Cross Processing Japantown

I was walking to Dosa in Japantown this weekend when I saw this power-line tower being engulfed by low clouds with an otherwise perfectly clear blue sky overhead. Every once in a while the clouds would roll off and the structure would stand out like a B movie monster attacking Tokyo.

By climbing up on a railing and over the heads of people in a little park in the shopping district, I was able to get a reasonable shot using the Olympus 45mm F1.8 lens that I had picked up just that morning at Looking Glass Photo in Berkeley.

Although the view made an impression initially, I was unsure whether the one picture I managed to get before running to catch up with my family would turn out to be usable.

I’ve had less time for editing images lately while trying to get this new photo blog up and running. So, when I finished messing around with WordPress templates and getting the basic infrastructure in place, I went back to this picture and took a look. As you can see from the first image in the gallery at the top of this post — it would be understatement to say the composition was lacking the little bit of something I was looking for.

My workflow, starting with the OM-D E-M5 in this case, is based on raw files. I no longer bother writing JPEG’s to the card and find that I save a lot of time and memory space because of it. After starting to use Aperture a few months ago, I now tend to make my first two adjustments to white balance and exposure using the default settings. With this picture, I needed to nudge the exposure up beyond the auto adjust level to get the highlights to light up, but then I had to compromise a bit to avoid losing the intensity of the blue sky.

If you look at the cropping decision I made (2nd picture in the gallery above), the importance of the concept “space” may come to mind. Although my impression is that of looming menace along with a certain light and airy balancing act, your mileage may vary.

Once committed though, I had to carry through, and the main fault that I saw remaining was lack of focus — maybe due to the bi/tri-furcated subjects being pushed to the absolute periphery of the new frame. Because of growing up with hand-me-down Nikon SLR’s, borrowed high-grade glass, and a fully stocked refrigerator of Tri-X Pan at home, my immediate reaction in situations like this is to go monochrome.

The red filter B/W conversion looked OK, but I was still not feeling the drama I remembered at the scene. Having the Labor Day weekend crowd in the picture could have provided a little more theater. Not being able to go back and try again led me to another conclusion. Clicking the Xpro option has been causing me a fair amount of joy recently. This time was no exception.

That did it. The sky has serious intensity, the concrete pagoda flying-saucer thingies look ominous, and the 200 foot tall horned monster on the horizon seems to have a soul of sorts hidden away under his wiry exterior. Voila!

Of course, the shadows lost detail, the colors are downright unnatural, and having your attention drawn to the edge of a picture frame is disconcerting.

A scene like the one in this movie still must have been my subconscious inspiration

You can see a larger screen-scale version of my photo in urban landscapes, which is part of the portfolio section.

Let me know what you think.




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