Archive for the ‘Atlanta’ Category

Good Old Days

Although I may still not have a completely functional computer again, that won’t stop me from posting HDRs. I was looking back through my photos and I realized I had posted far too few from the day Tucker and I shot at Krog street. One of my favorite things about that area was the many unique objects decorating the alcoves and openings around the long, open hallways that spanned the complex. Most of them had me wondering what their original purpose could have ever been, but I suppose I’ll never know. However, I didn’t complain, since they were fun subjects. That day produced many awesome pictures, and so while I wait to be able to process more from my time with Andrew and any left over from Italy, here’s a one that I’m glad I didn’t forget about.

I feel like the reflective surface lets me take two pictures at once: one of the ball, and one of the scene (and even me!)

Cityline Reflection in Centennial Olympic Park

This is another handheld from a few weeks ago when Giacomo and I wandered around downtown ended up in Centennial Olympic Park, which is essentially in the heart of Atlanta. I liked the way the Westin Hotel, one of the iconic buildings in the Atlanta skyline, is reflected in the pool of water. People have commented on this shot, telling me that it looks more surreal and processed than normal; perhaps it is because of the different vantage point on the skyline, or the reflection in the water, but I think most likely what people are reacting to is how blue it came out. This is mostly because of the time of day that we were there, right after sunset when there is no longer the warm sunlight , and that particular day was relatively cloud-free, so the remaining light was quite cool, and the blue of the water, the glass on the Westin building, and the sky all come together to be quite strong in the image. I considered reprocessing it to be more warm but honestly, I like the occasional image that screams, “ok, that is clearly not straight photography.”

I love the transition from blue to yellow on the glass on the Westin building, reflecting the sunset behind me.

Zooming In on the Cityline

I have been asked to do a few websites recently, and I had a shoot with one of these people tonight to get some portraits and usable banner shots, etc, for their site. He lives on top of one of the condos on 10th street and asked if I thought the roof would be a good place to get some shots. Roofs + night + cityline + a lucky awesome sunset = yes, I told him that would work well. After getting some shots with him (I ditched the flash/reflector setup in favor of the tripod/bracketing approach 😀 ) I stayed up there for an extra 2 hours just taking HDRs of various angles of the cityline as the sun set, changing lenses every once in a while. I have been really exploring HDR with the 70-200mm, and this is one of those. It is admittedly at 70mm; the ones taken at 200mm weren’t as compelling but I do have some 200mm ones from Paul’s apartment the other night that will make it up here at some point. There were also some fun wide shots from tonight as well, but this one stuck out as the one that needed to be processed immidiately.

It's really fun to go in close on the windows and see the same cabinents, light, and pictures in room after room...

A New Vantage Point

When Giacomo and I set out to shoot some HDRs tonight, we quickly realized the location I had in mind was not going to work. I remembered it being a lot cooler a few years ago, but the area around Arizona field by Dekalb avenue is now relatively built up and modern. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it was all rather bland, fenced in, and boring. Still wanting to get some shooting in, we drove for a bit until I remembered my goal of getting on top of the bridge that goes across Ponce de Leon, the bridge that we must have driven under thousands of times. Now that it is part of the Beltline, I knew it was possible, but wasn’t sure if there was easy access. Turns out, all we had to do was park close by, walk down an alleyway, and we were behind Paris on Ponce and the other shops there with easy access to the bridge and the Beltline in general. The huge brick building is the now-defunct City Hall East, where some government stuff used to take place. It is ugly, and it is large, so it is in the picture, but it is also part of the landscape that defines this area. I do like how there are lights on in some of the windows, despite it being technically closed. As we are still in the middle of a string of storms, we also had a great sky… the part the picture does NOT convey is the nearly unbearable humidity. It was probably upper 80’s, which by Atlanta standards is rather cool, but we were literally soaking because of the awful air. Tolerating it for a few minutes, I was able to grab some brackets while Giacomo messed around with the 70-200 looking professional as always. For those of you from Atlanta who haven’t been up to this location, it’s worth a visit; it’s really cool to look down on an area that has been a part of my life in this city for as long as I can remember.

