On The Lambda

By |2012-08-19T10:12:09+00:00Aug 19th, 2012|

I was pretty freaking stoked to see the Lambda symbol tagged on this gigantic concrete slab. Partly because it’s a key symbol from my favorite video game franchise of all time – Half Life – but mostly because this concrete slab stood within an even more gigantic nuclear cooling chamber. This is the scene that +Brian Bonham shot in and around all day yesterday. It was one of the more fun shoots that I’ve been on in recent memory.

I ended up using my Canon 15mm Fisheye lens for about 60% of the day (the 17mm T/S lens took the remaining 40%). Because this cooling chamber was so freaking massive, I needed glass that would give me flexibility in fitting all of this goodness into the frame. The radial distortion was simply icing on the cake, as all of the images here began taking on warped, sci-fi looks.

I have plenty more images to share from this great location – stay tuned!

Google Maps Location Info
46.95930, -123.47504

In terms of processing
This is a seven exposure tone-mapped #HDR  image using Photomatix Pro. Tone-mapping was critical here as there was very dim light inside the cooling chamber compared to the brighter light outside.

Next, I masked out the flat grey sky visible through the top of the chamber and dropped in a stock sky layer found in the Backgrounds Library of Perfect Photo Suite 6.1 by +onOne Software. Then, I applied a radial blur to that sky layer in Photoshop CS6 to convey a sense of movement.

Stylization was achieved by masking Fashion Passion onto the concrete slab, Cyberpunk onto the cooling chamber, and Thermopylae onto the visible portion of dirt on the ground.

Final touches were applied in Lightroom 4.1.

In album UrbEx and RuralEx (1 photo)

Google+: View post on Google+


  1. Liniyah Tolliv August 19, 2012 at 10:10 am - Reply


  2. Mark Esguerra August 19, 2012 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Damn this is awesome! Great choice to use the fisheye! And an extra +1 for Half-Life! ;-)

  3. Anna Ryndak August 19, 2012 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Wow!!!! Amazing shot! I love soft colors

  4. Renee Vilneff August 19, 2012 at 10:11 am - Reply


  5. yanibel paulino August 19, 2012 at 10:16 am - Reply

    that place looks like the Batman movie! 'o.o

  6. kimberly pemberton August 19, 2012 at 10:19 am - Reply

    it feels like i am inside a really cool virtual video game!  
    either that or i just took a really good hit of acid.

  7. jamstek yang August 19, 2012 at 10:25 am - Reply


  8. Doug Griffin August 19, 2012 at 10:27 am - Reply

    That is freaking cool.  I agree with +yanibel paulino , it looks like it should be in one of those new dark superhero movies, or part of a graphic novel.  Love the blue and green.

  9. Joe Kates August 19, 2012 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Photoshop Peace.

  10. Jonathon Pruessner August 19, 2012 at 10:28 am - Reply

    It will be good to have you and +Brian Bonham around after dark when we are in Portland, seeing as how you both will be glowing!  Haha!!  Cool photos!

  11. Lars Gustafson August 19, 2012 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Awesome shot! I'm a little surprised one of you didn't get strapped into a chair in the middle of the cooling tower and left there à la the end of Terry Gilliam's Brazil though…

  12. Chris Chabot August 19, 2012 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Oh boy oh boy oh boy that's an adventurous look, really makes me want to go read some cyberpunk or play some halflife!

  13. Chris Chabot August 19, 2012 at 10:32 am - Reply

    +Joe Kates really calling 'photoshop' here is a bit odd since he tells you what software he's used to do what in the post – and none of them was photoshop :)

  14. Damien Jemison August 19, 2012 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Whoa. I was just recently on the east coast and drove right through the Buffalo area. I wanted to go find some rust to shoot, but we didn't have any time to explore. I'd love to shoot a locale like this. Show us more, Brian!!

  15. Matt Gordon August 19, 2012 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Wow, this is a really neat shot!  And I agree, major bonus points for the Lambda symbol.  +Brian Matiash I wonder if you would be able to share a little information on how you were able to go to a location like this?  

    Is it long abandoned?  Did you need special permission?  Was radiation a concern?  Thanks so much! 

