Getting the Shot

Dallas, Texas Skyline

Location

This photo was taken from my hotel room window on the 19th floor of the Magnolia hotel, overlooking Dallas and the artistic district of the city.


Time

I captured the photo at dusk on a cloudy day. I waited until the city lights began to appear, since I was trying capture the cloud movement in the photo in addition to the city lights. This would would have been difficult if the scene were at night in full darkness.

Lighting

The previous evening, I studied the scene and decided to capture a long exposure the following evening, the duration of which would be determined by the speed of the cloud movement. I found that, just after sunset, the scene projected an optimal compromise between city light and cloud visibility. I used a 6-stop ND filter as a base for the scene and then added a graduated ND filter over sky, in order to neutralize the contrast between sky and buildings. I found that best presentation of cloud movement was achieved with a thirty second exposure.

Equipment

The camera used was a Nikon D-850 with a Nikkor 16-35mm lens. I use a Manfrotto carbon quick-release tripod with Sirui ball mount. I have a complete Lee ND filter system, which is a U.K.-based company. I’ve been absolutely delighted with the performance and durability of the Lee filter system.


Editing

Over time, I’ve become more adept at communicating artistically through the use of Adobe Lightroom. I applied a number of small adjustments in order to enhance the dramatic movement in the clouds. This involved applying some graduated ND filter overlays.

Inspiration

We booked a room at the Magnolia hotel in Dallas, which is located near art district in Dallas. You can see an eyeball in lower left of the photo, which is quite large when standing next to it. The scene from our room projected an interesting juxtaposition of modern and older architecture. The predominantly glass office buildings also captured the reflections of some of the older buildings, creating an almost integrative relationship between old and new. The inspiration, for me, was the challenge of creating an integration between old and new, while conveying Mother Nature’s drama in the cloud movement above.

In my camera bag

Depending where’re I travel will determine what equipment I bring. I use multiple purpose-built camera bags. I usually carry two camera bodies, a Nikon D-850 and a backup D-810, and assorted lenses. I also bring my Lee filtration system wherever I go since like photograph in between dawn and dusk.


Suggestions for Aspiring Photographers

If you glance at my gallery, you’ll see that I’m not normally a cityscape photographer. Yet since we were in a city, I thought it would be a great to apply my craft on a new subject area. I always try to push my artistic limits by photographing new and different subject matter any chance I get. This is one of the many ways in which I’ve developed into a better photographer. My advice to inquisitive photographers is to constantly challenge yourself to become better by photographing subjects that are unfamiliar to you and also to become an expert in Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom allows you to add that “artistic touch” which defines your photography as your own.