Walking around Los Angeles in the early morning for me is a lot of fun.  Looking at all the interesting architecture and trying to figure out how to emphasis the structures finer points.  Each building has it’s own unique signature and angle you want to capture.  After pacing in front of the building multiple times you find the view you are ready to capture. I wish it was always as simple as a few clicks of the shutter and you are done. But there is usually a few obstacles you might need to overcome, such as: streets, getting hit by a bus, pedestrians, security guards and of course my all time favorite trees. Yes trees are my all time worst enemy for a nice clean architecture shot.  I know you may think that the city puts up trees for beauty but I think they put them there just so photographers will get discouraged and go away.

This building was one in particular I wanted to get an upward view of.  Getting a goood comp from bottom to top was virtually impossible from the front of the building with obstructions of trees, ledges and marquees.  And a good angle to avoid these things meant I had to shoot from in the street and shoot the building above the trees which cut down the long look of the building I was looking for.  I looked and paced and didn’t see anything, but as I continued to walk around the block my friend I went with wanted to take a photo down a back alley.  As we walked around the alley it came to my attention that this alley was the back of the building I wanted to take an upward picture of, no trees, no unwanted reflections, ledges or marquees, little to no drive through traffic and no buses to be squashed by.  I thought to myself “Where have I been, not looking towards alley’s for better compositions without obstruction?”  Someone should have smacked me upside the head for such an easy solution.  So instead of dwelling on my moments of stupidity I decided to consider this a learning moment for future use.

Moral of this story:  Look around the entire building, use ally’s and carports, driveways, parking structures.  Don’t settle for the obstruction in your shot or shooting around it and getting just a piece of the comp you want.  Find the area that works for you even if it means walking down an alley or 2.


The shot:

F/8, 1/15 of a second, ISO 200, Canon 24-105L @ 24mm.  Tripod, wireless shutter release

Post Processing:

  • Image shot in Raw brought into CSR and opened in Photoshop CS-5
  • Building selection made and sky replaced
  • Topaz Denoise for noise reduction
  • Image brought into Silver Efex Pro 2.0 for B&W Conversion
  • Selections made and saved-Building, Sky, Bottom of building, Windows, Left side, Right side
  • Building Selected and processed for Gradients
  • Sky Selected and processed for effect with Curves and masks
  • Bottom Selected and processed for effect and gradients with curves and mask
  • Windows Selected and processed for brightness with curves
  • Brought back into Silver Efex Pro and checked for all zones represented
  • High Pass sharpening on building only
  • 1:1 cropping


Click on image to see larger: Back-Alley-Shadows-BDA



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