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Shadow Lines – Continuing the Self-Critique

So here it is – the wall I promised two days ago. To reiterate, I wasn’t promising the world’s best picture of a wall, but one that made better use of shooting the wall from an angle, and on that count, I think this delivers.

First, as a practical matter, I could not hace shot this wall straight on and gotten more than a small section of it in the frame, and in doing so I would have lost, I believe, the full effect of the elevated train shadows on the wall.  I simply could not have backed up far enough in an effective way. To get the whole wall, I would have had to back into the street. Besides being impractical and dangerous, that would have put a row of parked cars in between me and the wall. This contrasts to the wall shot from two days ago linked above in which I focused on a rather short section of the wall.

Of course, necessity alone does not make it the right choice. Here, I thought the angle of the shadows was enhanced by the counter-angle of the shot. The framing of the shot leads your eye from right to left, while all the shadows point from left to right. Further, there’s an end point. Unlike the prior wall shot, the far edge does not just end with more wall extending beyond the frame. The doorway and the hint of the building across the street are not the most interesting end points, but they do give your eye somewhere to focus on after you have swept them from right to left. The other image lacked such a feature.

As for the other elements in the image, I had trouble processing this one. I considered going black and white, but it was both too easy and too hard. Too easy, because with those shadows almost any black and white treatment will look pretty good, and too hard because I wanted better than pretty good and getting it turned out to be surprisingly difficult. I came pretty close, but also wanted to try some color options. That also turned out to be surprisingly complicated because these bricks have some subtle colors in them that easily become grotesquely enhanced with almost any post-processing trick. So I ended up doing very little. I boosted the contrast to enhance the shadows, added a little color tweaking, and decreased the saturation just a bit.

As a result, I was able to do almost all of the processing in Aperture without going in to Photoshop. The only thing that forced me into Photoshop was the sky. As with many HDR shots, it came out weird, and I needed layers to mask it in. Which leads to a product plug, but one that really excites me, if it lives up to its promise.

OnOne just announced the Public Preview of its new product Perfect Layers. The press release states that “onOne Software, Inc., a leading developer of innovative, timesaving solutions for professional and advanced amateur photographers, today introduced the Perfect Layers Public Preview. Perfect Layers gives photographers the ability to easily create and work with layered files in their workflow application of choice. Perfect Layers supports the creation of layered files that can be opened and edited by Adobe Photoshop software and can be used directly from within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software, Adobe Bridge and, with the shipping version, Apple Aperture.”

They have released a FREE public preview, but as it does not work in Aperture, I will have to wait for the final version to give it a try. But if you use Lightroom or Adobe Bridge I would definitely suggest trying it out. The Preview is free, so there’s no downside that I can see. Click on the pretty box for more information.


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  • Jason HinesApril 22, 2011 - 10:26 am

    Nice one Mark, it lived up to the hype :). I love the shadows in this shot, it really makes the image.ReplyCancel

  • Jim NixApril 22, 2011 - 10:51 am

    Yes this wall rocks! I do love the contrasting lines, leading this way and that, and obviously I haven’t seen the BW version but color feels like the right choice based on how awesome this shot looks. Well done. JimReplyCancel

  • Mike CriswellApril 22, 2011 - 11:01 am

    I agree with Jim, I like the lines and shadows, nice workReplyCancel

  • Kristi HinesApril 22, 2011 - 11:03 am

    I need to get Photoshop for my skies eventually. Great processing job!ReplyCancel

  • Chris KenisonApril 22, 2011 - 12:34 pm

    Well done, Mark!ReplyCancel

  • Jim DenhamApril 22, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    I like the shadows and contrasting lines Mark, also glad you kept it color. Makes it a bit warmer? Nice job!ReplyCancel

  • Ryan SextonApril 23, 2011 - 3:20 am

    The shadows and lines are great in this. It was worth the wait, great job Mark!ReplyCancel

  • Liewilyn BaynosaApril 23, 2011 - 11:33 am

    very great… this is a real piece a work of art…ReplyCancel

  • […] from an angle when a straight approach would be better. I also showed off a different shot from a side angle that I did like, and then several shots between that last image and […]ReplyCancel

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