Category Archives: Architecture
The Natural History Museum is a stunning building, with some great architecture which is very Harry Potter-esque. Unfortunately it’s a busy as Hogwarts is, making it hard to take a photo without people in it.
That’s why it’s best to get in there and take photos after hours, when the museum is closed to tourists, the staff have all but left, and the big dinosaur from the main entrance sneaks off for a game of poker.
If anyone has out of hours access to the museum and can verify that the above happens or, better still, get me into the building, then please do get in touch.
For now I will make do with having to use my ingenuity and brain smarts to get around the people. Or Photoshop…whichever.
This image is from two exposures and was handheld. I had to do a little bit of cloning here and there [insert your own cloning/dinosaur/Jurassic Park joke here] to get rid of a couple of people who were standing around, but not too much at the end of the day. I love images that are symmetrical because you can take an extract from the opposite side of the image and horizontally flip it over to use on the other side. That’s when you really find out that your image isn’t as symmetrical as you might like to think.
It works in this situation though.
Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels, Belgium.
I was recently given a reviewers copy of B&W Effects 2 by Topaz Labs, but having been busy for the past 6 weekends, and mostly travelling, I haven’t been able to actually put my thoughts on this software down on paper – until now. I’ve also recorded a video of myself working on the above image, so feel free to check that our also; it’s 18 minutes long.
I’ve tried a couple of black and white plugins previously…but have never really got on with any of them. However, I find that I’m consistently returning to B&W Effects 2 when processing my daily images, and it’s now become a part of my workflow. I had only really used Topaz Denoise previously (on 90% of my images, to be honest), so this is a welcome addition to the collection.
First up, the interface is nice and simple and easy to use – it was pretty intuitive to just dive right in there and start using it. It was natural to start at the top left of the screen where I could select a ‘collection’ to work from; follow that down by selecting a preset which is part of the collection, and then when I’ve settled on one of those simply head over to the right hand navigation panel to tweak the image how I require. Simple.
However; there were a few too many options for me when it came to the final tweaking. I’m used to doing many things in Lightroom and CS6, so features such as dodging and burning or curve adjustments just didn’t seem necessary in a plugin as far as I was concerned.
I’m rather short sighted, however, as I have no idea what other image hosts may have as features, and it may be that you require these additional features from directly within the plugin.
My biggest issues with the software are that it needs to generate previews of the image each time you select a collection, and sometimes it can appear to be a little unresponsive – mostly because it’s catching up on a previous action before moving on to the next. If that’s all I have to complain about though, then that’s not a bad thing. The former can be overcome over time simply by adding your most used presets to your ‘favourites’ collection as these will all load at once and so it’s likely you’ll only need to load the presets once.
I didn’t use the original B&W Effects so can’t say how this one differs from the previous version, but I’m happy enough with the features this one does have, and the control it allows you over the final adjustments.
Convert your image to black and white in under 30 seconds
Large selection of presets available
Ability to finely adjust selected presets
Apply finishing effects from within the plugin
Reasonable price point ($60)
Preview load times are noticeable when they should be instantaneous
Cannot be used as a standalone application
A versatile package with a vast array of presets which will suit many images. Topaz B&W Effects 2 has become a part of daily workflow, allowing me to create a new look to my images within seconds.
This is the Latvian Academy of Sciences in Riga. It’s a lovely building, was the first place I headed to after I had checked into my hotel, and was the place I visited the most during my trip there.
That’s not because I’m a scientist. Far from it.
The sign that you can see at the foot of the right door states that you can access this building for Panoramic views of Riga from 8am through to 10pm; what’s more it costs 2.50 Lats to get in there – that’s about £3. Sure, St Peter’s Church is in the heart of the old town, and is a little higher, but it’s twice the price, hasn’t got such great opening hours, is much busier, and has more barriers in place. On the 17th floor of this building you could jump off if you so desired. Please don’t though, as that would result in barriers being put up, which nobody wants.
I visited three times as my initial visit was during a cloudless sky in the middle of the day, my second (where this shot was taken) was in passing simply because there was an hour or so on the Sunday where some great clouds came blustering by the city, and the third was later that day where I went to the top again just to see if there was going to be a nice sunset (there wasn’t).
Here’s the view from the top should you wish to see it from the comfort of your chair: Panoramic view of Riga
Happy Monday, I hope that everyone had a lovely weekend. I’m currently in the sunny seaside town of Skegness on the East coast of England.
