My family and I try to get to downtown Chicago every year and we almost always visit the Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) in Millennium Park. We take goofy pictures in the reflections and pictures of other people taking goofy pictures of themselves. The shot above was taken at the end of our last visit to Chicago. It was cold and rainy but we were prepared with jackets, umbrellas, and a rain cover for the camera bag. The forecast for the day was sunny and warm early, turning to cold and rainy in the afternoon and for once the weatherman was completely correct. The shots below were only taken 5-ish hours earlier in the day. I liked how the blown-out sky and top of the bean blend together in the last shot. Someday I’ll get through all the photos and post some of the goofy ones.
Another quick one in this post…still really busy. The Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago (aka “The Bean”) is just like a fun house mirror with infinite possibilities as far as my children are concerned. We took a lot of group/self portraits on our last visit to Millennium Park and I’m sure this won’t be the last one I post. I put this one through all sorts of tweaks in Lightroom in an attempt to highlight the subjects (us) and to bring out the various fingerprints, dirt, streaks, and distortion on the sculpture. I pulled the image into Photoshop and tweaked some colors here and there (to mute them a bit). I used Topaz Adjust to do some wild-ish things on a duplicate layer and blended that into most of the image at about 30% opacity. Finally I used selective (via masks) sharpening and noise reduction to touch it up.
Since our trip to Paris it seems that I’ve never been able to catch up with “things”. Photography has certainly been a temporary casualty but I’ve managed to process most of the photos from the trip. Most pics got the quick exposure/contrast treatment but I managed a few HDRs as well.
We spent our six nights in Paris but included a day trip to London during the week. I booked us in “leisure select” (effectively what we’d call business class) on the earliest Eurostar between Gare du Nord (Paris) and London St. Pancras and then the latest train back to Paris. Frankly the train rides were quite enjoyable and relaxing. The image above was taken in the St. Pancras train station and shows a statue called The Meeting Place by Paul Day. The architecture (interior and exterior) of the train station alone would have made for a decent day’s photowalk. I read somewhere (probably wikipedia) that the station underwent a $1 billion+ renovation in the last decade. There are still some construction fences around portions of the exterior — I only noticed because they ruined some photo opportunities.
The pic below was taken on the bridge at the entrance to the Tower of London. A catapult sits in the long-ago drained moat surrounding the walls. While this image doesn’t really capture the essence of the Tower itself, it certainly helps me re-live that single day we spent in London. Sunny and warm, blue sky with awesome clouds — such a rarity in London. It seemed that everyone we met made some comment to the effect of “You sure got some of our best weather for your visit”.
The Tower was amazing. The history of the place is SO interesting. The Beefeaters tour was quite entertaining as well. We spent about three hours inside and that was skimming a lot of the text on plaques and such. We’d certainly go back and spend more time if we visit London again.
The HDR above was created using three handheld exposures. Tonemapped in Photomatix with some typical contrast, sharpening, etc…no blending with original exposures.
Littlefield Fountain is a World War I memorial at the University of Texas created by Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini and financed by George Washington Littlefield. There’s some great information on the fountain here. While researching a bit of information about Coppini I ran across a quote by J. Frank Dobie who said of Coppini, “…he has littered up Texas with his monstrosities”. I find that quite funny given that Dobie’s namesake (Dobie Mall) is located practically across the street. Coppini did many works in Texas — they’re worth checking out.
For photographers in Austin playing with HDR, Littlefield Fountain seems to be one of those required shots — analogous to the required elements in figure skating or gymnastics. The State Capitol and a skyline shot along Lady Bird Lake are among the other “required elements”.
Friday evening I took my friend and daughter to the University of Texas campus for a short photowalk. We got a parking space right by the Littlefield Fountain and it became our first stop for pictures. On a personal note, as soon as we stopped in front of the fountain we were face-to-face with my sister-in-law. She’s a visiting professor in the business school for the spring semester and just happened to be headed home for the day…great to run into her like that. Seeing our cameras, she commented on how someone is *always* taking a picture of the fountain.
The water is full of algae…it’s really the green color seen in these images. I frankly don’t care to ever see green water but I’ll be nice and say that it “adds to the images”. There are many great perspectives and angles to be had around this fountain but I stuck with a couple “safe” and standard shots here.