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Dark City

(click on the image above to see it fit to your desktop resolution…and view it in a nicely framed lightbox)

I’m a huge science fiction movie fan. Not really so much the silly stuff that’s out there, but more of the solid, make-you-think kind of films, like Primer, Children of Men or Moon. When I completed this image and decided to use it for Movie Title Wednesday, I actually was thinking Inception at first, but without realizing it, I had been saying the true title to myself over and over while staring at it.

Dark City.

First off, I need to be honest. I saw the movie a long time ago and most of what I remember is that Keifer Sutherland was in it…it was dark and the ending was awesome. Oh, and I liked it. But I forgot everything else. I had to look up the plot again on IMDB just to remind myself. I even failed to remember that Jennifer Connelly was in it…and that’s hard to do.

If you haven’t seen it and love great sci-fi, go rent it asap. Almost everyone I know who has seen it thought it was brilliant. It’s kind of a cult classic in the way that not everyone knows about it but at the same time has a huge following. Like Firefly.

Also, if you haven’t seen Primer, Children of Men or Moon…well, rent them too.

This photo comes from two nights ago after it rained for half the day. I was hoping it would start clearing up before the sun went down and I got lucky. What I love about weather…is that even if I’m in the most urban of environments, I can still include it in my images. The leftover puddles…the clouds. I basically left home with the idea to find reflections in puddles wherever I could and I can’t wait to post the other shots I got from this night.

One last thing about this image. It’s HDR. It’s kind of dark. There are details you can’t see because of the shadows. And I love it. Don’t be afraid to process your high dynamic range images with details lost  in shadows. I know it seems counter-intuitive to capture the entire light range of a scene and then not show it all…but I urge you to give it a shot.

Also, I shot this with my 50mm 1.4. I *heart* that lens.

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 platform at 5th and Mill Avenue

I took this shot as I was leaving downtown Tempe last Friday night. I had been feeling pretty lousy about the shots I’d taken, they didn’t feel “awesome” and I had no idea what I would end up with. I switched to my 50mm lens when I was walking out and wished I had taken the time to just walk around and snap candid “life” photos of downtown instead of what I had been doing the last few hours.

Don’t get me wrong…I ended up with a few nice shots, a beautiful sunset…but while HDR is great and fun, it’s also a lot of work and it takes me away on occasion from the beauty of a simple shot of a sign on a light rail platform.

I loved this photo, but I loved it even more when my wife said she thinks she’d love to have this printed and on a wall somewhere. She’s always a good gauge for me. Of course, she’s more partial to this type of photography than the grand scale of some of my HDR work.

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.

Something different: Urban photography with Brian

Brian is starting a church down in central Phoenix, a place where God has led him and his family to reach the urban crowd. Downtown Phoenix isn’t like your normal big city downtown, at least those like San Francisco, New York, Boston, etc. It’s more spread out, there are wider spaces, houses and random sprawl.

But it still has a central corridor and some high rise buildings. Brian wanted some photos of himself down there to use on his blog, or in other things that may come up. The goal was to capture not only photos of him, but also of downtown Phoenix itself in the background and perhaps the people living there.

This was a challenge for me personally, and while I liked some of these shots, I think I could do much better with more practice. I’ve been successful at photoshoots  of people, but the focus was mainly on THEM, not as much to show the place the photo was being taken. So the challenge of getting something good of Brian while showcasing urban Phoenix was a big one.

Some of the results of the shoot are below. I also just took a few random photos of the light rail tracks which are after the shots of Brian. I’d love to shoot down there more often and really scour Phoenix urban scene. The possibilities are endless.

Also, if interested in the church he’s starting, you can visit www.Day12.org.