All in all, a really cool location to watch both the traffic and the oncoming storm.

Stormy Summer Night

It had been threatening to thunderstorm for the past few days and it finally let loose today, with really cool lightning, clouds, and rain form the late afternoon on into the night. After spending far too little time at the Dalí exhibit at the High Museum (I will be back…) and a great dinner at Tierra on Piedmont, I headed over to Paul’s condo with my gear and braved the rain and humidity to get some pretty cool stuff. Yet another test of the weather sealing on the 5D Mark II, again passed with flying colors although the camera was literally dripping when I was done. Incidentally, the header image from the site is a crop from an HDR I took from this exact location, (looking out at the skyline, of course) a few months ago and during the day. I will (I promise) edit it, post it, and change the header soon… Anyway, the coolest shots from tonight were the ones that I did with the 70-200mm of the clouds passing in front of the many scyscrapers; they were also the first HDRs I’d attempted with that lens which was an experience, to say the least. I will edit those soon, but for now I have a wide one, taken with the trusty 16-35mm f/2.8 with distortion to prove it. When I first got up on the roof, I immediately began shooting out towards the skyline, but I noticed the lights from the pool out of the corner of my eye and decided I needed to get a closer look…

I love the way the HDR works together with the long exposures, bringing together the purple and red in the skies and detail in the shadows that were literally impossible to see with the naked eye.

Going Downtown

Giacomo and I were bored and in I was in desperate need of new material (Giacomo’s computer has been out of commission for a few weeks now and I’m assuming once he gets it working he’s still got a ton from Yosemite and Italy to process and post) so we decided to drive into the heart of downtown Atlanta, to Centennial Olympic Park. The area itself dates back to the 1996 Olympics here, and I hadn’t been there since the games when I was 6 years old… I’m fairly positive of this, because it seemed entirely transformed to me. It’s not the World of Color show, but it’s still pretty cool. The park contains a lot of grass for running, picnics, and events, as well as monuments, and other fountains, but the main attraction is the olympic ring fountain, that well-known logo with five interlocked circles. Each circle is made up of small fountains that create different synchronized patterns, and as the sun goes down they begin to light up different colors. All in all it makes for a nice place to sit and actually enjoy being in the middle of the city, something that is hard to do in Atlanta, especially during the summer. The sky wasn’t awesome, but the fountain is the main attraction anyway 🙂

The fountain in Centennial Olympic Park begins to light up as the natural light fades away.

Change Over Time

For most of the year, Atlanta is a great, modern, lively, constantly changing, and thus photogenic city. Atlanta during the summer is literally the worst place imaginable for photography. Even if you manage to think of a place that would look really cool with a haze of smog and humidity over it, the second you walk outside to go there you will be knocked back into your house by a wall of heat so intense that you have no choice but to stay inside and watch the condensation collect on your windows. As such, there will probably not be much new material coming from me until it cools off somewhat; Giacomo and I are both back in town but whenever HDR comes up in conversation, we always just look at each other and realize that going out for photos when the weather’s like this is borderline masochistic. For that reason, I have taken to going back to brackets I took at the beginning of the summer, when there were these weird fluffy things called “clouds” in the sky, and said sky actually had some colors in it rather than being opaquely-brownish-haze colored. The fun thing about this is that I have a chance to reprocess the brackets that I took, and had in most cases processed immediately after shooting. In this particular case, I have 3 versions of this, one from 6/2, when I took the shot, another from 6/13, when I reprocessed it because I wanted to post it and wasn’t satisfied, and yet a third from 7/27, when I re-reprocessed it because I was in desperate need of new material. The first is almost directly from Photomatix with very little Photoshop. The second is a balance, using Photomatix to cool off the image a lot and Photoshop to lighten it up. A few months later, when I went to process the third one, some things had changed: I no longer liked the shot, and I was much more dependent on Photoshop than Photomatix for the final product. These days I’ll spend 5 minutes in Photomatix and multiple hours in Photoshop per image, and that was the case with the third and final one here. You’ll also notice the disappearing light pole on the right hand side… I got rid of it on the first attempt, left it in once I knew I wouldn’t post the second image, and got rid of it on the third because I knew it would be the final. The more I look at these, the more I’d like to do a 4th, that is a combination of ALL of them… a little colder than the third I did, with more emphasis on the clouds, while keeping the great foreground and graffiti light and saturation that I added via Photoshop to the third. Ah well.

