I’m pretty shy about getting my picture taken and am rarely happy with any pictures I’m in. However, inspired by other photographers, I occasionally attempt a self-portrait. Every attempt has ended up in the trash. I don’t even save the original files because they’re so bad. I’ve always got some goofy look, fake smile, or crinkled forehead (those who know me are saying “That’s how you really always look!”).
I did save this self-portrait though. It was taken in the “bean” as the Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park is affectionately known. I tried it just for fun and it *is* fun IMO to look at yourself all distorted, etc. One doesn’t expect to look good in a photo like this. That’s reason #1 why I kept this one. Reason #2 is that little girl with the camera in the background. Cute.
My kids love the bean. When we returned home my wife asked the kids how they liked their trip. For the 3-year old it wasn’t the walk through the city, or the overnight stay in a nice downtown hotel. His response? “I touched the bean!”.
The processing was relatively straight forward. Slight tweaks to basic exposure and clarity in Lightroom then off to Photoshop. My first thought was to go really edgy with it using Topaz Adjust but once I got in there I found that it also brought out too much of the dirt and fingerprints on the bean. What I settled on was the original exposure from Lightroom with a Topaz Adjusted version of myself masked in at 50% (ish) opacity. A small curves adjustment finished it off.
More bean photos to follow at some future date.
Most of my family still lives in the Chicago area so we make a yearly trek to IL. As part of this year’s trip I took some of my family on an overnight visit to downtown Chicago. Life has kept me from being able to spend much time on photography but I had hopes of doing some “serious” photography in the city this year. I figured that being on vacation would allow some time for pics but the highest priority was spending time with the kids and that’s what I mostly did. I did manage some shots but really couldn’t spend time composing or trying different vantage points.
That said, I snuck out of the hotel room at sunrise and headed toward Michigan Avenue. I caught a glimpse of the orange light of the early morning sun on the Trump Tower from a block away so I picked up the pace and walked to the Chicago River a block east of Michigan Ave. In order to get the composition I wanted I had to set up the camera on one of the pillars of the stone wall above the river. I was a bit nervous about that but just moved with caution to avoid knocking everything over the wall.
There are several things I like about this shot. The orange glow of the Trump Tower was just right. I liked how the wide-angle lens makes the buildings on either side of the river lean as if they’re getting ready for a cross-river showdown. Finally, I’m partial to Chicago and therefore just think any downtown shot in the city looks cool. I hope you like it too.
As for processing, this shot started life as a 4-exposure HDR (-4, -2, 0, +2). Three exposures were nearly sufficient but I needed the -4 exposure to tame the reflective highlights at the bottom of the Trump Tower. I brought the tonemapped image into Photoshop with the four original exposures and masked pieces of each into the image. I use Noiseware to clean up the sky. Finally, some sharpening and curves adjustments and I was pretty much done. I had intended to play around with Topaz Adjust to see what I came up with but I never got around to that…maybe I’ll have some fun with that in the future.
Here’s a daytime shot of the Trump Tower. As you can see, there’s no orange in that building at all — the morning sun was simply *that* orange.