Back in late April, two of my photographer friends and I took a day off work to attend Joe McNally’s class in Portland.  I’ve attended many of Joe’s classes, and have even been the subject of one of his class demos.  Joe is always entertaining and informative, and the class was no exception.  This one featured a new twist where he asked attendees to submit up to 3 images for a live critique session during the last hour of the class.  I submitted three assuming that, since there were a few hundred people in the class, none of mine would even get chosen.  Knowing Joe is a people photographer, I submitted three of my favorite people shots:

Liz & Dan


Sarah & Cooper

Well, as it turned out, only about 12 people even submitted anything, so every submitted image was chosen.  On top of that, each submitter had to identify themselves and then sit while Joe critiqued.  Overall I came out about as well as could be expected.  He pointed out some cropping and color problems with Liz & Dan and some light problems with Tim, but for the most part was pretty gentle on me.  I got lucky that most of the other submissions were not very strong and gave him more cannon fodder.

Anyway, the class ended at 5pm and we decided to stick around to shoot the Portland skyline from Pittock Mansion.  That’s one of the classic shots of Portland, but I’d never been up there so we decided to check it out.  I had done some research and there is certainly no shortage of example pics from that spot.  Also, from up there, it’s hard to put much of  a unique spin on anything.  It’s really pretty much of a single shot opportunity.  Mostly a function of how good the sunset is, and our’s was mediocre at best.  At least there was some sun.  The featured image (above) is what I had in my head before we went up there.  Last light of the sun hitting Mount Hood during blue hour with the lights of the city coming on.  Sadly, that can’t really happen, at least at that time of year.  So the above is pretty much a fake, or ahem, my “artistic interpretation”.  To give you an idea, below are a couple of the unprocessed shots that provided the raw material:

Last light on Mount Hood (no city lights on yet, sensor spots and all)



Blue hour, city lights coming up, sun long gone


I shot it as a 9 shot pano, camera vertical, and stitched it together using Lightroom 6’s new pano stitching.  This was the first pano I tried using LR6 and it worked really well.  I also stitched it my  normal way in Photoshop CS6 and couldn’t see any difference.  Good for Adobe – the LR6 flow is a nice improvement.  Once stitched, I took the top shot of the lit up mountain, extracted the mountain itself, scaled it to size, color matched it, and blended it into the pano.  Finished up with Nik Color Efex Tonal Contrast and a blue saturation bump.