The original HDR, coming almost straight from Photomatix. Clearly, I wasn't concerned about much else besides the clouds.

Number two, this time much colder white balance, bringing out the graffiti a tad in Photoshop, on the whole a balance between the two programs.

And round three, this time with fill light, making the graffiti really pop, much warmer white balance, and slightly less intense clouds. Much more time in Photoshop spent here.

Thunderhead over a Favorite Location

While hanging out with Giacomo yesterday (processing HDRs, of course, like the cool people we are) he pulled up this one from a long time ago and asked why I hadn’t put it up yet. Having no good reason, I decided to do just that. It’s about time for another Freedom Parkway shot anyway 😀 This one is particularly dramatic, and I am not sure I would have processed it in the same way were I to do it now, but it actually works well to convey the overwhelmingly ominous sense of an oncoming Atlanta summer thunderstorm. I do like looking back at older work (older is only 4 months at this point, but I have done so much HDR in that span of time that things really are different!) to see what has changed. My overall style and compositions have remained relatively consistent but I think I have started to go for a more “natural” look in the processed images, attempting to use the HDR technique to merely enhance reality rather than to make the scene surreal, as this one is. However, it’s always fun to do the occasional crazy one! I have also started to pay a lot more attention to my shadows and highlights, and have been using burning, dodging, and masking to selectively brighten and darken areas of the image, to make a certain part really pop, or to really darken a shadow.

On another note, we have completely figured out the reason that some images were much larger than others, causing the site to load slowly. I have gone back and fixed most of mine, but not all yet… the upside of this is that these images now link through to the full-resolution image, but only click on it if you have a decent internet connection as the full resolution files are 10-15MB each! Andrew and Giacomo will probably not take the time to make their links go to the full res shots, as it really is a time-consuming process, and they actually have lives, but the larger, 1920×1200 images that they will link to aren’t small by any means! But at the very least all of the smaller, 900×600 images that load on the main blog page will now be in the 100-300kb range, and we will start going backwards through the blog to correct this problem, making for much faster loading times for everyone.

I guess the storm isn't so much "oncoming" as it is right overhead!

Quiet, Unsaturated, and Empty

In contrast to what Andrew has recently posted, I have been doing work that lacks crowds, crazy colors, and all that is Disney… but what he’s posted is awesome! I especially like the California Adventure Main Entrance; it’s just an awesome picture that really pops in the right way and is framed perfectly. Bravo on that. I have been busy with work and life in general, so I haven’t been able to post for the past few days. Again, most of the work I have been doing is for Rick, so here is another post from that endevour… it seems likely that by the end of this you will have seen every room in Rick and Pete’s house! That is also partly because every room in the house is gorgeous, simple, welcoming, warm, well designed, and worth photographing! Rick has complimented my work, but in all honesty I just take pictures of what is already beautiful. I would love someday to be able to live in a space to which he has applied his uncanny skill and design sense. More is sure to come, as I have yet to photograph the front and back of the outside of the house. Giacomo got back today, so there is sure to be much HDR before I leave for Maine once more. Here is a shot from the downstairs bathroom in Rick’s house, and just for fun, a hand-held HDR of the current state of my room… we are putting in the trim and baseboard tomorrow, and all that will be left to do after that is paint! Hopefully that will get done when I am home from Maine, and I can move back in. I have been trying my hand at indoor HDR whenever I get a chance… it is much harder than outside because issues of color balance/white balance crop up in nearly every shot, requiring much more processing time.

