Posted on Sep.23, 2010, under Architecture

Michigan Central Depot

(Nikon D700, 50mm, ISO 200, Exposure 1/30 sec @ f/8.0)

I was looking through my Lightroom catalog trying to find images which might be fun to play with using the Silver Efex Pro plugin I just purchased. As I scanned across the folders, I found a series of images that I had taken at the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit, Michigan. The building is famous for both its beauty and sorry condition. It has been threatened with demolition, and yet it still stands. Several movies have been shot here and it is a popular place for urbex photographers to visit.

The image I selected was not one of the best shots of the day. In fact, it was in a collection of images that I had marked as rejected. The composition wasn’t great and the picture was way overexposed. I think I had been playing around with shooting HDR brackets and I had forgotten to reset it. I just just recently purchased my Nikon D700 and was still learning how to use it. Sometimes an overexposed image can be pretty cool (witness some of the high key images done by David Nightingale of Chromasia fame, but I didn’t think this was one of those images. Anyway, just for kicks I decided to see what the image would look like if I fixed the exposure. From previous experience with my D700 images, I knew that even though the Lightroom histogram might be showing things shoved way over to the right (and beyond), it was possible to recover much of the image by simply reducing the exposure. To get the exposure more in the right range, I reduced the exposure 1.8 stops.

In the process of working on the image I had zoomed in. As I moved the Lightroom loupe around I encountered a crop that I really liked. I played with the crop a bit and took the cropped image into Photoshop. Once in Photoshop, I did some perspective correction to straighten the lines up a bit. I then opened Silver Efex Pro and did the black and white conversion. One of the adjustments I really liked in the tool is something called ‘structure’. Basically it seems to add additional detail to an image. I then selected a low grain film and reduced the grain even further. Finally I selected a light sepia tone for the entire image. When you compare it to the original image, I think it is quite an improvement. I’m hoping the Michigan Central Depot can make an equally or even more impressive recovery.

Michigan Central Depot - as shot


Copyright © 2010 James W. Howe – All rights reserved.

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