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Judgment Night

(Canon Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, ISO100, F8, six exposure HDR)

Back in 1993 in the late fall, a little movie called Judgment Night hit theaters and my wife (then new girlfriend, we had graduated that summer from high school) checked it out one Friday evening. We never knew exactly what it was…maybe the theater was cold and it made the atmosphere feel a bit more real…but my wife and I got totally sucked into this film and completely freaked out by it. And we loved it. I mean, it’s a vivid memory for both of us to this day, 17 years later. When I showed this image to my wife last night asking if I should call it “The Matrix” or “Over the Top” for Movie Title Wednesday, she looked at it for a few seconds and said, “No, it makes me think of Judgment Night.

And that’s why I love this woman. She is always there to make me re-think things or to give me that other point-of-view that I so desperately need.

So this movie was great right? Denis Leary chasing Cuba Gooding Jr. and Emilio Estevez across the urban slums of some big city. After Jina pointed out the name of that film, it made complete sense to me. I can totally see these guys scrambling up some stairs and crossing this bridge over the freeway to get away from the guys wanting to kill them.

I love this photo…it’s one of the first few I shot once we moved to downtown Phoenix and it’s part of a 3-image series…the first being “Speed” and the second a shot I used for First Friday. I’m a big fan of symmetry and depth in an image, hence a lot of my shots have roads in them. The shape of the protective cage on this pedestrian bridge was also fun. Of course, I think the sky makes this image complete…stormy clouds just after the sun went down…such a great night.

I’m really starting to get sucked into to the world of urban photography and finding the beauty in all of it. I need to get out there a bit more!

(PS. I just posted this shot to Flickr and for some reason it took me this long to see that it might not be perfectly level…sometimes I see that, sometimes I don’t. Hard to tell on this one)

Glowing Rails

(Canon Rebel XSI, Tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, 8-exposures, F8)

Back three weeks ago when I realized it was going to be a nice sunset, I’d drive 5 minutes and be in the middle of the desert. Now I’m scrambling for places in downtown Phoenix that will compliment the gorgeous skies we get down here in the evenings and mornings.

My little family and I had been driving around downtown two weekends ago just exploring and seeing what kind of restaurants are there, shops, etc. Of course I was unconsciously more focused on things I could photograph, but when isn’t that true? We passed these tracks and I just knew I had to come back sometime.

By the way, the cardinal rule about never leaving a sunset until it’s well past the sun actually going down is so very important. As the sun disappeared on this night, the high clouds that were hanging around all afternoon suddenly appeared to vanish. I was like “UGH! They were amazing, why did they just go POOF like that? Argh, better drive around and see what else I can find to shoot while I’m here.” Sure enough, I found something that I’m extremely excited to post at a later time, but as I was snapping the shutter I saw the sky. Wow…all the clouds were back and they were on fire.

Obviously they had never left, but the sun going down made them blend in with the sky for a few minutes before they got nailed with that amazing light. Don’t. Give.Up.On.Your.Sunset.

I love the train tracks in this photo more than anything…the way they were shiny enough to reflect the sky was remarkable. Next time though I think I’d like to be further down the tracks, closer to that bridge you see in the distance.

Postcard from Bruges, Belgium

By far…by far the place I loved the most on my trip over to the Netherlands, was the drive we took to see Bruges (or Brugge), Belgium. I had heard about it from the movie “In Bruges”, a fantastic, funny, dark comedy that came out a few years ago…and then had some friends tell me I needed to see it if I went there.

The town is old and has medieval architecture. The canals twist around, little bridges go here and there and old trees, paths and stone can be seen everywhere.

This particular shot was taken around 9pm as we were getting ready to leave. The sunsets in this area of the world tend to drag out a long time, so it was nice to have time to see the city in a lovely dusk color.

I was struck by the reflection of the buildings in the water, the details on the left canal wall, the color of the roofs on the right and the simpleness of the few clouds in the sky. I wasn’t carrying my tripod, so this was propped on the railing of another stone bridge to get. Three bracket HDR.

