Patriarch’s Ponds

One of the stylistic ploys I have learned recently is composing cityscapes with a human by a side of the frame defining the mood and giving the sense of depth. In the Cambridge series she was looking into the camera since I took a candid shot in her full view. Here in Moscow in a canonical part of the city made famous by a popular novel, nobody is looking at you, at least interesting people rarely do. They are communicating like crazy. My God, is there so much to say that the freshness of a warm, early autumn day, l’été indian, l’estate di San Martino, бабье лето, (delete as appropriate) should be allowed to pass you by unnoticed?!

Normally I like my cityscapes to be in focus, but here I had my “Summilux” on wide open, and since the girl didn’t seem to care one jot, I brought the camera up to the eye level and waited for her to float into the depth of field. Which she obediently did. The bokeh was just right, airy and creamy, but leaving enough context. What was difficult to capture were the background highlights, which I wanted to prevent from blanking out — I needed them for the summerly ambiance. I needed her jacket to lustre, and her arm to sculpt, too, but I took the gamble and underexposed by three stops.

Of course I recorded raw rather than jpeg (an option not easily available on a mobile phone, but this was my proper camera), and I pulled the full range back in post with bated breath. It kind of worked. The highlights had been captured fully. A bit too noisy (say: “grainy” and it’s OK) in the shadows, but almost HDR in feel…

PS [12 Oct 2019] I unexpectedly discovered the denoise function for raw footage. Stupid of me. However, the icon in the form of two triangles (pyramids? cones?) is idiotic. Nobody in their right mind would associate it with noise reduction. I nearly bought myself a copy of x-transformer from Iridient Digital but, as I always do, decided to read comparative reviews first. That’s where I found a screen shot of Adobe Camera Raw, and the rest is history. No artefacts, no “wormy” skin, all cured.

The image above is now looking plausible (the old copy was marginal at best). So… –3 stops next time without fear.

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