3 Skills A Cityscape Photographer Should Be Able To Do On Photoshop

April 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

(Beginner/Intermediate)

First of all, straight off the bat, I recommended that all photographers shoot in raw rather than jpeg. This is usually changed easily on DLSR cameras. Yes, it is true raw files take up more place on your memory card restricting how many photos you can take. Despite this raw files are more flexible as they have more quality, (number of pixels) meaning it is far easier to edit mistakes and to change the feel of an image. Many of these ideas are useful for landscapes also. 

Skill 1 – Getting The Most Out Of Your Sky


There is nothing more frustrating when it comes to cityscape photography than trying to get detail in the sky on an overcast and cloudy day, while at the same time avoiding darkening the rest of the image too much. Overcast days can often leave photographers with completely white and overexposed skies. So, the first step is to, look after your sky and worry about the rest of the image after. 

So here are a before and after photo of the Royal Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Here it is in photoshop raw. 
Moving the highlights and whites down will bring out much of the detail and potentially some colour as well in the sky. But this will darken your entire image a lot. This is why it is sensible to create another layer to up the brightness and exposure. But this time just on the buildings below. 
The HRL greyscale is also another useful tool as it allows you to only edit certain colours. During the day you might push the blue sliders to the right while at sunrise/sunset you may move the red and oranges. 


Finally, you may use the dehaze option. This will bring out some blues in even the most overexposed skies. But be cautious with this one as you can potentially do more bad than good by making the image look completely unrealistic and pushing the pixels too far. Something Photoshop will point out by the blue appearing on the buildings in the image below.  


Skill 2 – Using The HDR Option 


HDR better known as “High Dynamic Range”. The HDR setting in photoshop which can also be found on some cell phones is best used in situations of high contrasts. For example, on a sunny day. A building may be covered by a very dark shadow while the sky may be very bright as it is a very bright day. Sometimes no matter what you do you will end up with an overexposed image or an image filled with flat shadows. HDR helps brings out all the colours in a scene when there is a great variety of dark and bright colours and contrasts. It is often used to create dynamic landscape shots. 

 

One way I love using the HDR setting is on brightly lit buildings at night. The HDR setting can often bring out details and the sky that would be impossible to see otherwise. Take this example of the Nord/LB in Hanover, Germany. 

 

Original Post Processed Photo 

 

HDR Verion Of The Previous Image

 

Skill 3 – Adjustment Layer


While this can be done in the normal photoshop. The extra flexible given to you by camera raw are worth using. Used by clicking on the fifth icon to the right on the top of the option/menu bar. Adjustment layers are often used to bring out more detail in a sky. When I do this I often up to the contrast on a photo. As a result of this, the darks in the image often the buildings themselves become darker to the point where they can be difficult to recognize. Adjustment layers allow photographers to edit certain parts of an image while leaving the remaining untouched. A very useful indeed. 

 

As can be seen from the sliders on the right certain parts of an image can be processed in a wide range of ways. In this situation, I decided the tree on the right-hand side of the image was too dark. With your icon, you draw over what part of the image you want to change. In the case of upping the exposure, it is wise to turn up the exposure to 4.0 the maximum number in order to make it easy to see what you are editing. Then when you happy with your suggestion, slide the slider back to a level you’re happy with. 
 


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