Posted on Jan.10, 2011, under Travel

(Nikon D700, 28-300mm at 40mm, ISO 200, Exposure 1/500 sec @ f/5.6)

When you take a trip to the Caribbean there are many opportunities to buy things ‘duty-free’. The big industry seems to be to buy alcohol, jewelry or other items that you can bring back to the states without import taxes. This emphasis on ‘duty-free’ shopping is most evident in the port towns that are visited by cruise ships. This shot was taken in St. Thomas, USVI on a recent trip. My wife and I walked from our ship into the ‘downtown’ area and were greeted with shop upon shop selling jewelry or alcohol to the tourists. Most of the stores looked to be quite high-end. We weren’t interested in buying anything so we didn’t really check out the stores. Many of the shops in this part of St. Thomas were housed in what appeared to be shells of older buildings. In addition, there were alleys that separated the structures which also had shops.

I took this shot as we walked through one of the alleyways. I liked the strong light on the sign and the shadow it cast on the wall. I also liked the way the sun brought out the texture of the wall. For some reason when I took the shot I decided to shoot it wide. I had a 28-300mm lens on my camera and this shot was taken at 40mm. When I was processing it, however, I decided that the wide shot didn’t really capture the intent that I had when I took it. I was drawn to the signage and the shadows and the wide angle shot didn’t work. In processing, I reworked the crop to focus more on the sign and its shadow.

I know that one of my problems as a photographer is that I don’t always take the time needed to get my best shot. When you are with others, it is even more difficult. I should really get in the habit of taking a shot horizontally, vertically and if I’m using a zoom, I should try close-up as well as far away. While you can certainly crop into a larger image, you certainly lose the benefits of all those megapixels if you end up throwing out 60-70% of them.

Process of this image was fairly straight-forward. I used the crop tool in Lightroom to get the crop that I wanted and then I opened the image in Photoshop. I used the ‘Daily Multi-Vitamin’ preset in PhotoTools and used Silver Efex Pro to convert to black and white. I used a custom preset that I had created that I call Holga Panatomic-X. It’s a modification of the Silver Efex Holga preset with decreased grain and uses the Panatomic-X film emulation. A bit of toning was then added to this preset. In Photoshop I added a curves layer to adjust some of the brightness levels and finished it off with some sharpening via the Unsharp Mask filter.


Copyright © 2010-2011 James W. Howe – All rights reserved.

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