Definitely one of my favorite shots of the trip…because it will always remind me of Bruges. A quiet, peaceful, ancient and awe-inspiring town.

(More shots from Holland: My Holland Trip)

The Light Rail Bridge over Tempe Town Lake

I guess I’m not done with stuff I shot in Tempe a few weekends ago. I had some issues with this photo but I worked them out and finally got around to posting it.

This bridge is for the public transit system we call “the light rail” here in Phoenix. It’s kind of slow, it has to stop for traffic lights, cost a lot of money and time, but it’s actually pretty cool that we finally have something like this here in town. This particular bridge goes over Tempe Town Lake and the underneath of it changes colors randomly.  I have a few other shots of it right here from late last year where you can see a couple of other tones.

The lighted bridges in the background is the Mill Avenue Bridges, which are simply beautiful at night with the stringed lights going over the lake. Stunning.

The light rail bridge in Tempe, AZ

I’ve been playing around a bit with my HDR processing methods after snapping photos in downtown Tempe Saturday night. I was ending up with a lot of noise in my shots and had to find alternative ways of getting the job done.

This one above was in the same boat, but I ended up loving how it looked anyways. There is a lot of “grain” as I like to call it in the shot above. The sky, the clouds, the underneath of the bridge…all have a lot of dirty noise going on. I felt it looked a little more abstract than normal. So instead of processing it like normal, I ended up trying to embrace what I was given.

It works here for me. The clouds were moving fast, you can see the trees on the left look like they were blowing around pretty good. I lowered the saturation of the original HDR photo and masked in bits and pieces of an original raw shot.

I hated it at first because the colors were dominating the shot and there was gobs of noise, but just dropping the saturation gave it a whole other atmosphere. I love the grain, which is something I work very hard against in most of my other HDR photos. Experimenting today with something different…let the noise be your friend.

A lot of techno babble, but it was a tough group of photos to process. I left my photowalk not loving the shots I got, so being able to turn any of them into something I actually love has been a triumphant struggle.

Aside from all the post-processing talk, I just loved the composition of the shot. The bridge coming from overhead and behind, plus the curved road in front of me. I timed it to make sure I got a some headlights going around the bend, but it wasn’t s super-busy road. The clouds in the sky were hard to see with the naked eye, but a 30-second exposure really created something with a little motion to it.

Mill Avenue Bridges

My previous post about the sunset over the Tempe Town Lake wasn’t the only thing I photographed down in that Tempe area. My excursion that night led me all the way to downtown Phoenix, but my favorite stuff ended up being what I found in Tempe.

In fact, it’s an amazing thing about photography. The stuff I was “planning” on shooting when I left the house ended up being my least favorite things that night and it was the random, surprising stuff that made it such a worthy trip.

So after the sunset I drove down to the little beach park area underneath the Mill Avenue bridges that cross the lake. There is a northbound and southbound bridge, a light rail bridge and then an old railroad bridge. A fairly awesome place to take pictures. So here are the results:

(FYI, some of these might look great hanging somewhere in your house, office or Tempe Chamber of Commerce *grin* let me know if you are interested in a print)

This first photo is an HDR and is off the Mill Avenue Bridge from the west. We’re looking south into Tempe during dusk and the lights that are strung across the bridge really light this thing up. I love this photo.

I moved east into the little space between the north/southbound bridges. This is an HDR, but technically came from only one image. I’ve learned a lot about processing and have snagged a few tools that really help finish these things off.

This shot is further west between the light rail bridge (on the left) and the railroad bridge. The light rail has this unique aspect of having the underneath lit up by lights of all different colors. You can see some of them here.

This shot is of the light rail on the east side and is just a standard, time-lapsed photo. The yellow and white streaks at the top of the bridge are actually of a light rail train passing over while I took the photo. You can see further down the bridge where the white lights start, which is when I pressed the shutter open. The light on the bridge itself can be seen changing from a blue-ish color to purple off in the distance.

This is the same as the above shot but also an HDR.