Workshop postcard: Alcatraz at night from Fort Mason

Alcatraz at night from Fort Mason -- by Joe Reifer

Alcatraz at night from Fort Mason — by Joe Reifer

Last night I did a guest lecture at the Nocturnes San Francisco night photography workshop at Fort Mason. Nocturnes head honcho Tim Baskerville did an excellent slideshow on the history of night photography, and then I shared some recent images and talked about RAW workflow for night photography. One of the most popular topics turned out to be RAW adjustments for removing the hideous orange glow of sodium vapor lights. I also showed how to quickly use Lightroom to adjust for other difficult urban night photography lighting situations that would require some tricky filtration if shooting film. More on these topics after the full moon shooting weekend is over.

The image above was shot from near the Firehouse at Fort Mason. The exposure time was 5 minutes at f/11, ISO 100. The green color of the water is from nearby lighting, and the sky coloration is from city lights across the bay. These colors are straight out of the camera with no fancy post-processing — just a few quick RAW adjustments. While the shutter was open a fisherman pulled a 15″ fish out of the water. When I expressed my enthusiasm for his catch, the fellow remarked how this fish was rather small and he usually catches bigger ones. I’m going to get out there under the full moon tonight and catch a big one…how about you?

4 thoughts on “Workshop postcard: Alcatraz at night from Fort Mason”

  1. What lovely tones, and the far detail looks really crisp even at 72 dpi. Like a yummy night photo sandwich–creamy on the outside and abandoned on the inside!

  2. Cool shot, Joe…

    Speaking of Alcatraz, anybody know if there’s any photo group doing a full overnight stay on Alcatraz?

    SF PhotoAlliance did a couple in the past, but looks like they’ve passed this year, and last year.

    Looking for one more opportunity – the night tours by the NPS and Keeble & Schuchat just aren’t enough…

  3. I like the little tiny star pattern from the lighthouse on Alcatraz in this scene. It has a perfect amount of spread and shows a very subtle reflection in the water.

    A few times I tried night photography in Baltimore during overcast nights to catch the trapped city lights reflecting off the sky. The color on slide film would look just like the water in this shot.

    Joe, an interesting post for the future could show your RAW capture straight out of the camera, and then show your finished version after the post work.

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