What to do when the weather doesn’t co-operate?

We have all been there – we travel to some location, perhaps on vacation, and then the weather isn’t really that good for photography. Do you still take your photos and then what do you do with them on your return? I recently went to New York City for a couple of days and although it was generally dry and a partially sunny, we took a trip to Staten Island on the (free) ferry past the Statue of Liberty and then back to Manhattan. I’ll get onto what I took shortly, but my ideas for processing developed when I saw that this:

had earned over $400 since I uploaded it – far more than any of the similar images that have the normal pretty glum water in front of the city. Admittedly, most of those sales were from iStock and Getty, but I’m still not complaining! So back to New York. This is what my image looked like out of the camera:

Not the most inspiring image of New York that I have ever seen! No sunlight on the buildings, grayish sky and boring water! One for the junk pile! But I decided that if it was so dull, I might as well go overboard in processing it and see if I could get something that would catch a buyer’s attention, so I really bumped up the clarity and depth in the sky, used Raya Pro to select the highlights in the buildings to burn in those a bit more and lighten them, and I did the same for the darker areas to increase midtone contrast. Then I totally replaced the water using the Flood plugin from Flaming Pear. This plugin gives a wide range of water effects, although it does a mirror type reflection and so I drew around the edge of the land in Manhattan to give me a mask that would make the join between land and the new sea look more realistic. After maybe 30 minutes work, I ended up with this:

Manhattan after the sea level rises…

Enough to make someone at least stop twice when they see my thumbnail in their search – I hope!

I did manage to capture some interesting shots on the ferry though:

Commuter or tourist leaving New York City

I submitted this as commercial as you can’t recognize the traveler from this back view and it could be used for many different sorts of story about going to (or leaving) New York City. I was also lucky to be in the city very close to the famous ManhattanHenge event and got to this overlook over 42nd Street almost by accident, but managed to get a nice position where I could rest my camera on the railings over the road:

I used Raya Pro with its luminosity masks to create this from two different exposures – one for the sky and sun, and one for the buildings and the street. Impossible to get all this dynamic range in one exposure.

So the message is – don’t be afraid of going over the top to improve poor light conditions.


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7 Responses

  1. Mohammed says:

    Hi Steve, as for the image with the person’s head and the background, does Shutterstock accept images like this for commercial use if any recognizable building or landmark appears in the image, such as Burj Khalifa or other well-known landmarks? Thanks.

    • admin says:

      The general rule is (as I understand it) – with people, the “man in the street” should not be able to recognize them. So although this young lady could identify herself, that is not sufficient. For protected buildings, they should not be the focus of the image. So a protected building in a general cityscape would be OK. A focus on that one building would not. Hence my manipulated images of the NY skyline are OK. Having said this, I did two similar shots of the skyline of Sydney to include the Opera House in a small part of the image. Both were rejected by SS, so it must depend on the reviewer as well. I did have the keyword Sydney Opera House, so I’ll probably upload them again sometime without those keywords.

  2. AlessandraRC says:

    I have had very poor luck uploading unrecognizable pictures of people. Even silhouettes have been rejected, I don’t even try anymore. A few of those I upload to Alamy as RM, let them decide weather it can or cannot be used commercially.

    I rarely re-submit images these days but in the past I have and sometimes it gets approved under new eyes. This is particularly true when it comes to property issues.

  1. July 2, 2018

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  2. July 7, 2018

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