Hollywood Blvd Cityscape

Hollywood Blvd

Hollywood Blvd Cityscape

I missed entering the June cityscape theme on the Martin Bailey Photography Forum, but I hadn’t forgotten about it.

We have had a very foggy late June and early July and I’ve had just a couple of changes to get different parts of the LA skyline in these conditions. Once from the Getty Center which overlooks the West LA Wilshire corridor and another from the damn at the Hollywood Reservoir which overlooks Hollywood Blvd.

Both times I find that these images are both hard to capture and harder to process. The fog here is very uniform. Medium fog on the ground and big uniform overcast sky. Officially this is the marine layer and is caused by hot dry inland air, coming from the deserts to the east, hitting the cooler moist air coming off the Pacific. We affectionately call it the June gloom. We get several days of morning fog, gradually burning off earlier and earlier in the day. Then one beautiful sunny warm/hot day. The earth heats up on this one beautiful day to cause the whole cycle to continue again until the earth cools down for that next sunny day. Sometime in July the temps balance out and the hot dry summer weather begins in earnest.

But I digress. Why are these images so difficult to take and process? First, I have this big open featureless gray sky. My approach is to use the force Luke and make the image about all that negative space. I suppose there are other solutions for long panos. The second problem is noise. Although I’m shooting a low ISO, because there is so little dynamic range in the actual scene once I bring up the contrast the noise begins to show. The third problem is banding. As I begin to bring out any detail I find the sky can easily begin to show banding effects. In post, I am as careful as possible and as subtle as possible. I also used this Photoshop trick and I think it helped.

I think that there is some <i>in camera</i> thinking that I need to do too. I think I need to expose to the right more. Theoretically, this should produce a less noisy image and give me room to open up.

I’m pretty happy with this one. The taller bunch of buildings on the left, by the way, is the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine. If you zoom in you can see the signs for Capitol Records, the new “W” Hotel, The Broadway, the The Knickerbocker.

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