Camera & Settings
Shooting in a dark environment like the metro, Lucasz prefers using his 50mm wide open at f/1.4 and an ISO of 800 – but for this shot, he equipped his Nikon D810 with a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8. The result was Lucasz’s very first underground shot with the 35mm, shot in aperture priority at ISO 800.
“I don’t like the quality or the amount of vignetting when shooting the 35mm wide open; I usually stop it down to at least f/2,” he says. “The camera settled for a 1/100s shutter speed. Since I find that a little slow, I will never choose to go below ISO 1600 in a similar situation again. I guess these small errors sometimes result in something good, though, or simply just don’t matter – this still proved to be a fairly popular photo.”
Metering-wise, Lucasz takes advantage of Nikon’s highlight priority mode. By heavily underexposing to protect the highlights, he says he can achieve the cinematic effect he’s been drawn to recently.
“The shadow detail is, of course, far easier to recover than blown highlights,” he adds.
This results in a fairly comprehensive post-processing workflow, which Lucasz has been using for the last few months and has refined to a precise art. First, he says, he applies his own HSL preset in Photoshop, which drastically changes the hue and saturation of blue shades and punches up the reds.
“I desaturate the image as a whole, but make up for it with the vibrance slider,” he says. “I push the dehaze slider a little to the right, but will sometimes balance this with negative clarity.”
Correcting the exposure, Lucasz says, depends on the scene. He uses a medium contrast tone-curve, with blacks “crushed to around five percent,” and occasionally uses split-toning to replicate the look of vintage film and add some emotional depth to his images.