The Armadillo

By YPBlog

the armadillo

I do a lot of landscape photography. Most of my photography trips involved driving out for the location. This also means dragging myself up when everyone else is still dreaming or coming home late after the sunset.

Apart from landscape, I also enjoy architectural photography. In fact, one of my ambitions as a child was to become an architect. But that didn’t happen 🙁

When I see a building with amazing design, I would naturally point my camera at it and press the trigger. The result is often a mediocre image because I wasn’t thinking. I took the image because “it’s a nice building”.

Recently, I’ve been thinking to myself –  why not start photographing buildings properly?

Now, how proper is properly?

Instead of pointing and shooting mindlessly, I should pay attention to the light and image composition. I want to capture the shapes, the geometry of the building that attracted my attention in the first place.

I did research on architectural photography and read many articles on it. One particular post was the complete guide to long exposure photography by Joel Tjintjelaar.

It just makes so much sense, at least to me. Long exposure in monochrome seems like the perfect answer to my question. The absence of colour helps viewers to focus on the subject, the architecture itself.

I was also very intrigued with the idea of creating a dynamic background against a static subject by dragging the exposure down with a 16-stop ND filter.

Like an icing on a cake, Tony Kuyper published a post on Infinity Monochrome later on. In this article, he explained how he used Infinity Masks to convert colour images to black and white. The example images he posted really inspired me to attempt architectural photography in monochrome.

 

The Armadillo (SECC)

clyde river side
The Armadillo, second building from the left

Formally, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC). Also known as the Armadillo due to its shape viewed from the side. It’s one of the contemporary, iconic buildings in Scotland.

I’ve spent a good 5 years in Glasgow and I have not taken a photo of it.

It’s one of those things where you keep postponing your visit because you’re staying so close to it. Does that make sense at all?

I re-visited Glasgow recently after I left the city about 5 years ago. I told myself even before I go that I must visit the Armadillo this time, and I did!

This image above (the colour one) was taken the day before and I realised I should have one just for the Armadillo.

Checked the time for sunrise, got up early the next morning and walked down to the riverside.

I wanted to find an angle to capture the unique design of the Armadillo. In the end, I setup my tripod right in front of The SSE Hydro (the second building from the right, next to the crane). I was looking at the Armadillo from the side at about 45 degrees of an angle.

The wind was strong and the clouds were moving fast. I looked at the direction of the clouds moved and tried to picture how the image would look in my mind. There were lamp post and satellite dishes on the left and I thought of cloning it out in post-processing.

I took a bracketed exposure and 2 long exposures with the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest 16.

Technical Information For The Long Exposure Image

Focal length: 35mm
Aperture: f/11
Shutter speed: 300s
ISO: 100
Focus: Manual

 

Post-Processing

long exposure armadillo

Both images have good histogram with mainly midtones and no highlights or shadows clipping.

I chose the first image for post-processing because I thought the second image has too much cloud. This is just my own opinion and I’m sure some of you might disagree.

 

Here are my steps:

  1. Remove chromatic aberration and lens profile corrections in Adobe Lightroom and export it to Adobe Photoshop.
  2. Clone out the lamp post and satellite dishes on the left with the clone stamp tool.
  3. Levels adjustment via luminosity masks to highlight the clouds.
  4. Levels adjustment via luminosity masks to reduce the brightness of the roof.
  5. Dodge and burn via luminosity masks to further accentuate the clouds.
  6. Applied Camera Raw Filter to increase clarity and open up the shadows in the glass window.
  7. Convert the image to black and white with TK Infinity Mask. Did this for the sky and the building separately, and blended both together.
  8. Added a High Pass filter.
  9. Added a vignette to the foreground and both lower corners of the image.
  10. Used Nik Dfine2 for noise removal. Saved and re-imported back to Adobe Lightroom.
  11. Sharpening and added a subtle split toning.

 

 

Afterthought

This is my first attempt in using TK’s Infinity Masks to create black and white image. I quite like how easy it is to use to create the effect I like. I’ll definitely experiment it more to see where it brings me.

The Infinity Masks is quite intuitive once you understood how the panel works. The new panel comes with video instructions by Sean Bagshaw that will teach you everything you need to know.

You can click here to learn more about Infinity Masks and how it may help you in your post-processing.