On a different note, I have discovered why some of the pictures that we upload are huge, requiring much more time to load and therefore drastically increasing the time that the entire blog itself takes to load. This is mostly the fault of the WordPress uploading system itself, and one that we can now work around… I have begun to correct it in all of my images, so that the ones that appear small on the main page are very tiny in file size, and the click-through image is the full-resolution 21 megapixel file. Andrew and Giacomo still have to correct theirs, but once it is done the site should load much faster, especially for those of you on dial-up connections 😉

One side of Rick and Pete's downstairs bathroom. So much texture!

I spent about a month stripping the paint off of the 108 year old trim...........

Poolhouse at Night

Most of the HDRs I’ve been doing recently have been for Rick, and because of that I am posting mostly from the stuff that I have shot for him. This is a shot from the Tidwell’s pool and poolhouse that Rick designed, taken a few hours later than the previous one I posted. I was there for nearly 3 hours, and witnessed a storm approach, pour rain down on us (when I shot from under the porch) and then leave, bringing night skies in its wake. Rick also had many lights installed, all timed to come on at sunset, and you can see some of them in the tress in this shot. The light shining up on the smaller trees to the right are also part of his design. It’s a really cool effect to be outside as they turn on. All in all it made for some great shots. I am in the midst of editing them; I have processed the 40-odd HDRs through Photomatix but the really time-consuming part, the Photoshop editing, has yet to be done for about half of the shots.

The Tidwell's pool and poolhouse at night, all lit up and beautiful.

A Well Designed Space

I’ve been really, really busy with photography work lately, and it’s basically all between Rick and J Young! But that is good, as they involve two areas of photography I am not as familiar with, portraiture/fashion and architecture. To top it all off, both involve even more aspects I am not familiar with; shooting J Young has involved lighting heavily, causing me to learn how to use/position a reflector to bounce my flash, while balancing that with the natural light, and Rick’s stuff has involved a lot of indoor HDR, which I have very little experience doing. Both have proven a further challenge for the same reason: my gear is set up for landscape photography, as that is what I have felt most at home doing and honestly really enjoy the most. The 16-35mm is at home doing landscapes, as it is extraordinarily wide, but when things are closer to the lens, it distorts. A ton. That makes it tough to use in both areas of work, as you don’t want people to appear stretched and you don’t want crazy weird angles and distortion in architecture. I have had to use Photoshop’s Lens Correction tool a bunch for doing Rick’s work, and I have used mostly the 70-200mm for doing J Young. However, I have had to switch to the 16 for a few of the shots of J, especially the shoot today that involved J’s friend Koleone and a Maserati. They were scheduled to shoot a video that Paul and I were supposed to shoot stills during, but that didn’t end up working out that well… hopefully soon though. Anyway, the point of all this is I have realized that the ideal lens for the work I am doing would be the 24-105mm f/4L IS. That range covers EVERYTHING I need for doing J’s stuff, as I never need wider than 16 and never honestly go in all the way to 200mm on my current telephoto, and I would therefore never need to change lenses. The 24-105 also doesn’t distort at all, and also has built in Image Stabilization, making it a truly ideal all-around lens. I am most likely going to sell my 70-200mm and pick up a 24-105 fairly soon. Anyway, here are two shots, one of Rick’s kitchen, and one of his bathroom, both designed and art directed by the man himself. I’m currently editing 3 shoots of J Young, the 60-something HDRs of the Tidwell poolhouse, the HDRs of Rick’s upstairs bathroom, and the HDRs of Rick’s kitchen… I’m really not sure when it will all get done….

Rick's kitchen in all it's glory. And distortion.

And Rick's upstairs bathroom, an equally gorgeous space. The amount of textures, light, and detail really show with HDR.

Oakland Cemetery

I’ve wanted to shoot in here for a while now, ever since I drove by it once with an accident-inducing sunset behind it. Rick reminded me of the location today, as he lives nearby, and I decided it was worth a visit. Unfortunately the light wasn’t as awesome as I had seen before, but it was by no means bad either. Paul and I got there a little later than optimal, so we missed most of the good light, but I plan on returning to shoot again. Still, it’s pretty cool to have the old, Victorian cemetery bordered by the CSX train line that is a reminder of how the city gained importance.

The edge of the cemetery, where you can see both the Victorian gravestones and the modern train line.

