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Pushing Things Further

Published July 15th, 2012

I've begun playing around with Black and White effects on my photos. My friend Tom has suggested pushing things even further, and has given me some tips on how to achieve certain effects in Photoshop.

What I like about Black and White is the ability to draw attention to certain aspects of a photo by removing unnecessary details (like, say, colour). Roland Shainidze has also been doing some amazing work in removing details from photos.

I am experimenting with taking things further than I have - to push the boundaries of what it means to be a photograph versus what it means to be art. I'm not terribly interested in keeping my photographs "pure" or anything, since I'm using photography as a means of creative expression.

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I shot this building just above Market Street, San Francisco. I didn't have my tripod with me, so it's a high-ISO shot on a camera that doesn't handle noise very well. There's a lot of lens flare and distractions around the building, too, but it was a fairly well-lit subject, so I was able to get away with a fairly quick shutter speed, so the photo isn't blurry.

  • 50mm / f/4.5 / 1/30 sec
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First thing I did was remove surrounding buildings on the left and top, as well as stamping out the lens flare. I want to give this building a feeling like it's some kind of crazy futuristic prison or other menacing symbol of dystopian government run amok.

Nothing I could do about the reflections from the adjacent building on the left side, but I kind of like the way they make this more than just a building.

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This is the University of Toronto Library that I shot with a tripod about 11pm. This was the best of 4 captures.

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No HDR or anything - just using some curves/levels effects on Photoshop. I've tried to bump up the detail on the building and reduce the overblown light at the top.

There's a soft light gradient overlay of some bananas fluorescent colours (pink and teal) to give it a kinda futuristic feel. This building kind of reminded me of some of the artwork in Final Fantasy VII's Midgar, and I wanted to make it look it's it's underlit by some kind of hazy diffused market of neon lights. I wanted to make this look like the administrative building on the edge of some slums.

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This capture came from Spadina, just below Front in downtown Toronto. The capture was done with a tripod with a reasonable exposure.

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I wanted to completely mask out the details of the buildings and the sky. The first thing I noticed when I brought some levels down was that the different windows were casting some high-constrast colours. I bumped up the colour levels on the high-end and this is what I got.

I didn't want this to look like a photo of some condo buildings; the buildings aren't the subject. This is a photo of the windows: the condos aren't even there anymore.

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