  16. feka red August 19, 2012 at 11:13 am - Reply


  17. Gilmar Smith August 19, 2012 at 11:14 am - Reply

    I'm so dying to be the chaperon in one of you bromantic weekend so I can shoot those cool places with you. pouts

  18. David Ross August 19, 2012 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Very striking  image I love the graphic stylisation, The 7 exposures & tone mapping is very effective. I really like this image and style and the wide angle provides such impact. Simply amazing. Lookforward to some of the images to follow

  19. J. Rae Chipera August 19, 2012 at 11:31 am - Reply

    DOOD! This is awesome.

  20. Kevin Murphy August 19, 2012 at 11:33 am - Reply

    What a great picture.

  21. Shelly Gunderson August 19, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

    Pretty cool!  Neat shot!

  22. Tim Graedon August 19, 2012 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Awesome perspective, I love this!

  23. Mikael Erminger August 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    +Brian Matiash Love it! I, too, thought Half-Life was soo ground-breaking

  24. Nicole S. Young August 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    I love this! Can't wait to go there with you in October :)

  25. Boris Manic August 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm - Reply


  26. Jacob Lucas August 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm - Reply


  27. Alberto Delunes Aviernes August 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Me encanta, great picture

  28. Demeter Ágnes August 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm - Reply


  29. Derek Kind August 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Dude… just…dude.

    That's all that comes to mind when I see this. When I saw the photos from yesterday, they were really cool, but I wasn't prepared to have my mind melted like this…


  30. Jacob Lucas August 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Haha… my thoughts exactly, +Derek Kind ;)

  31. Derek Kind August 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Yeah, I saw that, +Jacob Lucas, and you weren't the first to say dude either. It's just that kind of photo. :p

  32. Craig Lewis August 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    I was expecting a huge tapping tentacle to creep into the shot for a moment :) Great stuff!

  33. Sathish Jothikumar August 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    That is so cool!

  34. Bob Lussier August 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Such a cool shot!

  35. Josette Calva August 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    I was so amaze!

  36. Brian Bonham August 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Really excellent processing, but you know that already ;)

  37. Cameron Siguenza August 19, 2012 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Just an awesome shot – combined with perfect processing. Brings back happy memories of Half Life :) Although the face crabs always freaked me out.

  38. Greg Scratchley August 20, 2012 at 8:16 am - Reply

    Amazing shot – and WOW what an amazing location.  Love the HL Reference too :)

  39. ron anicker August 20, 2012 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Great shot. I was there but did not get this kind of distortion (17 is the widest I got so far.) Wow. It was a fantastic location and a wonderful day.

  40. Larry Nienkark August 20, 2012 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Damn you +Brian Matiash for the half life symbol, haven't played in almost 2 yrs (that's a record). Reinstall tonite.
    BTW awesome pic.

  41. Greg Scratchley August 20, 2012 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Brian – just pure awesome… Processing was spot on, post work looks amazing, just plain cool.  Great stuff.

  42. Greg Scratchley August 20, 2012 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Also – curious about the location.  I'm a few thousand miles away, but curious about access.  Up here, we can't get within a mile of a coal plant that's already been torn to the ground.  Is this thing actually accessible or are you escorted?

  43. Brian Matiash August 20, 2012 at 10:26 am - Reply

    +Larry Nienkark If only they'd get around to releasing Episode 3, I could die happy.

  44. Michael Riffle August 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Absolutely blown away by this. What an amazing location, thanks for sharing it.

  45. Paul Balchin August 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    +1 for the photo, and if I could, +1 for Half Life!

  46. Larry Nienkark August 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    I agree +Brian Matiash, maybe when their done with the portal series, we'll have episode 3 (fingers crossed).

  47. Gray Kinney August 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Nice shot!

  48. washington mukuna August 21, 2012 at 12:58 am - Reply

    so good

  49. Chris Smith August 21, 2012 at 9:22 am - Reply

    Totally freakin cool!

  50. philippe MANGUIN August 21, 2012 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Well done :-)

  51. Dave Morrow August 21, 2012 at 9:43 am - Reply

    this is by far my fav shot of yours EVER. amazing work man. Bravo

  52. André Roßbach August 21, 2012 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Congrats +Brian Matiash

  53. Laurent Coppée August 21, 2012 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Excellent ! Love the colors, distortion and processing here, makes me feel dizzy 

  54. Toby Harriman August 21, 2012 at 10:22 am - Reply

    So freaking sweet +Brian Matiash.  

  55. Philip Johnson August 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    congrats on your feature Brian

  56. Mimi Round August 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm - Reply


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