Posted on Sep.19, 2012, under Chicago

(Nikon D800, 28-300mm at 70mm, Exposure 1/200th sec @ f/9, ISO 250)

This summer I participated in the Google+ 1 year anniversary photo walk in Chicago, Illinois. I hadn’t been to Chicago in quite a while and it was a good chance to see the city and meet some talented Chicago area photographers. At the end of the day, while walking back to my car, I spotted this shot of Miller’s Pub on Wabash St. I liked the way the sun was shining on the taller buildings in the background combined with the ground level details such as the fire escapes and the supports for the ‘L’ train. I fired off a few shots along Wabash St. and this was my favorite.

Of course, it took a little bit of work to get the final shot you see above. If you look at the raw shot below, you will notice that the image isn’t that attractive. The light on the buildings that I found attractive was all blown out, and the street area was too dark. However, I shot this with a Nikon D800 which has incredible dynamic range. It didn’t take much work in Lightroom to bring the sky back down and to bring a little more light to the darker parts. After getting the basic balance right, I worked on a bit of stylizing. I discovered with some shots that I took in New York with the D800 that you can get a really nice look in these high resolution images by bumping the clarity slider in Lightroom quite high. Lightroom 4 has a much improved algorithm for the clarity slider for any image, but it really shines when you use a high resolution file. I like the hyper-realistic look it gives to certain images. I also bumped the Luminance noise reduction slider quite a bit to smooth things a bit, which I think also contributes to the painterly look of the final image. As a final bit of editing, I decided to crop out the lower portion of the image to focus more on the Miller’s Pub sign. I like the full length version as well because it works as more of a ‘street’ photograph, but I think I prefer this version.

Questions and feedback are always welcome, please leave them below!

Copyright ©2012 James W. Howe – All rights reserved

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  • Great processing, James, and the crop is perfect. Changing this image from a vertical to a horizontal and removing the distraction of the passing pedestrians was definitely the right move.
    Mark Summerfield recently posted…Bulltown Historic Area, West Virginia
    • James Howe says:
      Thanks for the feedback. When I worked on the original format of the image, my eyes were drawn more into the street scene rather than the other areas of the image. It worked, but I think I like this version better.
  • The processed version with its stylised look is most eye catching, and the cropping certainly contributes to the effect. l also like the street feel of this one, as shown uncropped, and could see that as being a highly effective image with suitable processing. The call is yours of course, James.

    As you’ve noted, Lightroom 4 has taken processing possibilities to an even higher level when compared to version 3. I just wish Adobe would hurry up with an update to fix the bugs in it, such as incorrect thumbnails appearing after batch renaming, and the adjustment brush not working at times. (l think I’ll do a write up of all this in a post soon.)
    Andrew Graeme Gould recently posted…Alice Springs, Central Australia

  • Jimi Jones says:
    Came by to see the original after your posting on G+. What a difference. That crop job really changed the overall focus on the scene, which I like. Very nice processing, man.
    Jimi Jones recently posted…Pier Six Pavilion

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