Posted on Dec.02, 2010, under HDR

(Nikon D700, 16-35mm at 22mm, ISO 200, 9 exposure HDR @ f/11)

Anyone who grew up in Saginaw or spent any time living in the area, is probably familiar with the neon bunny on top of the Michigan Bean elevator. The lighted bunny can been seen for miles due to the flat terrain and has been a Saginaw fixture since it was first illuminated in 1947. From what I’ve read, the elevator is no longer in operation and the sign went dark in 1985. Fortunately a preservationist named Thomas Mudd, with support from Altrusa International obtained funding to get the sign lit once again in 1997.

The usage of a bunny for the Michigan Bean company has an interesting history. Apparently it all started with a show by Houdini at the Jeffers-Strand Theater in Saginaw during the 1920s. Houdini asked for a volunteer for a bunny magic trick and he promised the rabbit to whomever helped him with it. It turned out that the volunteer happened to be the daughter of the founder of the Michigan Bean Company. In 1937 the Michigan Bean Company was searching for a new corporate symbol and they were reminded of Houdini’s Bunny magic show and decided a dynamic jumping jack rabbit would be the logo for their company. My memory of the sign is that the bunny had 3 different positions which were lit in sequence to given the bunny the appearance of jumping. The current version of the sign just has a bunny in a static position. Either way it’s nice to see that the bunny sign has been preserved and still lights the night sky. More information on the history of the bunny and it’s restoration can be found here

The image was created from 9 exposures processed in Photomatix and I think it’s my favorite of the weekend shots. I completed processing with Silver Efex Pro and PhotoTools. I used Silver Efex Pro to bring out some additional texture by adding structure and using the Luminosity blend mode. In PhotoTools I used the Daily Multi Vitamin along with an antique texture. This was actually the first of my Saginaw images that I processed like this and I was pleasantly surprised with the effect that the antique texture had on the sky, it gave it some nice additional texture and a great glow.


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

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  • This looks incredible James. The texture and tones are spot on. Might I add the composition rocks as well.
    • James Howe says:
      Thanks for the comment! I have a similar shot from a slightly different angle (across the street to the left) but I liked this closer shot better. When I was processing I was experimenting with different selections from PhotoTools. I picked the ‘antique’ overlay (don’t remember the exact name) and it just made the sky go electric. Very happy with how this came out.
  • Jim Denham says:
    Amazing work here! Love the perspective and the processing! Great!
  • I’ve said this before, but I love what this processing does to some initially uninteresting skies.
  • Jonas Ginter says:
    Wow. Amazing textures, very well done. Congrats!
  • Thomas B. Mudd says:
    Great photo! It’s been an expensive and challenging struggle to keep the Bean Bunny alive since 1997. I’ve always accompanied the service people from Daup Sign Co. and Barrett Sign Co. as they worked on the sign, usually from two to five times each year. At first we had to climb the spiral stairs straight up the 13 stories, but for the past few years the three-person 1920s-era elevator has struggled its way up to the top, helping the occupants get quick religion. The high winds of last November severely damaged the sign, knocking out over a dozen neon units. It’s not one right now, but I’m hoping that something can be done to get the bunny jumping once again, as it has for most years since 1948. Originally, back during WW I, the B-E-A-N-S originated at the current height of 12 feet. Above, as a patriotic gesture, was a flag that waved with incandescent light bulbs in red, white and blue. That sign lasted until 1937. Here’s hoping,,,
  • James, the slideshow that farlane ran on ‘Michigan in Pictures’ about your Bean elevator images was awesome. Your work reminds me of a few of my galleries on my site. Specifically my ‘Motor City’, Suspended Amusements’, and ‘Nightscapes’ galleries. Keep it up. ~James

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