I came across this guy's work and love the look and how clean it is. Besides removing the saturation, and strong clarity, what else is involved in getting this type of clean and detailed look?

http://westarca.tumblr.com/post/72285809439/harlem-nights-photography-by-wes-tarca http://westarca.tumblr.com/post/71278876613/the-great-bridge-photography-by-wes-tarca

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Clean = low noise? Something else? Please clarify. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Jan 22, 2014 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ what do you mean by removing saturation? those don't look desaturated to me \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Jan 23, 2014 at 0:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might be some compositing in there as well. On the first image the video billboard in the background to the left looks a little cleaner than I would expect for an image that had to have a relatively long exposure. I am also impressed by the clean white balance across the image, I find it a real challenge when shooting long exposures in cities with all the different color lights. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 23, 2014 at 4:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ There appears to be a lot of compositing going on, and some very subtle but effective localized tone mapping (once referred to as 'dodging and burning' and more recently called single exposure HDR). \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 23, 2014 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Makes sense that there may be some compositing going on. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 23, 2014 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


What exactly do you mean by 'clean'?

From what I can tell, the post-processing they've used has included:

  • Reducing orange street light cast either by using the temperature slider or red curves
  • Boosted contrast
  • Probably some image sharpening
  • As has been mentioned in the comments, compositing has also probably been used

Oh, and the starburst effects around the stationary lights were achieved by using a small aperture (large f-number)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks I'll give that a try. And yes the starburst are from it being a long exposure. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 23, 2014 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually the starbursts are due directly to the aperture being small. I presume this is because the light passes through a small hole which is actually polygonal. \$\endgroup\$
    – binaryfunt
    Jan 23, 2014 at 21:52

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