Light Streams

DSC_3884_bw3In the course of the last week or two I’ve been pruning the archive. It’s a necessary task as hard disk space gets swallowed up. Images that no longer hold appeal or have been duplicated (or bettered) can be binned, and always lurking there in the long-forgotten past are images that have never seen the light of day and about which I now become curious – for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because, among all the others that I wanted to process, they sat at the back of the queue, and I never quite got round to them before newer images took priority; and in other cases I simply wasn’t sure of their merit and how to exploit them.

This image falls into the second category. I’m a sucker for light-paths, and staring directly into the light. This image was taken way back in 2009 in a hotel in Brighton (name forgotten). It had a vast high atrium at its centre with a series of roof lights through which light spilled, casting long highlights across the internal walls within which were layered windows of some of the hotel’s rooms. It wasn’t particularly strong in colour but when I quickly converted it a few days ago to B&W I saw it in a different light. And so I’ve spent some time processing it, and the more I look at it, the more I like it.

DSC_3884_bw2Deciding on the final ‘cropped’ image has been difficult. The headline image is more or less full frame – the original has been fine-tuned shall we say. But I am also a lover of symmetry and alongside here there is a thumbnail of a more symmetrical version. Which is best? My leaning is  towards the one at the top as I think the off-centre frame adds to the composition. But you may think differently…? Do make a comment.

Click on the images to see the full-size enlargement.

This was processed in Nik Silver Efex, a little bit of Posterization and finally it is a solarized image. Surprised to hear that? We tend to think of Solarization as being a bit wacky, but on many occasions it simply adds an additional level of contrast and ‘punch’ to an image. In Photoshop go to Filter/Stylize/Solarize.  The initial result will not look good – go to Levels and adjust the sliders and watch your image come to life. A slightly better result is obtained by using Curves. Click to highlight the pen icon to the left of the Curves window. Then hold down the Shift key and click in the bottom left corner of the Curves window, then the top of the middle of the window and finally the bottom right corner. Hold the shift key down throughout those three clicks. You will now have an inverted ‘V’ shaped curve. Click OK, and make subtle adjustments with Levels or Shadows/Highlights. Alternatively try creating a ‘W’ or ‘M’ shaped curve using the same technique just outlined. If you don’t like the way the tones are represented, try Inverting the tones and you may be surprised by the outcome. Experimentation is always great fun and it can be undone in a second – what’s to stop you trying it out?


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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21 Responses to Light Streams

  1. This is a very eye-catching image, Andy. It’s rather ambiguous to me: my eye can see the wall with windows as a patterned carpet or it can see it as a wall with windows.

    For the record, I prefer the off-center image. (I will almost always prefer off-center images. Not too sure what that says about the way I think, but it’s probably best if I don’t spend any time trying to figure it out!)

    • LensScaper says:

      It’s really rather odd to see windows in that large expanse of wall, isn’t it – although unless I had told you what they were you might well have thought they were textural elements. I’m pleased to hear you like the off-centre version, I think it helps to break up the patterning.

  2. My vote is for the top image, too. Probably I prefer it because its comparative irregularity appeals to me, though I can’t say why.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Linda. With images that have strong geometric lines I often prefer the symmetrical versions but there was something about the flow of this that made me prefer the asymmetric one.

  3. shoreacres says:

    Before thinking too much about the pair of images, I downloaded the top one, and cropped it to my taste. Imagine my surprise when I found it duplicated your second photo. The duplication is nearly perfect, too. So, even though I’m fond of asymmetry and do like that top photo, if it were mine and I were processing it, it seems it would look like the second. That’s pretty interesting.

    It doesn’t take much effort to see the patterning as carpet or tile. It’s a really interesting photo in that regard — almost an abstract.

    • LensScaper says:

      Great minds think alike? I do like symmetry but as I said a moment ago in reply to someone else there was something about the flow of light in this image that made me prefer the asymmetric version

  4. Sue says:

    I like the ambiguity of these, and I would go for the off-centre one myself….

  5. Len says:

    You have found wonderful patterns that are so enhanced by the light and shadows Andy. Great eye.

  6. Lynne Ayers says:

    What a great image, and processing. I go for the symetrical version, I think because everything in the photo is so sharp and precise and geometrical that it begs symmetry as well.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Lynne – I think the opinions are divided on this one, but you present a cogent argument for your choice. I’m a great lover of symmetry too.

  7. Chillbrook says:

    Fascinating image Andy. The value of going back and doing a bit of pruning cannot be under-estimated. It’s amazing what one can find the one has overlooked. This is a fine example!

    • LensScaper says:

      I sometimes think we don’t value our archive enough – you can learn a lot by looking back and noting how your eye has matured over time and seeing images that you can process better thanks to a deeper understanding of the software. So far I’m still working through 2009, quite a few more years to go, it will take quite some time!

  8. I agree with Melinda’s comment – extremely eye-catching. 🙂

  9. sixpixx says:

    It was like trying to get out of a maze as my eye kept following the white lines round and round. Definitely uncropped for me. Enjoyed that. Thank you.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for your comment and glad you liked it. This is one of those images that now, looking back, I wonder why I hadn’t processed before; but that was well before I started using Silver Efex and also understood how solarization could be employed to add extra impact without looking weird.

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