Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Category: Project365
License: CC-BY-NC-SA (What does this mean?)


Searchlights shining from tops of buildings in Brisbane City


Kurilpa Bridge, Brisbane
General location: Australia, South-East Queensland

The Setup:

As part of the Brisbane Festival, every night there has been a light show over the Brisbane River.

I had a spot in mind to photograph this from at Southbank, but missed my train and got there late. Southbank was packed with people, and in the end it didn't matter as my lens was not wide enough. Luckily they have two showings per night, so I hung around (and had a picnic with Evelyn), and set myself up on the Kurilpa Bridge for the second run.

I was set up with the tripod and cable release. For the first show, I was doing my test shots while the show was on! For the second show, I had time to test the light and see that between 60 and 120 seconds was a good exposure. With the magic of raw + Lightroom, and knowing that I didn't necessarily need to keep the colours true, I had great leverage with the exposure.

The camera & lens:

Camera: Canon EOS 400D DIGITAL
Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II @ 18mm
Exposure: 91" @ f/11, ISO 100 (M, bulb mode with cable release and tripod)

Post processing:

Lightroom - I used a curves adjustment that brightened the beams of light (lights +45, darks +35, shadows -15). I also set recovery +100, fill light +70 (to lighten everything) and blacks +100 (to bring it all back to earth). I did some spot removal (healing) to get rid of some stars and aircraft (the only one remaining was too big to get rid of with Lightroom's simple tools). Final adjustment was noise reduction +45.

The wash-up:

The Sigma 10-20 would have been great for this. There was a lot more in the shoe than what I've captured here, but this is all that I could get with the 18-55.

What would you do?

You are welcome to have a go at editing this photo yourself. When editing in browser, maximum size is 1600x1200px and edits can be saved as a comment if you want to share your work. Go crazy!

If you'd rather, you can download the original/raw image to play with in your own image editor:
Download original file in DNG format Download original file in JPEG format

Related Images:

19 Responses to “Project365 [264/365]: City of Lights”

    • lime-red (

      A good point. I hadn’t thought about the finer detail being drowned out. Here is an update with the saturation and exposure reduced on the buildings:
      Does that work a bit better?

          • yellowcushion (

            I took a look through your blog and there is some really promising stuff in there. If I could make a suggestion; some of the editing is what knocked the quality of the image down a bit. This one for example. I like the crop, the shot is really quite good and you have all your highlight detail. But then it’s edited and all your highlights are blown right out, and there is more saturation to the colours than necessary, and it’s not as good an image. Keep doing what you’re doing, but maybe think about keeping things just slightly more true to life from time to time.

            Edit: Also take any advice on reddit with a grain of salt, you’re shooting good images, do whatever you think looks right. As long as that isn’t HDR, because then you’re wrong.


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