On Hugging Those Walls

By |2012-01-25T09:22:43+00:00Jan 25th, 2012|

Last year, I was hanging out at the +LensProToGo offices, chatting it up with their Social Media queen, +Megan Rodney, when she mentioned shooting around an amazing UrbEx location down in Hull, MA. The place was called Fort Revere. So, I found a free day and bee-lined it down there for a solo shoot. Long story short – the effort paid off with dividends.

Now here is the thing with Fort Revere, and most places that are as texture-rich as this one: it’s really critical that you don’t get lost in all of the detail. It’s really critical that you establish a compelling shot even amongst all of this glorious chaos. These scenes give photographers a special opportunity to tell a story – sure, it may be a slightly twisted story but it’s a story nonetheless.

Now, as far as the title of this post, I had a lot of failed attempts at getting a compelling shot. I think it mostly had to do with the vantage point that I was seeing in the frame. None of them really pulled me through the image – and that is, IMHO, one of the most important elements of a strong photo. Can you lead the viewer’s eye where you want it to go? No? Then try again.

For this shot, I had my Canon 14mm lens on and it wasn’t until I had my camera and tripod almost straddling this right wall that I saw the shot that I was meant to take. The wall itself had so many intrinsic elements that aided in creating strong leading lines through the frame. And so I fiddled around a bit and got what I wanted in the frame.

Now, because there was such a dramatic amount of dynamic range, I tone-mapped this shot and brought in all of the details that I wanted to retain using Photomatix. I also stylized the shot in +onOne Software Perfect Effects 3. I also added a tiny amount of FocalPoint to simulate a shallow depth of field (most notable by that doorway in the back of the frame). Finally, to further aid in drawing the eye through the frame, I simulated a light path by selectively dodging and burning the ground to taste.

So when you’re out and about, try abandoning the idea of shooting front and center all the time. Get your camera close to a wall and see what fun you can have with distortion.

#HDR #UrbEx

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[map w=”745″ h=”130″ lat=”42.304518″ lon=”-70.902889″ marker=”yes” z=”18″ maptype=”SATELLITE” 680 /]

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10 Comments

  1. Jose Vazquez January 25, 2012 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Very cool. Thanks for the in-depth explanation on the workflow. Great tips to keep in mind.

  2. David Wares January 25, 2012 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Cool post. You certainly nailed this shot. Getting close to a wall certainly does give that dynamic edge. Have done this myself on occasion. Nice work Brian. :-)

  3. Chris Maskell January 25, 2012 at 10:09 am - Reply

    I love this shot Brian. As you say there is a need to get a shot that pulls you in Nd the leading lines provided by that curved wall just sucks you straight in.

  4. ChrisD Maskell January 25, 2012 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Great image Brian. As you say there needs to be an element that sucks you in, that curving wall does just that.

  5. Aaron Hockley January 25, 2012 at 11:28 am - Reply

    Love it. The location reminds me a bit of some of the old military batteries that are part of Fort Stevens State Park a couple hours west of PDX. I was there a couple years ago as I was just starting to do HDR photography: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahockley/4737034332/

    Might be a place you'd enjoy exploring although it's not in quite as much of a state of decay as most abandoned places… darn those state parks :)

  6. Daniel Lizzama January 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    It is an extremly professional. Well done

  7. Steve Kalman January 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    I had a similar experience at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall. Took several hundred shots over 2-3 hours one fall afternoon and came away with nothing I'd ever show anyone. However, a few of them gave me some ideas for the next trip. Eventually, I'll get something worth printing, and it will be all the more valuable for the time, thought and effort.

  8. Allen Steen January 25, 2012 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    Like the colour and detail in this image. Very nice.

  9. Edith Levy January 26, 2012 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Wow what an awesome shot. I love this POV.

  10. Hali January 31, 2012 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Sweet shot and thank you for the guidance and info on your thoughts and workflow. If you ever make it down to RI (not so far from you) check out Fort Wetheril in Jamestown, very similar environment

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