Downtown Phoenix – City Hall, the Orpheum and HFPC

This will probably be my last post of the shots of downtown Phoenix that I took last weekend, although I have a few more that I’ll play around with for my own enjoyment and practice. I spent a little more time on processing tonight, trying to get the best results for this shot:

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This is Phoenix’s City Hall building.  On the afternoon that I took these pictures there was just enough breeze to cause the flags to be waving slightly.  When I combined the three bracketed images together in Photomatix, I checked the option to have it attempt to reduce ghosting, but there was still some noticeable ghosting around the flags when the image was processed.  I made an attempt to use layers in Paintshop Pro X3 to clean it up, and it didn’t turn out too badly as long as you don’t blow it up to 200% and really start looking for the evidence.  This is an area that I need a lot more practice in.  I just bought a book “PaintShop Photo Pro X3 for Photographers” by Ken McMahon, and I’m hoping to get some good instructions on how to use some of the advanced features of PSP to improve all my photographs, not just the HDR’s.

The next two shots were a little easier since they didn’t have anything waving around in front of them. 🙂

This is the Orpheum Theatre, which just happens to be right next to the City Hall building (that’s it in the background).  I really like the juxtaposition of the two entirely different styles of architecture in this shot:

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And finally, this is the bell tower on the Historic First Presbyterian Church (yes, “Historic” is part of the church’s name).  This church just happens to be located next door to the shell of the First Baptist Church that I’ve featured in my last two posts.  However, this church is still active….in fact, as we were standing across the street setting up the tripod for pictures, one of the ministers invited us to their afternoon service:

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So, this ends our photo tour of the architecture of downtown Phoenix, Arizona. At least until the next time I decide to spend a Sunday afternoon in the city!

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Downtown Phoenix – Fire, Water, Peace and Justice

Tonight’s post is another group of HDR images from last Sunday’s photo walk around downtown Phoenix.  It’s quite a variety, so let’s get started.

This first image is from the front of the historic First Baptist Church on Monroe Street (the same building where I shot the bell tower that was featured in the previous post).  This is the front wall of the sanctuary that at one time held stained glass, but during the fire of 1992, it was destroyed.  I took this photo from about the fifth floor of a parking garage directly across the street, using a 75-200 zoom lens.  You can see right through the openings in the window, all the way to a billboard on a building across the street on the next block:

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This next image is a fountain located on the plaza in front of Phoenix City Hall.  It was a pretty popular place on a warm autumn day, with several couples shooting snapshots of each other as they posed in front of the waterfall.  I had to shoot quickly while no one was around.  I think I got this one a little too dark when I processed it, so I may have to go back and try it again:

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This next image is St. Mary’s Basilica, a beautiful structure that was built in 1881 and still celebrates Mass daily.  Anyone who has spent a little time in downtown has heard the bells of St. Mary’s as they chime on the hour:

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And finally, this is an image of the Maricopa County Court House building, rendered in HDR.  It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places:

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I don’t care how energy-efficient and high-tech our new office buildings and churches are, they just can’t compare with the beauty and dignity of these older structures.  Even after a fire, the shell of First Baptist Church still impresses with its intricate architectural details.  How many of our glass-and-steel buildings of today will still be impressive a hundred years from now, even without a fire?

Each of these images was created from a bracketed series of three photos (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) taken with my Nikon D5000. I used Photomatix Pro v3 to produce the HDR image, and then post-processed in Paintshop Pro X3 to tweak the brightness and contrast, and I used the Curves tool to modify the color balance slightly.

Downtown Phoenix Architecture Old and New

Tonight I have three more HDR images from my photo walk in downtown Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend.

This first image is the bell tower at the historic First Baptist Church on Monroe Street.  The church was built in 1929, and it was gutted by fire in 1992.  The interior of the church is gone, but the shell still stands, including this bell tower.  It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, and the owners of the property are trying to pitch it to investors as a future art space of some kind.  Fortunately, there is a parking garage right across the street from the tower, and by climbing up about five or six floors, I was able to get almost eye-level with the top of the tower, avoiding any perspective issues with shooting the tall tower from ground level:

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This next image is the the back of the Orpheum Theatre (on the right) where it intersects with the side of Phoenix City Hall (on the left).  I know that there’s a perspective issue on this shot–since it was taken from ground level with the camera pointed up, the buildings look like they’re leaning into each other.  I thought about trying to correct it, but decided that I kind of like the compositional aspects of the way the buildings appear to be huddling together.  I think there’s a lot of geometrical interest that would be lost if I corrected the perspective on the shot:

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And finally, here’s a shot of the newly expanded downtown Phoenix Convention Center.  I really love the multi-color stone facing on the building, as well as the angles of the walls.  I also like the way the glass of the overhead pedestrian walk reflects a nearby sign–I didn’t notice that detail when I was taking the shot:

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Each of these images was created from a bracketed series of three photos (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) taken with my Nikon D5000 and the kit lens (18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6) at F/13.  I used Photomatix Pro v3 to produce the HDR image, and then post-processed in Paintshop Pro X3 to tweak the brightness and contrast, and I used the Curves tool to modify the color balance slightly.

Hope you enjoy these images from a very warm October day in downtown.  I’ll be sharing more as the days pass.