The Light of the World – Under Construction

Continuing my series of images captured on last week’s photowalk along Grand Avenue in Phoenix AZ:

One of the most talked-about sites along Grand Avenue for the past year has been the construction project at the Light of the World church.   This Christian non-denominational church is building a new sanctuary with a domed roof to accommodate the larger crowds at their services.  The structure is clearly visible from Interstate 10, and people who were unfamiliar with the church were starting to get concerned that someone was building a mosque.  The church members, who are providing the volunteer labor to build the new sanctuary, were concerned about a possible backlash.  They had to erect signs on the side of the building, visible from the freeway, assuring the passers-by that they were, indeed, a Christian organization.  So sad that it has to be that way.

Anyway, when were were on our photowalk, I stopped to take some shots of the exterior of the building.  As I was trying to get a good angle to capture the golden flame scupture on top of the bell tower, we were approached by one of the young construction workers who asked if we would like to take some pictures.  I assumed that he was going to help me get a better angle on the flame, but instead he led us right back into the interior of the construction site.  I was really surprised that we were allowed to go inside, but I didn’t waste any time in shooting a series of bracketed photos from five or six different positions around the inside of the structure.

As I was shooting, I saw several other construction workers talking to Andy, and when I got back around to them I found that, sure enough, we really weren’t supposed to be in there.  I sure hope the young guy didn’t get into any trouble for bringing us in!  They were all very polite and informative, and they invited us to come back when the construction is done to see the results.  And I’m sure we will!

So, sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time….and here’s what I saw inside the unfinished dome:

Under Construction
Shot with my Nikon D5000, kit lens (18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6), tripod-mounted. HDR processed from three bracketed images in Photomatix, Paintshop Photo Pro X3 and Topaz Adjust/DeNoise. The orange “ghosting” on the stairs would be the project foreman coming down to talk to Andy about how we really shouldn’t be in there.  I decided to leave it in as a reminder!


The Trunk Space

Continuing my series of images taken on Grand Avenue in Phoenix:

Ok, this shot just makes me smile, and sometimes that’s what we all need. We had just started our photowalk on Saturday and were having lunch at Mel’s Diner when we started getting tweets about the horrific shooting that took place in Tucson. Needless to say, I lost my appetite for lunch and left the diner in a pissed-off but sad mood.

My mood improved somewhat when the early news reports that indicated that Congresswoman Gifford had died were proven false, but I was still reeling as we began our stroll down Grand Avenue. So many people killed and wounded–it was heartbreaking. We both kept checking our Blackberries for the latest information.

Gradually the beautiful sunshine, the companionship of a great hubby/photo assistant, and this mural brightened my mood. I’m still sick about what happened in Tucson, but I’m heartened that the events, horrific as they are, have sparked national conversation about civility and finding ways to end violence. We’re a long way from solving our problems, but if we all get together and laugh more often, that might help, don’t you think?

The Trunk Space

The Trunk Space – for more information click here! It’s too weird for me to try and describe!

The Chocolate Factory

Continuing my series on Grand Avenue in Phoenix AZ:

Yes, this is my second post of the day, but I don’t think I’m going to have time to post anything before I have to leave for work in the morning.

The area along Grand Avenue just northwest of downtown Phoenix is experiencing a slow but steady renaissance. A lot of the old abandoned buildings are being converted into art spaces, boutiques and small cafe’s. It’s still very much a work in progress, and it was pretty much deserted when we were there on Saturday. But at least the area is getting spruced up and it looks much more interesting now.

One of the challenges I faced was trying to capture the facades of the buildings without having a true fish-eye lens. I couldn’t step back far enough from the building to capture the facade square-on without standing in the street. If I had crossed to the other side of the street and shot from there, the sun would have been right in the lens–no good. So most of the architecture shots were like this one, taken from an angle. It creates some perspective issues, but it is what it is. I don’t mind it myself, but those purists out there might have a problem with it.

So here’s The Chocolate Factory, which we thought was a candy shop but is actually a gallery. Just up the street is Smith Radiator Exchange, which we thought was a bar but is actually a garage. Things are not always what they appear on Grand Avenue:

The Chocolate Factory
HDR created from three bracketed photos (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise with Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

Graffiti or Mural?

Today’s post is a colorful one. When exploring Grand Avenue in Phoenix, we found this wall surrounding a parking lot, and it was covered by a really cool mural. Now, I’m not sure where graffiti crosses the line to mural or vice-versa, but this one didn’t seem to have been created by kids on skateboards. Today’s shot reveals only a small portion of the entire scene, but I’ll post more later.

I really liked this particular section, because it seemed to have some humor to it. It was in a corner where trash and debris had collected. The mural seemed to be expressing disgust at the trash lying just below it. (This one also says a lot about how I feel about Mondays!!) 🙂


This is an HDR created from three bracketed shots (-2.0/0.0/+2.0), processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing was done in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise, and Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

Put Me Down!

While on our photowalk along Grand Avenue yesterday, we stopped at the Paisley Violin Cafe for a little liquid refreshment. The Paisley is an eclectic little art, music, wine, beer and food establishment that caters to the downtown arts scene. Its another one of those hidden gems that you must get out of your car and use your feet in order to fully appreciate.

When we walked around to the back patio, we found a little courtyard surrounded by tiny little art cottages, an outdoor bar, some art objects on display, and some colorful characters sitting around chatting and enjoying the beautiful day. I certainly recommend that you check this place out if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

Here’s a shot of one of the “art” pieces that was on display behind the Paisley:

Put Me Down!

I shot the images for this HDR hand-held in three brackets (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) and processed them in Photomatix v4. My post-processing was done in Topaz Adjust (using one of my custom presets) and Topaz DeNoise. I then used the Paintshop Photo Pro X3 Curves tool to adjust exposure, and then used the Saturation and Sharpening tools to make final tweaks.

Such a fun place!

I also have to give a shout out to the HDR Cookbook for all the great tips on HDR processing. I’ve adjusted my workflow over the past week using some of the tips in this blog, and I think the final images I’m producing are so much better as a result. I highly recommend this blog for those who are HDR fans or who want to learn the process!

Graffiti on the Caboose

I had a fantastic time today shooting up and down Grand Avenue between downtown and about Glendale Avenue. I’ve driven along this road many, many times, and it’s without a doubt one of the ugliest stretches of roadway in the Phoenix area. It runs parallel to the railroad, so there’s a lot of industry in the area, along with scrap metal dealers, auto-repair shops, strip clubs, and welding shops. But once you get out of your car and start to walk around, looking at the area with fresh eyes, you find a bounty of great photography subjects. Plus, the closer you get to downtown, the more you find little shops and galleries that have been opened in once-abandoned buildings…quirky for sure, but ripe for the camera.

I came home with so many great shots, that it’s tempting to just sit at the computer and process them all at one time. But I’m going to try to stick to my new resolve to take my time processing my shots, and share them slowly.

So here is my first offering from today’s shoot. I’ve seen this caboose sitting near Grand Avenue for months (years?), but today I finally drove around until I found a way to get to it (off of Camelback Road, if you’re interested.) I was using a new polarizing filter, and unfortunately it had some debris on it that I didn’t notice while shooting, but I still think this came out amazingly well. This is an HDR processed from three bracketed exposures (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) using Photomatix v4, and then post-processed using Topaz Adjust/DeNoise and Paintshop Photo Pro X3. I finally got back into the habit of using my tripod, and it made a big difference on the sharpness of the final product.


And, oh yeah, I’ve got lots more like this!!