Digital Workflow – Craig Passero, November 2012

I shot this photo with Craig Passero in early November, a few days after Hurricane Sandy had made landfall in the Northeast. The power had just been restored in the Lower East Side in Manhattan, but most buildings downtown were still unplugged. It was eerie and dramatic, and this photograph was created. Care to know more? Scroll down for a walkthrough.

960×640 (iPhone 3/4)

1136×640 (iPhone 5)





1920×1080 (widescreen)


2048×1536 (iPad)

2880×1800 (Retina display)

The Making Of:
The city was moody in the wake of Sandy, and downtown was still pretty dark. It was about to be sunset, but you couldn’t tell because of the heavy cloud coverage. I think it had actually been raining earlier in the day. We were riding downtown and rolled up on these aluminum benches; a popular skate spot, not so much for bikes. My dude Allen Ying shot a memorable photo of Stevie Williams on these benches, which instantly sparked some inspiration to create this photo. Hanger was pretty much the go-to for the spot, and luckily Craig was carrying a plastic peg in his bag. He had no problem doing it, and it’s actually the opening trick on a crazy line he filmed for the next Whammo mixtape.

I found my angle (50mm) using the lines of the bike path, the highway overhang and the Brooklyn Bridge all as eyepaths to lead you to the action. I had only two flashes with me that day, both Lumedyne 200w Action Packs. I set one up as a rim light, placed roughly 18 feet away, metered at f/8, or perhaps f/9.6 (his shirt is a bit blown out). The other one was placed to the left, about 9 feet away, powered down to 100w and metered at f/8. I shot at f/5.6 so that both flashes would have a highlighting effect, popping Craig out of the dark background. I had envisioned more pan-blur (used 1/60 shutter) but didn’t get as much on this shot (see below).

Here is what the RAW looked like-

Brought it into Photoshop and rotated it to make the horizon straight-

Took a crop (the crops on the wallpapers will be a bit different because of the aspect ratios)-

Here’s where it gets weird– the “Pier 17” text in the background was a little too distracting, so I opened up one of the earlier shots in which I had panned a bit more, blurring the text-

Made a selection of the text and copied it into the good shot-

Created a layer mask and smoothed out the edges-

I wanted to add a bit more drama to the sky and city, so I created a Curves adjustment layer, brought the midtones down and gave it a bit colder hue-

I forgot to screenshot the mask, but here’s what it looks like-

What I did was brush in Craig and his bike at 100%, then gradually decreased the opacity but increased the size of the brush so that there would be a nice, smooth transition of lightness surrounding the action that would easily fade into the surrounding darkness. That might sound confusing- I should do a video of that, yeah?

The only thing left to nitpick was this one light from the bridge sticking out of Craig’s head-

Did a quick clone stamp to get that out. Now to sharpen. How I sharpen (there are many ways) is described here. I’m working with the lightness channel in Lab mode, which converts the image temporarily to black and white. I landed on 500% sharpen with a 0.2 pixel radius (for 2880×1800; I used a different amount relative to the size of the image– I only sharpened 200% on the 960×640 wallpaper)-

Here’s a quick 100% zoom to check out the difference that sharpening makes (before and after)-

So then I saved this image as the master template and made a different version for each display resolution. It might display weird in your browser because it is in the Adobe 1998 color profile and most browsers prefer sRGB- it will look normal on your desktop. The reason I chose Adobe 1998 is because it has a wider color gamut; it’s barely noticeable, but it’s there. If you are obsessed with quality, like myself, I have uncompressed 16-bit TIF versions of all of these, just email me (scott at scott marceau dot com) and I’ll hook you up with the real shit.

If you’re still reading this, I thank you for caring because this stuff matters to me. I hope you enjoy the photo and use it as your desktop background. There will be more of these, probably a new one every month or so. Join the Flickr group, upload your best riding photos and maybe the next wallpaper will be shot by you! Push it a stop!

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