Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sodium Vapor

I discovered something new today.  It came to me because I was retouching an image that happened to only be illuminated by one high pressure sodium vapor light directly in front of the building.

Have you ever shot sodium vapor and tried to correct for it?  I have but not to this extent.  What do you do when you don't know anything about sodium vapor lights?  Google it.

I came across a forum on or something of the sort that pointed me in the right direction to correct my white balance.  Well not particularly, but it did give me the idea to play with the RAW files in Adobe Camera Raw and use the HSL/Grayscale section.

In order to even get started with correction, I had to know what colors sodium vapor produces when it is fully warmed up, and that is where the forum came in.  I knew Sodium Vapor was orange, but didn't know the light has a hell of a lot of yellow.

After a couple of different techniques in ACR to get the orange/yellow out, I finally figured it out.  Reading that SV lights are around 2100-2700K a very cool light temperature almost approaching that of a candle flame.  2700K looks disgusting so I decided to jump up to 3350K, why?  Because it looked the best.  Color temperature in ACR can only correct for 4 colors, blue, yellow, green, and magenta.  What it doesn't do is only take out yellow and keep blue.

This is the magical part of my 3 hour retouching adventure.  Take 3350K one step further and desaturate under the HSL section, all the yellow, and for my situation -30 orange.  That was only the beginning as there was still a ton of orange on the asphalt, which I used just a simple HS layer and desaturated and masked back in the parking lot.

Thank goodness for the Internet enabling me to search for sodium vapor light color correction and the knowledge I gained from spending 3 hours in front of a computer, blending, retouching, color correcting, and more retouching.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The City of Goodwill

I never got to appreciate Washington for what it was when I lived there for 20 years. After moving to California I only got to go back up north every so often. Just recently I had the opportunity to visit and work in Seattle, a city I haven't really spent much time in.

1 block away from the job site, 2 blocks away from the Space Needle and the Frank Gehry EMP, and 5 blocks away from one of the best places to eat in Seattle, The Hurricane Cafe, or simply, "The 'Cane."

Most of the trip was spent assisting a photographer for a ceiling manufacturer that had product up in Seattle needing to be photographed. Ceilings? How cool can that be right? It was awesome!! The site is under construction, so the entire time shooting we had to specifically wear a hard hat, steel toed boots, pants, safety vest, and safety goggles.

I had never been on a construction site until this past week, especially one that was just about ready to be turned over. On all floors we had to wear booties for our boots and use the Honey Bucket's outside of the complex. What a great experience to have stepped in a building before hundreds of people that will be working there.

On top of all the regulations we had to abide by, we were given very strict security guidelines since we weren't involved with the construction company. What would you do if the head night foreman didn't think you were suppose to be holding a photo shoot? Pull out the hard copy email that has the most recent dates and correspondence with all of our contacts!  That is exactly what happened to us, at the end of the first day of shooting.

Seattle is simply another amazing city that I have had the pleasure to live in for longer than a day and experience the Emerald City.  Getting to see family and friends while enjoying great food, extremely nice people, and not seeing the sun for a week was an enjoyable get away from the City of Angels.

BGF, Seattle, WA from the Space Needle. nbbj/Sellen