tell you.


I was working with on a corporate meeting project lighting a set during the day and decided to head out into the city to explore a bit and grab a bite with a couple of the guys. Having only brought my smaller Nikon D5100, I wasn’t looking for much of a result as I composed this shot, but the reflections were amazing and perfect for HDR so I HAD to grab a few brackets 🙂

Pretty sure I rested the camera directly on the curb as we were waiting for an Uber or possibly I used my small Really Right Stuff mini tripod…..not sure. I do remember that I was glad to have that swivel out screen. Works PERFECT in these low angle, low light, wet environments!

So about the processing….

My final result was the one up above and my favorite. I like the overall tone, the detail in the clock, the smoothness of the street, and just the overall feel and again, the tone. The one below is OK, but I wasn’t crazy about it. As there was a lot of noise in the sky and I had this uber funky blowout blue thing happening, so I layered in a texture a bit to fix it. Kinda subtle, but still a mess.

There are a few other things I don’t care for, but I do like the detail around the glass right over the entrance to the Marriott right across the street. Again, these are 2 totally different approaches to the same shot. Neither is “wrong” or “right”, just different ways to an end result.

Into the night-2

So for the technically interested, I processed the top one with Lightroom’s built in HDR capabilities while using Photomatix for the one below. I have really been enjoying the newer algorithm that is in play with the new Lightroom HDR processing engine (not sure I worded all that correctly AT ALL).

As someone who has embraced HDR as an art form as well as a way to just get a few more pixels of information in the final image, I like mixing up the routine and workflow a bit from time to time. I kinda like the tamer and less processed look lately and hope to share a few tips via video soon! A little busy with a few other projects for now though. I share a bit about those in a later post as well.

I do of course share quite a bit more in a few free videos linked up above on the blog menu as well an downloadable course I created here. Enjoy!

Oh, and let me know if there is anything I can help you with. I am always looking for ideas for blog posts and videos, so feel free to leave a comment or reach out on social media!

More tomorrow……

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