Posted on Mar.16, 2011, under Architecture

(Olympus E-3, 7-14mm at 10mm (2x crop factor), ISO 100, Exposure 1/160 sec @f/6.3)

Most people viewing this blog probably recognize this building as the Flatiron Building in New York City. In fact, the real name of the building is the Fuller Building. The building was constructed in 1902 as the headquarters for the Fuller Company, a prominent construction company. The building has a fascinating history as detailed in the book The Flatiron by Alice Sparberg Alexiou. The book describes the interesting backstory to the construction of the building and of the development of New York City in general.

I’ve been to New York a few times, mostly on business, and I’ve always wanted to get a picture of this iconic building. I finally did get a chance to visit this part of New York and I tried to get some nice shots of the building, but when I reviewed the images later I wasn’t really thrilled with what I had captured. The weather was overcast, the lighting was drab and most of my compositions didn’t really work out as well as I thought they would when I was taking the shots. I didn’t have the opportunity to go back and take some additional shots so I decided to work with what I had. I did have one shot which I sort of liked and I’ve actually been working with it off and on since I took the picture back in October of 2009 and the finished result is what you see above.

A couple of my favorite shots of the Flatiron are by Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. Both images have a sort of hazy, foggy quality that I really like. I wasn’t trying to recreate these images, but I did use them for inspiration.

My processing involved a few steps but nothing really major. The first thing I did was to correct the perspective distortion created by my wide angle lens. I didn’t shoot exactly parallel to the building so there was some tilt. I used free transform with skew and scale to get something that I thought looked right. I then tried to pull out a bit more contrast in the image. I then used Topaz Adjust on the Clarity preset to bring out more detail. I then added some additional sky to the top of the image. A later step was going to trim some off the top and I didn’t want to clip the building. I then used Silver Efex Pro 2 to do an initial conversion. I increased the structure setting to bring out some detail in the clouds which was hidden. I took this image into Photo Tools and actually added a bit of a blue tone. I liked the bluish cast, but the image was too bright. I decided to take it back in to Silver Efex Pro 2 and perform another pass. This time I used one of the presets which darkened the image, increased the graininess and added the burned borders. I think it is a nice improvement over the original image, seen below.

(click either image to see it in lightbox mode)

Feedback and comments are always welcome. Simply leave them below.

Copyright © 2009-2011 James W. Howe – All rights reserved.

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