Thursday, March 27, 2008

Monolithic Building

Taken on the same day as the previous two photos and from nearly the same spot as the trees/river shot.
One of the abandoned buildings on the contaminated Big Tex Grain Co. site that will be turned into condos once the EPA gets done whining and fining about asbestos contamination.

The clouds that day worked really well for me in IR again.
Because of the way I shot this it fooled many people into thinking the building was orders of magnitude larger--in reality it's a corrugated sheet metal barn-like structure that's maybe 12-15 feet tall.

But that corrugation was a nightmare to deal with when re-sizing in PhotoShop.
Diagonal lines present special problems when dealing with the blocks/pixels of digital images.
In this case there was no way to re-size the photo for the web without creating moire patterns--the dark circular banding you can see on the thumbnail above that disappears when you click on it to bring up the fullsize image.
Every trick I know to get rid of it failed in PS7, so I went to my often-successful last resort: IrfanView.
This handy and free editing program has a Lanczos filter for re-sizing that handles moire-prone images very well.

From an artistic standpoint I like this photo very much although it generated less interest than I expected when posted online in a few places.
It's dark and foreboding and even a bit scary, which was my intent at the time.
Kind of a Pink Floyd/Kubrick/1984 vibe.

It was a perfect subject and background for infrared.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Worth The Effort

More from Dec. 29th of 2007

I'm going to quote the text from my original main blog entry for this photo:

Yesterday I finally got this particular View of Texas out of my head and into my camera.
I've long been an advocate of planning and doing research to get better photographs.
When combined with luck and skill, impulsiveness and attention to detail, you can truly combine the best of both worlds--right and left brain.
Yin and Yang?

For example, this old and abandoned electrical power station sits in an area I frequently visit (or at least check periodically) whenever I'm shooting downtown.
There's a lot to like about it--crusty and tall and industrial, with many different textures.
But until yesterday it has never been photographed by me, not even once as a test.
The reason for that is simple: I knew it would take some real work to get it right, and I wasn't fully prepared before now.

The side that's visible from the local streets are in complete shadow unless it's morning, and I don't exist in the morning.
The western side which gets afternoon and evening light is closely bordered by the San Antonio River, and beyond that is fencing around the old Lone Star Beer brewery with even less public access.
So there was no easy way to get a well-lit shot casually, but a few weeks ago while hunting for a specific nearby mural I spotted an access route to this angle--but I also saw that I would be close, meaning a vertical shot with no zoom and lots of sky and lens distortion.

For two weeks I kept all this on the 'to do' list in my head. (Other photos of mine have had to wait for years).
Then on Christmas Day I stepped outside and looked at the beautifully stretched and wispy high cirrus clouds we were blessed with, and made a few test shots in infrared.
The results after processing were amazing, and I was tempted to post them here had it not been for a decided lack of a subject in front of those great clouds--so a purely technical exercise entered the equation at just the right time.

On Saturday when I woke up the Xmas Clouds were my desktop wallpaper (a timely reminder) and when I looked outside they were back!
And I had the afternoon to kill on my own, with our good car.
Checking the radar and visible light satellite imaging on the internet confirmed that the conditions would hold for a few hours, so no need to hurry and screw myself out of the lower-angle sunlight which always looks better.

I packed up my gear and cruised downtown, and was quickly denied hitting the train tracks first by the traffic mess of the AlamoBowl®, and went after Plan B: the abandoned CPS power plant next to Roosevelt Park.
Parked in the nearest lot, took my monopod as a visible warning against the undesireables who were around (they don't know exactly what it is, but can sense that it can't be good) and hiked out to shoot.

Attached the needed IR filters, checked exposure, removed an ND4, checked again.
Sat my ass on the dead grass and shot a few dozen, adjusting exposure and CP filter orientation a little but mainly just enjoying the experience.
At this point I know it's going to turn out nicely, I'm just living in-the-moment and letting the clouds move across behind the scene since you never know when they might improve or detract by minor differences in placement.

It got almost Zen-like.

Then I shot some color photos just in case...
They stink compared to the infrared/black and white versions.

I spent another hour or so in various places before going home, and got some more nice views, but the whole time the power plant experience was Tingling in my head.
It's easy to recognize this feeling now because every other time I bagged a possible portfolio-worthy shot the same thing happened.
A feeling that I can't wait to see them onscreen but have to force myself to forget about it and make the best use of my time on-location in good conditions.

I sincerely hope we all Tingle a few times in 2008.

This is a different Photoshop edit from the one originally posted at Views Of Texas because I wanted this photo in my larger vertical frame for the gallery show at Blue Star earlier this month.
Besides the 5:4 crop ratio for an 8x10" print, I had also learned a few refinements to getting tones and zones the way I want them in PS7.0 between then and now, and the print came out nearly perfect.

My black and white prints using IR source material now have just as much impact as the color night photos and flash-macros I'm already known for.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Now We're Getting Somewhere

December 29, 2007--A very good day for me and IR.

This was shot across the San Antonio River just south of downtown, with tall buildings hidden by trees.
I would have liked to back up and get more reflection on the water but my back was to a fence already, around a site contaminated with asbestos.
Pointing the camera down some more wasn't an option compositionally.
Nobody has ever mentioned noticing the egret on top of the tree.

I like this one a lot, and so do other people. The rest of the day's shooting was even more successful.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Christmas Clouds

Despite the whirlwind of activity on Christmas Day I managed to set aside a few quiet moments for myself, to enjoy God's Love and His gift of a beautiful world for us to live upon.

I was drawn instantly to the clouds that day, and it's interesting to note that I didn't shoot anything of them in color--IR was the first and only method I considered.

These semi-abstract photos weren't subject-driven enough for me to consider posting them anywhere--they were more of a personal thing.
Good practice for sure, and yet with minimal time spent in Photoshop they never fail to please my eyes and give me a few moments of pleasure whenever I look at them.

Such a positive personal reaction must mean something.
Either my opinion that they weren't worthy of wider exposure was wrong, or there's an important lesson contained within.

I went with the second option and tried to learn something from them.
There's something about those clouds...