Big City Lights (HDR)

Big City Lights (HDR)

The story of this photo

…Going Pro …New Baby …New Content …A Whole New Life

This 3-shot HDR image was taken at the shore of Lake Ontario and it shows the skyline of Toronto, Canada with the CN Tower to the right. I have been there for one week in July.

…Going Pro

This is actually the first shot that I publish from that trip. It has been a crazy few months. So many big things happened, and I have that strange feeling that they ran past me in a mix of time-lapse and fast-forward. My “old” job ended at the end of August. I had a 6-year contract as a scientist at a university. That is now history and I am giving myself one year now to see if I can make a living from my photography. That is kind of exciting and a bit scary too. But I am fully aware that it is a real privilege to be given so much support from you and from my family. My wife supports me 100% and she believes in me. I feel so blessed.

…New Baby

That in itself is already big news, at least for me. But it is not the biggest news. Two weeks ago, my wife gave birth to a baby girl. It is our first child, so it is unchartered territory for us. Little Nina is healthy and such a sweetheart. Sometimes, it feels as if she has got more patience with us than we have with her.

…New Content

I have also worked feverishly under the hood of to improve my service to you and to bring you new content. I have moved my subscriber list to a new provider. Making sure that everybody has a smooth transition and preparing the website for the new subscription process took quite a while. Since I wanted to give you a little bonus too, I have written an eBook called “HDR Top Tips” that every subscriber gets for free. Last but not least I am preparing a series of eBooks about various photographic topics for you. In reference to the HDR Cookbook – the blog the really started all of this – I am calling it The Photo Cookbook Series. The Photo Cookbook Series (PCS) is a series of eBooks and other educational material that provide in-depth practical information on different photographic topics and offer practical guidance to photographers at any level.

…A Whole New Life

So, over the past three months, I have been mighty busy preparing new content and features here at and changing diapers. 😉 You could actually say that I am starting a whole new life, and I sincerely hope that you will be with me in this adventure.

How the photos were shot

How the HDR image was tonemapped

  • CA reduction and white balance correction on all source exposures in Adobe Camera Raw
  • Saved the 3 images as TIFFs
  • Created an additional +4 EV images from the original +2 EV source photo [details]
  • Applied noise reduction (Topaz Denoise) to each of the source images [details]
  • Resulting TIFF images were then used as input to Photomatix (Details Enhancer option)

How the tonemapped image was post-processed

  • Post-processing was done in Photoshop
  • Topaz Adjust on the boats and the skyline for enhancing the colors and the lighting [details]
  • Topaz Infocus on the boats and the skyline for intelligent sharpening
  • Levels layer on the boats and the skyline (more contrast)
  • Saturation layer on the boats and the skyline (master / yellows)
  • Curves layer on the water (more contrast for a more reflective look)
  • Saturation layer on the water (blues)
  • Levels layer on the reflection of the skyline (some extra contrast)
  • Levels layer on the sky (more contrast)
  • Saturation layer on the sky (blues)
  • Slight vignetting [details]
  • Watermarking [details]
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30 replies
  1. Lewis Mann
    Lewis Mann says:

    I bought my 1st DSLR last December, a Nikon D3100. Then I discovered HDR and was led to your website. I must say that about 95% of everything HDR that I’ve learned came from your “cookbook” and videos.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, the shooting of and processing of your fantastic images.

    I can’t imagine you not succeeding in photography fulltime. Have you considered an Agent for marketing your images?

    Congratulations on your 1st child! I trust you are documenting everything in RAW or Iphone Jpeg. 🙂

    I always look forward to your communications. I always learn something more. Now, I really have to learn how to use levels and saturation layers!

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Lewis,

      I am really happy to see that you are learning from my cookbook. Thanks for giving me your feedback. I appreciate that a lot!

      I am not using any agents yet for marketing. I am concentrating on other things right now. As for Nina, our little baby, of course my memory cards are full. 🙂

      Thanks for your trust and loyalty, Lewis!


  2. Bill Kossmann
    Bill Kossmann says:

    Congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your daughter, and best wishes on your new photographic career!

  3. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    Hi Klaus,
    Congratulations on baby Nina, and on your new career adventure. I am looking forward to learning more from you and hearing about the little one.


  4. Ron
    Ron says:

    Great to see you made it to Toronto,wonderful shot of the city skyline. Congratulations on your new daughter, Nina. She will a much to your life.

  5. Mark
    Mark says:

    Hi Klaus

    Congratulations on the birth of you daughter. It’s awesome that you are giving it a go at going Pro. I sincerely hope it works for you.
    All the best

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks! How can it not work??? 😉 I always think positive, and I know that it will work one way or the other. There are so many opportunities out there if you have an open mind.

