CBOT Vault Door

by on Oct.25, 2013, under Mechanical

CBOT Vault Door

(Nikon D800, 28-300mm at 35mm, Exposure 1/10 seconds @ f/5.6, ISO 2500)

This past weekend the Chicago Board of Trade opened it’s bank vault to the public. The bank vault was one of many places in Chicago that were open to view as part of the 2013 Open House Chicago event, sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Not surprisingly, the vault was a popular destination for photographers and non-photographers alike. What attracted my eye the most was the enormous vault door with its intricate locking mechanism. I also found the use of the contrasting metals to be quite attractive. I don’t know if there is an engineering reason for the selection of metals, or whether it was just an example of great combination of functional and aesthetic design, but the end result was wonderful.

When processing the image I first used Lightroom to make some visual adjustments. The most visible change was probably the heavy use of clarity. I wanted to have an ‘enhanced’ look to the shot, something that brought out all the details that I could muster. I then used Perfect Effects to do some more work with the contrast. I also decided to try a conversion to black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2. Since my focus in this image was on the intricate design, I thought that black and white might work. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to keep the nice contrast between the brass parts and the steel parts of the door, everything sort of muddled together. Besides, the color elements were as much a feature of the design as the gears themselves so doing this shot in black and white just wasn’t going to work. In the end I created a black and white conversion and the reduced the opacity to let much of the color come through. I think this creates an interesting look.

CBOT Vault Door - As shot

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below.

All images available for sale or license. Please visit my Imagekind Galleries, Fine Art America Galleries or contact me for more information.

Copyright © 2013 James W. Howe – All rights reserved

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Concert at Millenium Park – Chicago, Illinois

by on Aug.05, 2013, under Chicago

(Nikon D800, 16-35mm at 16mm, Exposure 30 seconds @ f/13, ISO 125)

I really enjoy visiting Millenium Park in Chicago, Illinois. It’s got a great location and there is always something interesting to see. One of the centerpieces of the park is the Jay Pritzer Pavilion. The Pavilion consists of the stage, some fixed seating and a large grassy park. Over the park is a lattice of metal which serves both as a design element as well a providing a structure to support speakers. The sound is engineered so that no matter where you sit in the pavilion, you hear great sound. On a recent visit to Chicago, my wife and I took some time to attend a free concert by the Grant Park Symphony. I shot this from the back of the pavilion to try and bring in some of the architecture of the city. The Chicago Blackhawks had recently won the Stanley Cup and this fact was celebrated by the word ‘Hawks’ appearing in the office lights of the Prudential building.

The image was a long exposure and I tried not to burn out some of the brighter elements. If you look at the raw image below, you will see that the stage is too bright. I was able to adjust things in Lightroom, however, to give the image a more balanced look. I also used the gradient filter to bring up the exposure on the bottom of the image to help bring the crowd into the image. Finally I did some minor perspective correction using the built in lens correction feature of Lightroom. If you click the top image to bring up the lightbox viewer and then click the next button in the lower left, you can see the effect of the changes I made to the image.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below.

All images available for sale or license. Please visit my Imagekind Galleries, Fine Art America Galleries or contact me for more information.

Copyright © 2013 James W. Howe – All rights reserved

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1936 Terraplane Express Cab Truck

by on Jul.26, 2013, under Automobiles

(Nikon D700, 28-300mm at 28mm, Exposure 1/500th second @ f9.0, ISO 250)

I’m not typically a ‘truck’ shooter, they generally don’t do anything for me, although I am starting to appreciate some of the design work of earlier trucks. When I visited the Concours d’Elegance at St. John last year I was struck by this particular truck. It is a 1936 Terraplane Express Cab Truck manufactured by the Hudson Motor Car Company. The Terraplane name replaced the earlier ‘Essex’ nameplate as the lower priced companion car to the Hudson. This particular truck was used on a dairy farm to haul milk cans and then used at an upstate New York garage. It was found in the basement of a house where it had been stored and underwent a 3 year restoration.

