I captured this photo from the old castle wall at the Royal Palace in Budapest. If you want to shoot the sunset from this location you have to get there like 30-60 min before the sunset or else it can be very hard to get a spot. Many people go up there to see the city illuminate.
I did not want to take up to much space, so I set my tripod against the wall. That way people could easily get by me. Just because you have a lot of gear set up, does not mean that you can fill it all.
I went up there to get a beautiful shot of the Chain bridge with the Hungarian Parliament in the background. However, I also wanted to capture the “green minute” that I had heard about. Even though my exposures where only 10 sec at this time, I only managed to get two exposures – one while the bridge column was glowing green and another when parts of the Parliament where green.
So I naturally planned to blend the two shots together. So be prepared when you get up there course you only have a very short time to get a shot like this, you definitely need to be prepared.
At the end of this article you can download a low-res version of the PSD.
To post-process this I used Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC (2015) and I chose to use both exposures so that I could get the green glow on the Parliament and on the Chain bridge. From there I went a very usual way for me when post-processing my photos.
After the initial blending, which was very easy in this situation, I started out with some cleaning up. Healing out dust spots and removing the little part of the wall that I got in the shot.
I also like to add some local glow to the city lights. I do that by selecting an orange tone from the photo and brush it over a 50% grey dodge and burn layer set to Soft Light. To make it blend in more natural I add a layer mask with an Applied Image to it – that way I restrict the glow to the highlights.
When the cleaning is done, I really want to take care of the noise. Even though this photo where shot at ISO 50, there is still a bit of noise. If I start to enhance the contrast, I will also enhance the noise so a good tip is to take care of the noise as early as possible. In this situation, I used the Topaz DeNoise plugin – but sometimes I also use Nik Define.
I have different ways to add contrast. I used to use the Nik Color Efex Pro Contrast a lot. However, lately I have been getting better results by using some of the channels to get more contrast. I do that by applying the channel with the appropriate contrast, to a new layer. Then I set that layer to the Luminosity blending mode. Most of the times you need to take down the opacity a bit. If you do not want the contrast everywhere, you can of course mask it out. Here I used the red channel and the blue channel (masked) to add contrast.
After that, I needed to add some saturation back. My favorite way is to duplicate the image and set the duplicate to LAB Color mode. Then you can control the saturation by adding a curve and disable its effect on the Lightness channel. When I get the right result, I simple make it into a Smart Object and drag it back on top of the original image and set the blending mode to Color.
Some final color adjustments are usually needed. I tend to use the Color Balance for this. However, this time I also used Selective Color adjustment, I typically use it when there is a specific color I need to adjust the tone of.
The last step is sharpening. There are a trillion different ways to sharpen your photos. I usually use high pass sharpening. The blending mode can be very different depending on the effect you want. Here the Vivid Light blending mode at 50% opacity worked best.
Download PSD file