A Poolhouse from Fairyland

Rick Jones, who has corrected me in calling him an architect, asked me to come shoot what he considers some of his best work. The, er, designer-genius-architect really did the Tidwells justice with their pool, poolhouse, and the entire addition that he dreamed up and saw through to completion. The pictures speak for themselves; the space was gorgeous to begin with, and Rick’s ideas and sensibilities really complete the space, making it one you just want to remain in forever. And we almost did, spending nearly 3 hours taking HDRs… I barely noticed the time, because the light and clouds were so great for the whole thing that I just kept shooting. 406 images and 10.6gb later, we finally left and I now have a monstrous processing job ahead of me… but it will be great, because nearly every shot is a keeper and turned out like these:

The main house and pool.

Poolhouse and Pool. Gotta love pre-storm clouds; never fail to make a great HDR!

1906-2010: Remodeling in Grant Park

I’ve been busy in Grant Park it seems. Rick Jones, my good friend and architect, and I have been shooting a lot at the park itself, which is all work that will hopefully help push the Conservancy to fund further improvements around the park. However, Rick is also working on a project in the Grant Park neighborhood, nearby the park. The house was built in 1906, and a store added on in 1925. Rick acquired the house in 1996 and has been working on remodeling and restoring the place from the ground up… literally. The original basement was used for storage, and had a ceiling that was maybe 6′ tall. Over the past few years, Rick not only designed an entirely new basement and supervised its construction, but he did so using materials that really make the space a welcoming, warm place to be. By taking the original bricks from the exterior and recycling them for use in interior spaces, such as the basement, and using hand-hewn wooden beams for supports, the atmosphere is at once fresh and new, yet evokes much of the building’s past. The ceiling was raised to 9’3 to accommodate people comfortably, and a fireplace was added which only furthers the sense of homeliness in the place. As Rick said, he envisions a pub or some other restauraunt-type setting there, but it is ultimately up to the eventual buyer/renter as to what will fill the space. It’s just a place that you want to stay in, exploring the texture of the old bricks, the beautiful wood, and the nice touches such as the keystone over the fireplace. I can’t wait to see it fully finished, with real lights and actual windows, and two matching doors flanking the fireplace. Rick has come up with plans for the entire rest of the building, which has two stories on top of the basement, and his ideas and vision are going to transform the place into a truly incredible space. I hope to go back soon and get some “in progress” HDRs of the space under construction; it looks really cool with just the frame of the house up in places, all of it in different stages of construction. This is also some of the first (successful…) work I have done with HDR indoors. It’s kinda cool! For now, here is what the contractors have dubbed “The Wine Cellar.”

Wide shot of the "Wine Cellar" with the windows covered.

Tighter shot of the basement, with windows open.

An HDR Break

I did another photo shoot with J Young earlier, which went really well (which means that there are over 100 images to edit… and those are the ones I chose after sorting through the 300 or so that I took…) and we shot almost non-stop for 3 hours. Having to wait for my flash to cycle is really getting to me; it didn’t matter before when I wasn’t doing repeated, fast flashes but for something like this I need to be popping flash on every shot, usually 1/1 power or 1/2 depending on where we are, and that eats batteries and makes it take longer to cycle as the batteries drain… towards the end I was waiting 10 seconds per flash! Not acceptable. I will need to invest in the CP-E4 portable battery pack or something similar if I am to keep doing shoots like this that are lighting-intensive. In between the mayhem, I was able to grab a few HDRs as J changed outfits. We were shooting in the old burned down cotton mill on Boulevard, which is a location I have ALWAYS wanted to shoot inside, but never could because it’s gated… but what do you know, he knows a guy in there who buzzed us in so we had free reign in the place. He also knows a few guys with exotic cars, and we have a shoot with an awesome Benz lined up soon, as well as a Lamborghini… I’ll be sure to do some HDR when this goes down so I can post it here without feeling guilty 🙂

The iconic smokestack that is part of the Atlanta skyline that I finally got to see up close... p.s. the 16-35mm distorts. A ton. It's usually awesome, I don't know about it here.