This is a west end evening in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago. The lights in the sky are fading and the lights of the city are beginning to glow. This is a popular spot because hundreds of people walk along the shore here in the evening, perhaps ending up on Denman Street for Sushi. I’m standing on a pile of rocks, and about 30 seconds after I shot this I managed to slip and fall. Camera was fine, ego not so much.
Sometimes I get questions regarding how I processed an image to today I thought I’d relate some of the steps.
I used a wide angle zoom lens for this at about 14mm, that gives the sky and water that zoomy effect, basically it causes everything to converge on the middle. I love the effect for landscapes, especially when the main subject is at the center of convergence as the city is here.
I combined three images into AuroraHDR Pro to get an overall dramatic effect to the image. I then applied a texture in the sky and did some final tone mapping in Lightroom, warming it up a tad.
The thing is I never do the same thing twice, every image is unique and the effect is non-repeatable even by me. That’s because there are a hundred other little things that I did that I could never hope to remember, it’s like painting with a brush, on one level it’s completely freeform and one of a kind.
So there you have it. Click, slip, fall and process. That’s my process from start to finish.
Earlier this month I captured this before sunrise in Ft. Lauderdale, which is on Florida’s Atlantic coast. I was hoping to catch the colors at dawn but there was too much of a marine layer and it wasn’t to be. Nonetheless the city lights cast a glow on the low clouds in this long exposure. I kept the shutter open for about eight-seconds which makes the ocean appear smooth.
This was taken from in front of the Marriott hotel where I stayed. I had never been there before and had to follow the GPS to find it the night before. I didn’t really know where I was or which way it was to the city. My room was set back from the beach so I could only see the beach, not up and down the coast. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when I walked down here early in the morning to find that the main city was just a short walk north. I’m glad I woke up or I would have missed this scene, it’s not easy to take a picture of a deserted beach in Ft Lauderdale.
I walked up and down the beach taking all kinds of pictures, several I’ve recently published on the blog. It was a fun experience in the predawn hours with just my camera. Due to the soft sand it took a lot of effort to walk, but that’s how a beach is, sandy. When I walk on the beach I normally just pick a direction and start a slow plod, stopping to take pictures, slowly making my way until its time to turn around. And so that pretty much sums up this morning, a slow Sunday plod.
I took this at a Skytrain station in Vancouver. It’s called the Skytrain because most of it is above ground. I’m not from around here so I still call it a subway, but when I do I get glances. The kind of glance that says you’re not from around here are you? Maybe one day I’ll get it right, but its kind of low on the priority list.
That aside it’s the best run transit system I’ve seen outside of Disney World. There are no drivers and everything is automated, a little like Tomorrowland. However as a programmer it gives me just a slight amount of concern, like that glance I get when I say the word subway. It’s subtle but there is a difference. I know what happens when there’s a bug in the code and if my program controls a train, well that opens up all kinds of scenarios. Even so I ignore the thought because the train seems to have been running very well for years, so perhaps the code is bug free. I wipe the consideration from my mind, just as quickly as it enters. I’m getting a little off track.
Skytrain just added something new called a Compass pass. Long story short it’s a convenient way to buy a fare, transfer to a bus or ferry and possibly save money at the same time. Without going into all the details it seems to work pretty well, just as well as the trains run without drivers. Did I mention that? One thing seems certain to me; someone is writing a lot of good code and as a result the whole system seems to run quite well. Now if I could just reprogram my brain to not call it a subway.
Saturday was an urbex rain day. Meaning that it was raining and I did a little urban exploration. I would say that pretty much every day is a rain day in Vancouver, but it’s that’s just how it is. For me it’s a perfect excuse to get out and shoot rainy scenes, totally awesome.
I live on the East Coast and I try to stay in that time zone when I travel west. The advantage is I wake up super early and that helps me get a good start on the day. When I come to Vancouver that means photography in the morning. So by the time the sun rises, which by the way it never does, I’ve already been out for a couple of hours. Bonus. The downside of course is I turn into a pumpkin at about seven in the evening. So as long as I do fun stuff in the morning or day, I’m good.
In this case the morning was rainy and as I said, totally awesome. Something about people with umbrellas makes for an interesting picture. I don’t really know what it is but I find it cool. We have umbrellas where I live, but people don’t walk where I live. They walk from the parking lot to the store, that’s most of it. So there are no busy streets with people dressed up carrying umbrellas. So anyway, I got a tonne of umbrella shots, maybe too many but I’ll worry about that later. For now, this is the first of my urbex umbrella shots.
We took the coastal route down the southern end of France. It winded in and out of small fishing villages and switch backed over peaks until we entered Spain. I could easily take a week to explore this region but on this day we were driving to Barcelona. Nonetheless I stopped here just outside of Cerbère which is the last village before entering Spain. Just off camera on the left is a parking space and vista along the side of the road where RVs stop for the night. Not a bad place to stay for the night.
The streets of some cities are deserted in the evening as most people have left for the suburbs. That leaves plenty of opportunity for taking pictures of the architecture and lights which create a mood found only after the sun sets. This is a pedestrian bridge in Hartford Connecticut. I combined two images, one sharp one blurred, to enhance the seasonal lights of that chilly December evening. As I write this its summer and would gladly take a quick blast of cool are from the night I took this.