The Reflections of Unseen Clouds: Trying to Get the Picture Right (Weekly Photo Challenge: Light)


Good Morning:

This represents the latest in a series of posts devoted to my fumbling bumbling stumbling tumbling experiments in trying to edit flawed but potentially decent photographs. I observed a beautiful phenomenon when walking past the Nema Apartments (NEw MArket?) construction project and took a pair of shots from different locations in an effort to record it. First, the unedited raw material.

DSCN0239 DSCN0241

I should start by pointing out that the upper picture demonstrates a flaw that I like (!) in my Nikon S9100 point-and-shoot. See how the buildings on the left and right edges “lean” into the picture? That distortion is a weakness in the camera, but sometimes I rather appreciate the results.

Both shots have different lighting problems: the first is too dark; the second is too light. This won’t constitute the last I post where I write this, but exterior photography San Francisco presents a lot of challenges because of the intense and sharp lighting and shadows. So as usual, I had to edit. I’ll begin with the second one.


Using iPhoto settings, I selected the following: Exposure -0.25, Definition 100, Highlights 10, Shadows 35, Sharpness 100. The result becomes much truer to what I had seen, but the location where I stood does not do justice to the phenomenon I wanted to capture. I picked the wrong place to stand.

The other one turned out better.


Exposure 0, Definition 60, Highlights 15, Shadows 30, Sharpness 70. The blue sky is slightly more intense than in real life, but it helps capture what I really want to show: the clouds in the background seem to be visible through the building! Look especially closely at the right half of the construction project. Of course, this is an optical illusion–we see the reflections of unseen clouds in the building windows (and isn’t “The Reflections of Unseen Clouds” the awesomest title of something?! You know, like a blog post?).

I’ve published a similar optical illusion in Merge: Building & Reflection. I would have liked to capture the entire crane in this shot, but that was impossible, and this picture turned out satisfactorily.

Vonn Scott Bair

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