Moody Garden Bridge at Dawn

  • f2.8
  • 2s
  • 57mm
  • 100

  • f2.8
  • 2s
  • 57mm
  • 100
The view from Zhapu bridge is one of the classical sunrise locations, if you want good photos from the Lujiazui skyline. Depending on the weather, dozens of photographers and drone pilots gather here before sunrise and start setting up their equipment.
The Suzhou river is flowing very slowly due to closed flooding gates that lead into the Huangpu river. This makes for perfect reflections of the skyline even at slow shutter speed.

The following equipment was used to produce this image:

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  • Shooting
    At that particular morning, the weather was all but satisfying. The city was covered in thick haze, that is quite common in winter season. So I didn't expect for any interesting pictures and opted for long-exposure pictures, possibly to go b/w.
    My expectations for a fascinating picture were limited. I originally planned some drone photographs from that location, but they all turned out rather unsatisfactory. So while I was flying, I kept taking pictures from the tripod of various angles.
  • Behind the scenes
  • Subject
    I have countless pictures taken from that bridge, so when composing I always make sure to have the full pearl-tower and other skyscrapers from Lujiazui completely in the picture and try to get in as much of the reflection as possible, without having too much distractions on either side.
    So this time, I opted for a slight zoom at around 50mm that gave me the composition I liked.
  • Exposure
    I arrived 1 hour before sunrise on a pretty hazy day.
    Then at around 6 in the morning, the light from the adjacent building started turning on as if they were preparing for a laser show. It was shortly before Chinese New Year so it was likely, they started setting up their equipment. After noticing it, I immediately changed the settings to go for a shorter shutter speed, so I could still make out the light beam. The only way to achieve it was to go with the wide open aperture and I reached 2 sec exposure time.
    • Editing
      As you can see from the before and after pictures, quite a lot of editing was involved to make the flat image pop out more interestingly. I started by adjusting the color temperature to a more blueish setting and increase the exposure quite significantly. I then increased the whites even further but darkened the other highlights, to get a better distinction of the white light beam. Adding clarity and texture makes everything pop a little more and brings out the fine details of the buildings.

    • After the basic settings have been applied, I turned to the color adjustments. I wanted to have the oranges and yellows, especially on the side of the river, more prominent and increased their saturation and luminisoity.
      The increase in magenta saturation was supposed to bring the magenta in the pearl tower out more promptly.

    • Finally I color toned the picture into a dark orange/brown mixture, to have an overarchingly better color harmony.