      Cheers, mate!

  6. Murray Parker
    Murray Parker says:

    Hi Klaus,

    First of all, congratulations on your new born. Also for you new endeavor as a full time photographer. You have many followers, I for one, who wish you the best and hope that you will be sucessful beyond your expectations. The ebooks sound great and I look forward to purchasing many of them. I would like to see and in depth video or webinar by you with detailed instructions on how you totally process your photos, for a fee of course. I love the way you process your images and have learned a lot from you HDR Cookbook. Thanks for all you hard work and good luck to you.


    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Thanks so much, Murray! It’s great to have you support. All the people who follow what I do are such a strong positive force for me. I hope you’re staying tuned!


  7. Mark Blundell
    Mark Blundell says:

    This is great news on all fronts.

    Best of luck with the next year pursuing your photographic career and looking after and caring for your new arrival.

    I have no doubt you’ll be successful in both ventures.

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Mark!

      Thanks, my friend! I am doing my best on all fronts, and I am 100% positive about it. 🙂 Thanks for your wishes.


  8. Tim Pursall
    Tim Pursall says:

    Big City Lights and sleepless nights eh Klaus? Many congratulations on your new addition and your venture into full-time photography!

    Many of the techniques I employ in my HDR processing are down to you and I look forward to your e-books etc.


    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Thanks so much, Tim!

      Yes, our sleeping habits are surely changing by the day. 🙂 But I am so happy that I am now able to really see my daughter grow up. I work more than ever now, but I am always close to my family.

      Cheers, my friend!

  9. Pat Kavanagh
    Pat Kavanagh says:

    Congratulation Klaus and Family! So nice to see that you made it to Canada too! If you went a little further West out to Alberta you would have seen the Canadian Rocky Mountains – much nicer than Toronto! ….and I should know, cause I grew up near Toronto! Next time “Go West Young Man”! Am looking forward to seeing all of the changes with your web site(s). – Pat.

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Pat, thanks a lot!

      Yeah, I did not have that much flexibility on that stay because it was actually a business trip. But I’ll be back to visit the rest of the country… That was kind of a bold statement, wasn’t it? LOL What a big and great country you have.

      Cheers, my friend!

  10. Patrick Ahles
    Patrick Ahles says:

    Great shot, and great story. Congratulations on the baby, and on the new adventure with your photography! I have learned quite a lot since I found your site, even if I haven’t had time to study it all. I’m slowly trying everything, trying to understand what is happening. Keep up the good work!

  11. Robert
    Robert says:

    Hello and congratulations on the baby.
    I really appreciate your effort in providing resources for HDR phographers and believe you will successful. Although I like your work, but here you overshoot the target. IMHO it’s overprocessed.
    Sorry man!

    Looking forward to see more of you work.
    Take care,

  12. james lyons
    james lyons says:

    I feel most confident that in the year you are giving yourself to earn a living from your photography that you will find you are MORE than able to do that. Your photography is great if not superb and your heart is even greater- look at what you do with your web page and sharing with us.
    You could also teach photography if you have time or run a seminar/shooting session for several days as a teaching component.

    You WILL make it, you have too much on your side not to.

    All the best!

  13. Mike Duncan
    Mike Duncan says:

    Somehow I missed this earlier, but congratulations with your new baby girl. Here’s hoping that she brings much joy to your lives going forward.

    I agree with James, and am quite sure that you will do well as a professional photographer.

    – Mike D.

  14. Bruno Lombard
    Bruno Lombard says:

    I do think destiny has appointments with a few people.
    You definitely is one of the happy few.
    You have a vision and the way and the ‘know how’ to share it.
    I am very curious in observing how the meeting will take place, I mean you and your future…
    Let us know et as we say in French ‘MERDE’ !!!

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Thanks a lot, Bruno!

      I am also curious about my ‘appointment with destiny’. There are great times ahead. And we will certainly find a way to fight through the not-so-good times.


  15. Stuart Dyckhoff
    Stuart Dyckhoff says:

    I downloaded the “pics to play with” because I saw this via my email – however what I hadn’t done at that stage was read the actual post.

    Now that I have finally got around to playing with the pics … then let me say congratulations with the baby – I’m sure you’ll be a fantastic dad. Secondly let me wish you all the best in your ‘going Pro’ – I’m sure you’ll make it. You certainly deserve to do so.

    I recommend this blog all the time to friends and colleagues that are interested in HDR

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Thank you very much for the nice wishes and for recommending my website, Stuart!

      It’s be an exciting time for me, and I hope you’ll stick around to see how things develop.



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