As is my usual approach to these images, my goal is to separate the car (or in this case the truck) from the noisy background you find at car shows. Once again, the Buz Sim preset of Topaz Simplify did a nice job with abstracting the background elements and I just had to carefully mask out the area over the truck.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below.

This image is available for purchase. Click here for more details.

All images available for sale or license. Please visit my Imagekind Galleries, Fine Art America Galleries or contact me for more information.

Copyright ©2013 James W. Howe – All rights reserved

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1938 Darracq/Talbot Lago T-150

by on Jul.24, 2013, under Automobiles

(Olympus E-3, 14-54mm @ 19mm 2x Crop Factor, Exposure 1/400 @ f/7.1, ISO 100)

The Concours d’Elegance at St. John is coming up this weekend (July 28th) and in preparation I thought I might post an image or two taken at some past shows. This image was taken at the 2010 Concours d’Elegance held at Meadowbrook Hall near Rochester Hills, Michigan. The Concours was held at Meadowbrook for years, but for various reasons the event shifted to a larger venue at St. John near Plymouth, Michigan. The car in the shot is a 1938 Darracq/Talbot Lago T-150-C Roadster by Figoni & Falaschi. The T-150 was introduced in 1934 and several variations were produced. The T-150 was Talbot’s racing car. Only about 60 were produced and half of them had custom coachwork. There were fourteen Talbot-Lago T150C cars created by Figoni & Filaschi from 1937 until 1939. This particular car was featured at the 1939 Brussels Concours d’Elegance. The current owners gave the car a complete restoration in 2000

As I’ve described in other posts, shooting cars at car shows can be a challenge. The cars are not often presented in the best light, it can be hard to get a good angle, and there are always people in the shot. One way I deal with this problem is to try and de-emphasize the surroundings and bring more attention to the car. Often times I do this by simply focusing on a small detail of the car. When I shoot the full car, I’ll process the image to create a more abstract background. My favorite technique is to use Topaz Simplify to create a ‘simplified’ version of the image, generally using the ‘Buz Sim’ preset. This preset creates a chunky, more abstract image. I then carefully paint on a layer mask to bring back details of the car.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below.

All images available for sale or license. Please visit my Imagekind Galleries, Fine Art America Galleries or contact me for more information.

Copyright ©2013 James W. Howe – All rights reserved

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1936 Cord Convertible Coupe

by on Jul.22, 2013, under Automobiles

(Olympus E-3, 14-54mm at 19mm – 2x crop factor, Exposure 1/60th @ f/5.6, ISO 250)

One of my favorite cars of all time is the 1936 Cord. It has really great lines, cool chrome exhausts and I love the ‘coffin nose’ hood. This particular Cord is a 1936 Cord Convertible Coupe and it one of many vintage Cord’s that are on display at the Auburn, Cord, Dusenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana. Not only does the museum have Cord automobiles of different vintages, they have a wonderful collection of Auburns, Dusenbergs and other classic automobiles. The museum is housed in the original Auburn Automobile Company factory and headquarters. The main floor of the museum occupies the old showroom. This particular cord is displayed on a rotating platform, much as it might have been when it was on display in the original showroom.

Taking pictures of cars in a museum is about as difficult as taking pictures at car shows. Unless you have special permission, you really can’t do much to control the light or other factors. I was pretty fortunate with this shot that the car was being displayed in a ‘natural’ environment for the car and there we’re too many distracting ropes or signs surrounding it. There was one cable, or something, that appears in the original image which required removal. For the rest of the processing, In Photoshop, I used the Topaz Simplify filter on the ‘Buz Sim’ preset to create an image which looked more like an abstract painting. The filter removes details and gives the image a slightly hand crafted look. Since I wanted to emphasize the car, I used a layer mask to remove the effect from the car itself. I also reduced the opacity a bit on the sign which appears just outside of the building on the right. The sign is a historical marker which talks about the building. I wanted the text to be readable, but I wanted the other exterior elements to be more abstract and less of a distraction.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below.

All images available for sale or license. Please visit my Imagekind Galleries, Fine Art America Galleries or contact me for more information.

Copyright ©2013 James W. Howe – All rights reserved

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