Westminster fountain at sunset

by Jorge Córdoba

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I'm looking for some advice on achieving the look this photographer has:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yosigo/4670815511/

I love the style and tones of everything. Wondering what sort of thing, both on camera and with post-processing, that would produce this look.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

On the surface, it looks as though he's desaturated the colors and maybe a little exposure bump. Here's an example, the first image is only white balance adjusted to daylight:

alt text

The second image is adjusted as +1.75 exposure and -52 saturation:

alt text

You can see the drop in color intensity, while retaining reasonable contrast, that the sample images you supplied seem to show. It's an interesting effect, but probably best used judiciously. Anyways, if that's what he's doing, the degree of change I described will probably vary according to the image.

Edit: A 3rd go at it using this action from Deviant Art. It looks almost cross-processed, but not quite.

alt text

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I think there might also be a slight shift of WB towards the cooler end of the spectrum, as most of the shots are lacking any real kind of warmth. –  jrista Aug 21 '10 at 5:24
    
@jrista Yeah, that's very possible too, it's a good point. I think matt is correct in that the guy is shooting film, but it looks like his look can be created in ACR. –  John Cavan Aug 21 '10 at 12:37
    
Thanks for the examples! Great input. –  Ian Silber Aug 21 '10 at 19:23
    
@Ian You're welcome! –  John Cavan Aug 22 '10 at 0:03
    
The Photoshop action you pointed me to helped me get pretty darn close to what I want. Here's one of my photos with that effect: flickr.com/photos/yaunus/4917378891 –  Ian Silber Aug 23 '10 at 16:57

Going on the rest of his stream, looks like he's shooting with film, probably a low-saturation film like Portra NC or Astia transparency film. If forced to guess (notoriously difficult) I'd pick Astia, slightly over-exposed. Going on this other photo at the same date/location, it's quite likely shot on Kodak Portra NC 800.

Lots of his other work seems to be fairly straight scans with minimal correction, and I've had similar cold tones with a lot of scans (though usually transparency film more than negative), as the scanner lightsource tends to be quite cool.

So, to mimic that, lower the saturation, lower the contrast (at least a little), slightly cool tones in the highlights. Bring the shadows up (there are no deep blacks in the photo). Also note the lighting: it's bright, but with no hard shadows; I think it'd be difficult to get this look on a day with full sunlight and hard shadows. You could add grain/noise, but a word of caution; despite it being a fast colour film, the size of medium format makes grain a lot less obvious than the same film in 35mm.

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+1. At least one of his works seems to be shot on Kodak Portra NC 800: flickr.com/photos/yosigo/4645138113 –  Karel Aug 21 '10 at 7:18
    
@Karel good catch; I'm willing to bet that it's the same film in these two shots, given the location & date. –  ex-ms Aug 21 '10 at 8:03
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When trying to mimic it digitally - note that the blacks are not really blacks (pull the curves up in the shadows) and add film grain. @matt - feel free to add it to your answer. –  Karel Aug 21 '10 at 8:54
    
@Karel good observations, done. –  ex-ms Aug 21 '10 at 10:01
    
Awesome! Can't wait to give this a try. I have some overcast beach shots that I'll try this with. –  Ian Silber Aug 21 '10 at 19:25

I attempted to reverse the process by trying to make the image look normal though my regular workflow in Adobe RAW.

I ended up with lowering the expose by 1.5 steps, and lowering the contrast by 20. There are no hard shadows in the image, so it was probably a bit cloudy when it was taken.

So, increasing the exposure by 1.5 steps and increasing the contrast by 20 should get you pretty close.

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