Saturday, July 5, 2008

High Rise - High Key

I've been making a pass through some images that I have shot in the past looking for ones that I may have overlooked, or images that might give me a chance to experiment with. The image above is the result of one such experiment. The structure in this shot is the Trilogy Apartments in Boston, Massachusetts. The building is located about a block or two from Fenway Park. I was in Boston on vacation and had been wandering around taking pictures. It was late in the day and the sun was setting. This created some nice warm colors and a deep blue sky. I found the structure of the apartment building to be very interesting. I've always been attracted to buildings with strong geometric qualities so I took a few shots of the building from various angles. When I originally was looking over the images from the trip, I passed on the ones I had taken of the apartment building. I liked the underlying image, but it just didn't click with me.

As I was reviewing my images I once again took a look at the one you see to the left. I liked the color and shape, but it didn't really convey the geometric nature that had attracted me to the building in the first place.

My first thought was to produce a color image with the sky darkened. The windows in the color image were all dark and I thought the image might look nice if I replaced the blue sky with a black sky and left everything else alone.

In an effort to move the image in that direction, I bumped the blacks a bit in Camera Raw and then remove the saturation of the blues in the image and reduced the luminosity as well. This didn't completely blacken the sky, but it gave me a good start. My original plan was to go into Photoshop and use a curve and some masking to turn the sky black and then work on the rest of the building.

Before I did any more work on color/contrast I decided that I didn't like the way the building was tilting away from the camera. I didn't have the luxury of using a perspective correcting lens so I had to resort to some Photoshop post-processing to clean things up a bit. The first thing I did was create an editable layer which would let me do some transformations. I selected Transform->Skew and moved the upper left and right corners out until the sides of the building were parallel with the side of the image frame. The image below shows where I placed the corners.

Adjusting the skew caused the building to become quite short so my next task was to stretch the building back to something which resembled its original stature. For this I used the scale tool and simply scaled the building up until it looked right. After this, the image still had some perspective issues so I tweaked it a bit more using the warp tool. I also used the Lens Correction filter to remove a bit of barrel distortion as well.

At this point I had the image pretty much where I wanted it so I added a curves layer to darken the sky.

I liked the color version of the image seen above, but I decided to see how it would look as a black and white. I added a Black & White adjustment layer and pushed the building toward white while still keeping some detail and tonality.

I then added a curve to see if I could pull out just a bit more contrast while still keeping some tonality. As I adjusted the curve, I just kept increasing the contrast and the more extreme it got, the more I liked it. I finally used a curve which is almost vertical. The end result is what you see at the top, a pure black and white which really highlights the geometry of the building.

Technical Details

This shot was taken with an Olympus E-500 camera. The lens was the 14-54mm zoom lens zoomed to 23mm. Since the Olympus is a 4/3 camera, 23mm translates to a 35mm effective focal length of 46mm. Aperture was f/2.8 at ISO 100. The image capture was RAW and processed using Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS3.

Comments and constructive criticisms welcome.

This image (and others) are for sale in my Black and White gallery at ImageKind. Please have a look around.


All images and text Copyright © 2008 James W. Howe - All Rights Reserved.

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