Pearsonville Fire Truck Moonrise: Processing Night Photography Shot Under Mixed Lighting

Pearsonville fire truck moonrise -- by Joe Reifer

Pearsonville fire truck moonrise — by Joe Reifer

The image above was exposed for 90 seconds at f/11, ISO 100. I shoot most night photos at f/8, but stopped down to f/11 to give the moon a more pronounced star pattern. The exposure time was still short enough to minimize the moon movement. The lighting is a mix of street and road lighting, moonlight, and flashlight through the back window of the fire truck. Color temperature was set to 4450K for this blend of mixed lighting, and the tint was purposefully pushed towards magenta in order to mix purple and oranges in the foreground, and help give the sky the deep blue color.

Sometimes there are ways to make your image more technically correct that can ruin the feel of the image. A more neutral foreground could be achieved by pushing the white balance tint towards green, doing a separate conversion with a magenta tint for a deeper blue sky, and then blending the conversions together using a layer mask in Photoshop. I ended up really liking the what the magenta tint did to the purples and oranges in the foreground against the blue of the sky. Another post processing possibility for this image would be to reduce the hot area on the inner passenger side window by cloning from another part of the window. The small blown out area mirrors the blown out area of the moon, so I left it alone.

I used the HSL panel in Lightroom to make the following adjustments (screenshot below):

  1. The red hue slider adjusted to reduce the amount of orange in the reds, which helped pull some of the sodium vapor effect off the front of the fire engine.
  2. Orange saturation was reduced in order to counteract of the overall sodium vapor lighting. Blue saturation was increased to deepen the sky color slightly.
  3. Red and orange luminance were increased to brighten the front of the fire truck. Playing with the orange luminance slider also helped me assess how much of the sodium vapor light was still in effect on the truck.

I hope these post-processing tips are useful. Look for more images from last weekend’s Pearsonville Night Photography Workshop in the next few days, and don’t miss the Pearsonville Workshop Pool on Flickr!

Lightroom HSL Panel

2 thoughts on “Pearsonville Fire Truck Moonrise: Processing Night Photography Shot Under Mixed Lighting”

  1. Way cool. My eyes are drawn to the trailer to the right as I am trying to figure out what is casting the shadow. Maybe a light post? Thanks again for letting me tag along for while.

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