This building could be anywhere, but for those who sweat the small stuff and would like to know more details, I can remember that it’s in Brussels…somewhere.
The sky was bright blue on this hot Saturday, so I thought I would do a bit of processing to get rid of what was a very boring sky. I used B&W Effects 2 by Topaz Labs to introduce the green/yellow tone into the image, and then added a bit of a lens flare at the top of the building.
Not sure I’ll have very many images of Skegness when I return, so don’t expect any images whatsoever of donkeys and ice cream.
We’re back to the Elephant & Castle in South London for this image, which is where we’re both starting and ending this week’s posts.
The Strata Tower is visible from many places within London, and is most easily recognised by the three large fans that can be found on the top of the building, built to harness the wind and provide energy savings for the building itself.
It was a stupidly windy day when I was here, but my 3 Legged Thing tripod seemed to stand up to that admirably, even while doing a long exposure with a B&W filter.
No matter how strong the wind blew, however, those fans on the top did not move at all which leads me to question the overall usefulness of them.
Processing was a straightforward affair; I sharpened a little in CS6 and then ran it through one of the filters in B&W Effects 2 by Topaz Labs – simple.
I hope everyone has had a good week.
This is an automated post, as I am currently in Beijing; therefore my responses will be slow – if at all.
This is a glimpse at a very small section of the Heygate Estate in South London. It’s a large, empty estate that is due to be demolished at some time or other, and simply sits there unused – mostly looking drab if it wasn’t fot the graffiti that offers a colour burst around every corner.
Though I’ve known about it for some time I had never ventured there, but took the opportunity to do so on a photocrawl last week where the starting point was the Elephant & Castle, and the main item I wanted to photograph was the Strata Tower (coming up later this week).
Next time Jim is in town I think we should certainly head here for a quick walk around.
This is an automated post, as I am currently in Beijing; therefore my responses will be slow – if at all.
Long time readers of my photoblog may remember that I did a set of images from around the Olympic Park in London while we were hosting that magnificent event. Those who take far too big an interest will also remember my image of Orbit. If you do remember these things then, please, stop paying so much interest in me. It’s a little creepy to be honest…what’s next, telling me that you know what time I shower in the morning?
Just kidding, of course.
I don’t shower.
Anyhoo – this is my exiting Orbit via the staircase after enjoying the sights of London from the viewing area which is at the top of it. It’s the place I was while taking yesterday’s image of the skyline and rain over London.
I’m off to Beijing tomorrow for a week of work followed by a few days leisure. I’ll be scheduling Monday – Friday posts to go up on this site so you stalkers don’t miss my daily updates.
Yes, the large mass of swirling black clouds in this image indicate that it was another rainy day in London. It was a cold one too, but we’ve had a lot of that lately.
I bet it’s the wrong kind of rain though. No doubt as soon as the sun pops his head out in the near future we’ll be thrust back into a hosepipe ban of some sort.
Okay, I guess it’s time to play a game of ‘name that building’. One point for naming any of the buildings in this image, and two points if you can tell me where I was when I took it – not that I was drunk and don’t know where I was, of course. If you need help you can look at the image tags (depending on where you are reading this).
What you see here is me looking down a nice long lift shaft.
The set up was a little tricky as it was quite dark, I was stood at the top of a ladder and holding on to the tripod while setting the camera on a 10 second countdown to thrust it out into the shaft and let it settle before the exposures kicked in.
As a result the composition was a little bit hit and miss, so I had to do a little perspective/distortion/warping in CS6 afterwards. The results had a contrast boost and then I added the Urban Sickness filter from Perfect Effects by OnOneSoftware.
As the intelligent viewers who are reading this post will probably have guessed, this building is a town hall and it is in Waltham Forest.
I drove past it on the way in to London a couple of weeks ago and decided I would head back there to try and grab a few shots while the clouds were there doing their best to look dramatic.
I can’t say I’ll ever feel the need to head back to that part of London though.
It’s a late post from me today, and to be honest I’m still laying in bed. Part laziness, part illness. 100% rock and roll.
Have a good weekend all.
I’ve shot the concourse area at Kings Cross so much that I’ve stopped calling it the ‘new’ concourse area. However, I was heading home a couple of weeks ago after a Friday night of beer and fancied a burrito so decided to stop by there once more – I happened to have the new 14mm lens on me (yes, I’m still classifying that one as ‘new’).
