Towers of Oracle

Towers of Oracle
Tech Info: Nikon D300s | Tokina 12-24 @20mm | ISO 200 | f/16 | ~3 mins
A night view of the Oracle towers located at Redwood Shores in California.

It was sometime during my college days that I fell in love with Oracle’s technology stack and the dream of working for it. It took 3 years after college that I ditched a very lucrative overseas career to work for this company. Have no regrets. If I have to do it all over it again, will do the same thing.
This was one of those shots that things go wrong at the location in spite of all planning. It was sometime in the afternoon that a glance at weather forecast said its going to be clear skies. By evening I had made up my mind to finish of all the house chores for the day and get in time for the blue hour. I even had the composition in mind and the lens choice. Reached the spot quite early. This always gives a good feeling for me as I can try out couple of test shots and be prepared when the time comes. I setup the tripod, mount the camera, fire a test shot and notice a big blotch of finger print. No big deal. All I had to do was clean the lens.
Usually my camera bag does contain a lens cleaning cloth, but for some reason (that I still can’t figure out), it wasn’t there. Then the frantic search for a lint-free cloth begins. I ransack the entire bag, still not there. Ran back to the parking lot to see if I had left it in the car. While running, there is a fight going on in my mind. On onside of the ring, the logical guy knows that I don’t keep the lens cleaning cloth lying around in the dash and on the other side, the eternal hopeful says that “who knows…it might be there…let it be there…please”. The fight was one-sided as the logical guy was right. Couldn’t find a single thing which wasn’t lint-free. For no reason, my hand reaches the winter jacket pocket and I find a small lint-free cloth that I got from
Being happy that I could now clean the lens, I go back, clean the lens and take some more test shots. The blue hour time comes and during the first shot itself, the battery on the intervalometer shows signs of last breath. Dang! Now I don’t even have the time to run to a nearest gas station to by some. The whole idea of having an intervalometer was to set the exposure time in it and forget about me counting it through an iPhone count-down timer. I press my luck and it starts to behave very differently. It was more like “is it going to work for this one time…nope, let’s try again”. I’ve no idea how it finished, but at least it did get my shot that I was planning from afternoon 🙂
Now when I look back at it, they weren’t that big of a deal and nothing to fret so much, but they can be so frustrating in the field.

  1. Used Lightroom 2.5 to convert the raw image with some basic adjustments to white balance.
  2. In Photoshop CS4, cloned out the star trails and a plane trail.
  3. Blended another 30s exposure for the ‘oracle’ sign and some hotspots.
  4. A hue/saturation layer for the blues to reduce the lightness of it.
  5. A noise reduction layer on the sky.
  6. A layer of perspective correction.
  7. Resized the image for web and added smart-sharpen layer.
  8. Used Bridge to add keywords and metadata.

Hover your mouse over the image to see the Before version.

11 thoughts on “Towers of Oracle

  1. wow…this has got to be the one with most stark difference in it’s before and after form….superb…as usual you know where this one’s going to land up 😉

  2. Sudhi this is stunning…great shot..very well compose and processed. How do you reduce noise and what sharping tool do you use?

    1. Thanks Nitin.

      I use the Topaz DeNoise plugin for photoshop. Had got that one long time ago when it was on some deal and hadn’t used it, but have started now and I’m pretty happy with the results I get. A lot of folks prefer to use the Noiseware and I hear its very good.

      For the sharpening, I just use the Photoshop’s built-in plugin. Off late I’ve been using more of smart-sharpen filter though. Feels pretty easy to use that one than the others.

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