Posted on Nov.04, 2010, under Michigan

(Nikon D700, 16-35mm at 22mm, ISO 200, Exposure 1/250 sec @ f/11)

Ok, maybe it’s not really a garden path, but a path none the less. This shot was taken at Traverse City Commons, also known as the old Traverse City State Mental Hospital also known as the Northern Michigan Asylum. The hospital buildings and grounds are being converted from decaying hulks into retail shops and residential condos. A few buildings have been converted, but there are many others that are still in rough shape. The image above shows one such cluster of buildings.

Processing on this image consisted of two main changes, cropping from horizontal to vertical, and conversion from color to black and white. The picture was shot with my 16-35mm lens and I originally thought that a wide shot would be interesting. While processing it, however, I noticed that the path made for an interesting element and the wide shot didn’t emphasize it enough. I cropped so that the image focuses more on the path that leads to one of the buildings. I converted the image using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro. After getting a basic conversion, I used some control points to brighten some of the vegetation as well as the path. I finished the image off with a bit of a vignette.

Garden Path - as shot

Comments or thoughts?

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

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  • Good choices all, I think. In particular, the switch to a vertical format did exactly what you intended. I’ve only recently started mixing up the aspect ratios on my crops and it’s a very useful tool. The BW conversion also came out well.
  • Susan Roth says:
    Great shot! Spooky in black and white. Sorry, can’t be more technical than that. Good work though.
  • John Barclay says:
    Well, I’m going to be the thorn… I believe I would rather see this shot in its original format, horizontal. I’d crop the left side to the inside of the 2nd window next to the tree. I believe the path will still be strong enough and FEEL the framing of the trees will make for a stronger composition. Just my 2 cents…

    Also, I’ll be posting a post today that will include a link to you and your work.

    • James Howe says:
      Not a thorn at all. I’ll admit that I hadn’t really thought of using the trees to frame the path. I look forward to reading your post and thanks for the link!
  • Pictures within pictures… I like what you created with your vertical crop -and- great conversion and use of Nik’s Silver Efex Pro to enhance the final visions within.

    From concept, vision, capture and view-after… it is amazing how our view changes from when first seen to when we view and see something different again within the image. I like what you created with your vertical crop.

    Not to be an additional thorn: I do agree with John Barclay and to keep the image “as was” (horizontal) and frame close to the trees. The trees add a great balance, presence and tell the story of how the old cement path likely cracked over the years from the roots of the trees. Keep the black-and-white… that is simply an awesome transformation and brings new (old) spirit to this historical site. The stories these buildings, trees and grounds could say…

    All in all, a very powerful image and looks great in black-and-white. Awesome work!

    • James Howe says:
      Thanks for your comments and thoughts. I appreciate constructive criticism, it helps me to see the image in different ways and gives me ideas on things to look for or try in other images.
  • Bob Towery says:
    You know, I was so captivated by the processed image, I didn’t even notice the orig! Third time I have come back to review the image. It’s a very intriguing one. I get the feeling some animals have laid down in the grass there. It’s all spooky and kind of time shifting. The fact that the building is just a little crooked adds to this feeling for me. This one is a real winner.
    • James Howe says:
      Very observant, I hadn’t really noticed or thought about why the grass was matted down. Given the location of this building it is highly likely that deer or other animals have been there. It’s also funny that you mention that the building is a little crooked. Normally I correct any tilt that I see in a building. For some reason I didn’t even really notice the tilt in this image, but I think the fact that it is less ‘precise’ works well with the condition of the path and the buildings themselves. Thanks for looking in!

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