The Corner of Future and Past



I have worked around trees and posts and anything else that has seemed to get in the way of what I thought to be the correct composition (The Building).  For the most part it has worked out I guess, still don’t like trees.  But I have learned to embrace the light pole and the stop light.  I will admit it has taken some time of being out in the field shooting and realizing that shooting around those posts and stop lights wasn’t getting what I wanted.  I looked towards other photographers and how they worked around such things and I came to the realization that they didn’t work around the poles and such but embraced the scene.  They used those what I would call “distractions” to compliment the subject but also get the composition they wanted instead of working around the distraction and getting a subpar composition.
On this particular image I did get a little blessed being at the right place at the right time.  This image is the front corner of the Staples Center in LA.  It just so happened that I went into LA on Sunday morning (Like I usually do) and it was just after the Kings won the Stanley Cup and the next day was the parade.   The street in front of the Staples center was closed off for the parade so I  could get the composition I wanted right out in the middle of the street for a long exposure and didn’t have to worry about getting run over (how cool is that).  On a side note all you architecture photographers know that the main cause of injury and harm to us Architectural Photographers  is getting run over by a car or bus from shooting in the middle of the street.  2nd side note, if you shoot in the middle of the street the security guards can’t do anything about it either. (I don’t know if that is a side note or “the tip of the day”)
Anyway, sometimes you need to embrace the obstacles that you feel are a hinderance and use them as a compliment to the main subject.  In this photo the stop light helps fill the empty area but more importantly it defines the light direction and gives depth to the entire scene.
Using other photographers for inspiration and there work as ways to help with your own compositions and post processing is a great way to advance your photographic knowledge.  Websites such as Flickr, 500px and 1x are awesome tools, free and definitely need to be utilized.
I am going to try to recall all the steps in post processing, one of these days I am going to have to write them down.
Shooting information:
F/11, 120 Seconds, ISO 50, 10 stop ND filter with 3 Stop ND filter, Canon 17-40L Lens, Tripod mounted with remote shutter release
>Raw image brought into Camera Raw-Slight adjustments made to taste in Fill light and Blacks, defringed edges and Chromatic aberrations removed, opened into Photoshop CS-5
>Topaz denoise used to remove noise from image
>Selections while in color: Sky, Building, Stop Light, each window, Left edge of building, right edge of building, tree branches removed from left side of building, saved image as 16bit tiff file
>Tiff file brought into Silver Efex Pro 2, Neutral, Overexposed and Underexposed copies made and saved
>Neutral image opened along with Underexposed image
>Duplicated Underexposed image and added to Neutral Image-copied neutral image (CMD J) and placed over the underexposed image
>Added Layer Mask on Neutral Image, selected sky and used black paint with Gradient tool and replaced sky
>From there I use Over and Underexposed Layers in the same manner as above to replace parts of photo to create vision
My vision:
>Enhance light direction on building from left to right-bright to dark
>Enhance light on left ear of building from top to bottom to create depth and create contrast against dark sky
>Enhance dark area on right ear of building
>Light top of right ear of building to give gradient to that area as well as contrast against the dark sky
The building needs to stand out from the dark sky but yet needs contrast to give texture and Pop
Stop Light
>Under and Over exposed layers used to create depth in the light and enhance light direction
>Curves layer used on lamps of stop light to enhance brightness
>Curves Layer used on entire lamp to enhance contrast
>Curves layer and Layer mask used to darken outside areas of sky and centralize cloud formation
>Curves layer and Layer mask used to brighten and enhance remaining clouds
(Vision side note) I wanted bright clouds where there were corresponding dark areas (Building and light post)
and dark sky where there was corresponding bright areas of building and light.  This helps create contrast and depth
As image comes together there are constant tweaks with adjustment layers of Levels and curves to create the contrast of each individual part that I selected.  These tweaks come with time and constant perusing of the image
When image contrasts and luminosity is to my vision there are a few clean up steps:
>Remove all halo’s around buildings and structures
>Look to sharpen structures only if necessary 
>Add grain to sky to remove any banding in sky from post processing
Image is constantly saved through the work process which does take hours over 3-7 days.


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