I had shot this angle before, but never come away with anything that I liked, but this wide angle lens seemed to correct that as I found myself really liking this one.
There wasn’t too much processing done to this one; this is a single exposure which I took straight into CS6 before sharpening a tad and adding a couple of OnOne filters for (split tone orange and a vintage type one), then I warped out the bottom right corner slightly to try and fix a few wonky parts of the architecture (I blame them, not the photographer).
That’s it really.
I really am loving this 14mm lens. As you can see, I used it while stood under this bridge, hiding from the snow.
I think most of my readers would have expected an image of the Shard today, as it’s finally opening the viewing floors to the public. Ha ha…I’m not that predictable! Nor am I that prepared to get an image ready
Today I’m going mostly to check it out and see what it’s like, the weather is terrible so I’ll plan other visits later in the year for sunsets etc.
Have a great weekend all.
These are the Royal Courts of Justice in London. I have taken photos of them many times, however it’s only now that I have the 14mm that I’m finally happy with the scene taken, as it means I can get a lot more into the frame than I ever could before.
I have been inside here previously as part of the Open House weekend that is held in London every year, so I look forward to returning at some stage so that I can use the nice wide angle on the interior, it has a few great looking spots inside.
As you can see by the ground, this was taken a few weeks ago when the snow was with us.
After my meetings were done, and before meeting up with Scott Wood for a few drinks, the Space Needle was the first location in Seattle that was on my to visit list, and luckily it was nice and close to the hotel.
I managed to get up to three different vantage points during my short trip, and though this one wasn’t my favourite in the end it was certainly the only one which I knew I wanted to do…the other two, Colombia Tower and Smith’s Tower, just kinda happened.
I couldn’t see Mount Rainier from any of them.
Well, that’s Christmas over for another year.
Today’s image was taken on a photocrawl I did at the start of December. I should really do more photocrawls over the next year…but then that’s what I said last year also.
It’s a beautiful day today, and probably a very good one for getting out there and taking a few shots. Think I may just stay in bed though. We’ll see.
Standing atop one of the highest buildings in London and you still can’t get a full on view of the Shard – pft.
The London skyline has come on leaps and bounds over the past decade. It’s been interesting seeing it shift from one dynamic to another, from both the ground and the sky, and though I know there are people who dislike the number of structures being built I am in favour of them.
I was at Centrepoint on Friday night looking out over the beautiful city below and was fondly remembering the buildings I have been up over the past few years, pointing them out to a friend and indicating how the city connects. I looked in awe at the dozens of other buildings I didn’t go up but know people who have, a moment of both regret that I hadn’t, but hope that I still could for many of them.
It’s a wonderful city.
This was the final shot that I captured while in Edinburgh. I was walking around for a few hours in between seeing friends off at the train station and catching my own train, and so I used that time to do a spot of geocaching. This was a time when the Sony NEX-7 really did come in handy due to the size and weight of it; it’s the perfect camera to walk around with and just shoot anything that catches your eye.
Friday at last and there’s not too much going on this weekend; I’m helping a friend with a house move in some form or other tomorrow, and on Sunday I really should be doing a little Christmas shopping, though I believe a photocrawl is on the cards for the sunset and evening.
Busy day to get through today first though…hope you all have a good weekend.
I was having a good processing night the other evening, which was a good job as I had a few images to get through in order to maintain my one post per week day. As such, this image was processed in quick succession from yesterdays, which is why they are both from the same location.
Two very different images though.
I don’t remember exactly where within City Hall this image was taken, but I feel it was one of the locations at the top of the building. I did very simple processing on this one, a little sharpening and then I ran it through a filter using Perfect B&W by OnOneSoftware.
Speaking of processing, do check out the new Google+ community called ‘The Photo Post Processing & Stylization Center‘ which has been set up by Brian Matiash and Christopher Germano. It’s going to be interesting to see how communities develop within Google+ and I’m hoping they are a to be a location to share and learn, and not a breeding ground for pure self promotion.
Here’s another angle on the set of central stairs that can be found in City Hall, London. I’ve been processing a lot of my architectural shots in a blue tone of late and so I decided I would try something a little different with this image. As a results I used a few different filters on it, but the main one was Urban Sickness which is part of the Perfect Effects plugin from OnOneSoftware.
I stood pretty near to the corner of the upper corridor to grab this image and liked both the reflective surfaces on the wall and the tubular support which acts as a leading line from the top left. It was taken during Open House weekend so it was pretty difficult to get the stairs without anyone using them. I certainly failed to do so which is why you can catch a glimpse of a few people working their way through the scene.
