HDR with a little "Strobist" thrown in

East Gate-westate
Last Saturday evening, my friend Ron Wise and I did a little exploring on the campus of IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapois) for some HDR opportunities. I actually had an assignment from the University for some general photos of a few select campus buildings and some sculpture art on extended loan from museums.

One shot on my list was "East Gate/West Gate" a very large (about 25 feet tall) tubular structure that almost looks as though it could have been inspired by and M. C. Escher illustration. One of my acquaintances, who shall remain nameless, described it as "two ampersands in a coital entanglement." (Actually, that's a paraphrase on my part to avoid usage of a certain 4-letter verb which often doubles as an adjective.)

Anyway, where the client was no doubt visualizing a standard daylight photo, I wanted to explore this unique shape under night lights.

The result is at the top.

The building in the background is University Library, and an HDR image preserves detail in the lit interior as well as the exterior shadows. The metal of the sculpture did a good job of picking up the other light sources in the area, but with the camera still on the tripod, I added pops from a gel-ed Vivitar 283 to put some color into the image. Ron was pressing the shutter release and watching to be sure I didn't venture into the frame as I held a Pocket-Wizard-fired Vivitar 283. For these exposures, I used a much shorter shutter speed to capture mostly just the light from the flash and not a lot of ambient light.

I hit it from all four corners in separate exposures with both a red and blue gel, and also with a full CTO, which was effectively white light since my white balance was very close to Tungsten light. In post production, I layered two exposures with the blue gel at camera left and two with the red gel at camera right into a single image with the "Lighten" blending mode. This varied the colors from red to purple to blue. The flash image was layered over the HDR to impart the color onto the sculpture, again with the "Lighten" blending mode.

UPDATE: Here is an interesting video that gives a little information about the East Gate/West Gate sculpture, created by artist Sasson Soffer (1925-1973), and shows the process of moving it to it's current location by helicopter. It includes an interesting aerial tour of downtown Indianapolis.

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