Yeah, it’s sick how people can deface bridges. There’s a pretty big difference between the way the Manhattan Bridge is taken care of, and that of the Brooklyn Bridge. There isn’t much to discuss with this shot, except for the fact I wish I had a wider lens. So, I’ll take the time to discuss how “crop factors” affect your photography.
Camera lens filters used to be incredibly important before digital photography. Nowadays, this isn’t the case. Software filters and post-processing can often substitute for lens filters and they are much more precise. However, even in the land of digital photography, some lens filters cannot be duplicated in post-processing.
The most important lens filter you can buy is a known as a Circular Polarizer. A circular polarizer will make skies deep blue, clouds pop out, eliminate unwanted reflections, and enhance colors. The filter is adjustable so that you can twist it and dial in the exact effect you want.
A polarizer is most useful when the sun is very strong. If it’s a day for wearing sunglasses or sunscreen, it’s probably a day to use a polarizer. Rainbows can also be enhanced by shooting them with a polarizer.
If you have lenses that use different filter sizes, one way to save money is to buy one circular polarizer made for the largest filter size lens you own. For example, if you have two lenses, one that takes 77mm filters and one that takes 58mm filters, you would buy one polarizer that is 77mm. Then you can use an inexpensive adapter known as a “step up ring” to fit the larger filter onto the smaller lens.
Manhattan View from Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass
Dynamic range sounds like something complicated. It isn’t. Basically, it refers to the ratio of light intensities the camera is able to capture. The human eye is usually quite adept at rapid adjustments and the brain puts the image together. We “see” the scene in all its glory, from the brightest bits to the darkest details in the shadows.
The camera isn’t as clever. You’ll often find the dynamic range of a scene exceeds your camera’s ability to capture it. You’ll try to shoot a particular scene and straight of the camera, either the shadows will be too dark, or the highlights will be blown out.
Here is a new shot of the Roosevelt Island Tram I took the other day. The Tram is actually one of the few aerial *commuter* trams in the world. It runs from 59th and 2nd in Manhattan to Main Street on Roosevelt Island. The cost is the same as a ride on the subway.
You might be wondering about the sky in this shot and how I got the clouds to pop out like that. Well, I used a lens filter known as a Circular Polarizer.
Some photos work in black and white, some don’t. My friend James, has a philosophy that if the color isn’t contributing anything, he just removes it.
Personally, (and this is just my opinion) , that’s too extreme for me. My default is to keep my photos in color and only go to black and white on two occasions. (1) if my shot really works in b&w or (2) if the color is very distracting and doesn’t work in the shot.
In Lightroom, you can get to black and white quickly by pressing the letter “V.” This will give the photo a default b&w mix. You’ll then need to tweak how each color responds to grayscale treatment. For shots with lots of sky, it helps to force the cyan and blue to be dark grey or even black because this will make the clouds pop out of the sky.
Other settings to play with are the white balance, fill light, blacks, and exposure. When I get something nice, I often add this as a preset so I can apply the same b&w mix to similar shots. For information on how to have even greater control over your black and whites in Photoshop, please see this article by James Maher.