Night photography post-processing: Save your test shots

Through the lunch truck -- by Joe Reifer

Through the lunch truck — by Joe Reifer

I’ve been preparing for next week’s night photography workshop at Paul’s Junkyard, and found the image above while putting together my post-processing demo. In the past, I’ve covered how to develop night photos in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. The all new post-processing demonstration for this workshop will primarily focus on making subtle adjustments to tone, color, and sharpness in Photoshop. These techniques will help workshop participants learn how to finish their images for web or print.

Notice anything different about the night photo above? This image is an ISO 6400 test shot from a Canon 5D Mark II. Noise reduction was applied in Lightroom 3. Is it a little bit noisy? Yes. But the file is fine for web use, and with a little bit of work it would make a nice print. Save those test shots! Who knows what you may be able to rescue from your archive as the post-processing software gets better and better.

Low light sensitivity and high ISO performance are improving with every new generation of digital SLRs. Will it be long before we’re doing night photography hand-held? Star trails may start to look pretty old school in the not too distant future!

Night photography: Paul’s Junkyard, Your Passport to Flavor

Paul's Junkyard, Your Passport to Flavor -- by Joe Reifer

Paul's Junkyard, Your Passport to Flavor -- by Joe Reifer

I’ve just updated my portfolio site with some new images of Paul’s Junkyard from the March full moon. As the moon waxes, we’re gearing up for the upcoming night photography workshop at Paul’s. The April workshop sold out in one day — get on the notification list if you’re interested in a fall 2011 workshop.

 

Night photography: Farewell, Pearsonville Junkyard

Our one night Farewell, Pearsonville Junkyard Workshop was a lot of fun. The strange weather patterns of 2011 brought intense rushing storm clouds over the Sierra, with a full moon high above — perfect conditions for night photography. Some amazing images from the photographers who attended the workshop are starting to appear in the Pearsonville Workshop Flickr Group. Thanks to everyone who attended — were those some awesome clouds or what?

After our ceremonial midnight toast, a light rain started blowing. There was still some blue sky and moonlight, so I attached the Think Tank Hydrophobia Rain Cover and kept on shooting. The cover is meant for a 70-200mm lens, but also works fine with a 24-70mm. The Hydrophobia is wonderful piece of design and engineering. Accessing the controls with your right hand is easy, and both the rear and top LCDs can still be viewed. The cover is easier to install if you remove your camera strap. The only issue for night photography is that you can no longer see the manual focusing scale on the lens. Next time I will carefully zone focus the lens and then use gaffer’s tape to prevent the focusing ring from moving. Gaffer’s tape is also handy for securing the Hydrophobia from blowing in the wind for long exposures. In addition to the cover, you’ll also need the proper eye piece accessory for your camera. Use this special referral link to receive a free gift on orders of over $50 from Think Tank. Bad weather can make for some great shooting!

Bodie Night Photography: Mono Lake Festival 2011

Bodie house with bicycle and sawhorse -- by Joe Reifer

Bodie house with bicycle and sawhorse — by Joe Reifer

The Bodie night photograph above is one of the few keepers from a 2006 workshop. Plagued with focus problems on a pesky Canon 17-40mm lens, I ended up with a 2-3 digital shots and a couple of good film shots. A question that comes up from time-to-time is how can you shoot Bodie ghost town at night? Bodie is open 8a.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer, until 5 p.m. in October, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the winter if you’re willing to ski, snowshoe, or snowmobile in. Lance Keimig is typically one of the only people who gets the permit to be there after dark, and this June is your big chance.

The Mono Lake Night Photography Festival runs June 12-15th, 2011. The Festival is $395 and includes one night of shooting at Bodie, as well as the South Tufa area of Mono Lake, and the weird rocks of Olmstead Point in Yosemite. For an additional fee you can opt to take a beginner’s workshop with Tim Baskerville of the Nocturnes, an advanced workshop with Lance Keimig and Scott Martin, or both. Workshop attendees get two nights of shooting at Bodie.

The Festival includes afternoon lectures from 3-5:30 p.m. each day with night photography luminaries including: Troy Paiva, Tom Paiva, Susanne Friedrich, Stu Jenks, Joe Reifer, Gabriel Biderman, Andy Frazer, Dan Squires and Al Hiltz. Word on the street is that there will be a extra special guest presenter from Adobe, too. Here’s an outline of my presentation:

23 Epiphanies: Take a rollicking ride through the work of 23 visual artists with Joe Reifer as he discusses the value of cultivating a wide range of artistic influences. Zig-zag through time and across genres with examples of vernacular photography, conceptual art, painting, and cinema that have something to teach us about night photography.

Photographers in Bay Area night photography circles including myself still speak fondly of the 2006 Festival. I’m sure the 2011 event will be just as legendary. For more details see Lance Keimig’s Night Skye website or contact Lance. See you at Mono Lake!

Farewell to Pearsonville Night Photography Workshop on March 18th

Farewell to Pearsonville -- by Joe Reifer

Farewell to Pearsonville -- by Joe Reifer

Since I posted the Pearsonville trip report and night photography galleries, Troy Paiva and I have had requests from workshop alumni for a last chance to shoot the yard. About 65% of the junkyard has been cleared out, leaving about 300 vehicles and a lot of space. Still plenty to shoot.

Due to our workshop and travel schedules this spring, the upcoming March moon is the only time we can make this happen. We floated the idea to our email list, and have the minimum number of folks to make this event a go — but there’s still room for a few more! To keep things economical, we’re offering one last night at Pearsonville on Friday, March 18th. Tuition is $250, and includes access to the yard from 5pm-2:30 a.m. — this shoot-only workshop includes 2 hours of daytime scouting, and 7.5 hours of night shooting. Limited to 10 people.

Yes, it’s only two weeks away, and we do apologize for the last minute notice, but we’d like to see if you’d like one last night to get that perfect shot, see some old friends, and document the remaining cream of the crop at Pearsonville. Email me or use the contact form to sign up!