In other news, today I have a workflow video up on HDROne showing my process of processing the Golden Falls image I took in Iceland earlier this year. Please do check it out if you have time to spare and an interested in how I get things done.
Not sure what it is about this particular piece of architecture, taken in the main concourse of the newly developed King’s Cross Station, but it seems to work well in this muted blue tone.
I had time to kill before taking a train out of London for the weekend, and there’s only a few things that I can do in this station under that circumstance. The first is to grab a burrito from the wonderful Benito’s Hat. The second is to take photos. On this occasion I had already eaten lunch, so I wandered around with the Sony NEX-7 for a while. One of the things I like most about this little camera is the LED viewfinder. It can be pulled out from the main body slightly and placed at various angles which means you reduce the effort needed to take shots looking up – and this means you’re able to get things a little more symmetrical than you may do otherwise.
I attempted to process this one initially in black and white, however this wasn’t really working for me and it felt like something was missing – so I went ahead and added the blue tint, pretty sure that that would do the trick.
I hope everyone had a nice weekend. I did, but am now developing a cold so can’t say this week is going to be too wonderful if that hits me.
On Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting up with a few photographers for a photowalk; the weather was ‘fresh’ to start with but rapidly descending to ‘ooh, rather nippy’ which forced us, after around 3 hours, to repair to the pub for a pint or three. It was a pleasure to head out there with Ollie, Scott, Yorkshire Stacked, mattomatto and John.
As the (poor) blue hour came upon us everyone was walking around the Lloyds building, so I took the opportunity to nip over to the Gherkin and take this shot before it got too dark.
Hopefully there will be a few more jaunts before the end of the year, but that is rapidly approaching.
Spending a few days in Edinburgh meant I had to go and take a quick trip to the castle to take a photo of it. This happened on the Sunday; after nice fry up failed to clear my semi-hangover I decided to go for a nice long walk starting with Holyrood Park and a walk up Arthur’s Seat (oh er missus) and then ending at the castle.
I had to wait a while for this shot as there were a group of people stood at the corner of this wall where you see the fence in the middle of the frame and they seemed to be happy just to stand around chatting to each other for an age. Eventually they moved away and I grabbed this shot.
On my trip to Edinburgh I only had the Sony NEX-7 as I wasn’t going to be doing much photography there. I love the fact this camera is so light and small and so it can just fit into any bag that I’m carrying around.
This building was pretty close to my hotel up in Edinburgh (I stayed at the Apex Waterloo Place, thanks for asking. It was lovely, and had an amazing shower that attacked your body from 5 different angles. Plus there were some nice complimentary jelly beans).
It’s called St. Andrew’s House and is one of the three Scottish Government buildings in Edinburgh.
It was a Sunday when I took this, hence why the doors are closed I guess.
Another busy day ahead with a meeting shortly followed by a day offsite like yesterday. Hope everyone has a happy Thursday.
Today I’m heading out of London where I’ll spend a lovely long weekend in Edinburgh in celebration of Steve’s birthday. I’ll be leaving from Kings Cross, which is where this photograph was taken.
It was super busy the day I took this, on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago. I had just returned from Toronto on an overnight flight and decided to stop off here on my route home to get a burrito. I had the 8-15mm on and that allowed me to get so much of this scene in. Ideally I would have been stood 3 paces to the right, but several tables and people were in the way and, to be honest, I was too lazy and tired to deal with those kind of obstacles.
It’s a beautiful concourse and if you’re ever in London be sure to swing by and check it out…and pick up a burrito.
Have a great weekend everyone.
When in Toronto I met up with the lovely Edith Levy for an hour of photos in Graffiti Alley just off Spadina Avenue. Thank you, Edith, for taking the time out of your busy day to show me this location. You can see Edith’s shots from Graffiti Alley in her post ‘iPhone Friday – A Little Street Art‘ (you get a glimpse of me in that post also).
The last shot I took on that little excursion was not from the alley, but of a building we were passing. I often walk around looking skywards (it’s amazing I don’t trip up more than I do) and this building was just calling out at me to take the shot so I quickly snapped a few brackets, while I’m sure Edith took another glance at her watch as I made her become late(r) back to work. I’m glad I did though as I liked the end results.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – when in any location it’s worth looking up, but this is especially true when in a city.
Have a good weekend everyone.