Sky Light Circles

Sky Light Circles. Buffalo New York. June, 2014
Sony A7r. Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 at 30mm
1/4 sec @ f/8. ISO 400


I have a fascination with abandoned buildings. The more decrepit the better. So does my good friend and business partner Kevin Raber, and so during a workshop in Buffalo N.Y. in summer 2014, we spent two days exploring abandoned grain silos and related buildings. What a treat. 

This image is one of my personal favourites from that shoot. It was late afternoon, and after wandering though a very large, empty and mostly uninspiring building, we turned a corner and found this fantasy-like room. Holes in the ceiling were casting overlapping circular highlights, while the rest of the room was in deep shadow.

The challenge was, of course, the extreme dynamic range between highlight circles and the deep shadows. A multi-exposure HDR would of course had been possible, but I decided that what I wanted to do was produce a print that came as close as possible to reproducing what my eyes saw at the time.

Raw File





My exposure strategy was to avoid blowing out the hottest highlight circles and to simply let the shadows fall where they may. From my experience with Lightroom I knew that I would have huge leeway in open the shadow if I wanted to. 

In fact, I could have retained much more shadow detail than I needed. Above is a variation with the Shadow slider all the way to the right. Just not what was in my mind's eye when I took the shot, nor what looked the way I wanted it to as I was processing. The shadows needed to stay just that – shadows, to create the feeling of mystery that I wanted.

Something to keep in mind when shooting and later working on an image, is to let your "feeling" for what you wish the shot to look like determine the end result, not to let the possible and available technical tools override your inner aesthetic sensibility.

100% crop


This image and its analysis may be discussed on the LuLa Forum