Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hartford Metropolis from Colt

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Without us ever asking, our guide escorted us up a broad flight of wooden stairs and through a hatch in the roof, and in a few moments we stood beneath the Colt Dome with the city of Hartford in front of us. You see the closed hatch cover, lowered for shooting, in the foreground.

The image is a high resolution, stitched panorama made from 15 separate images. Usually one sets the tripod and shoots a sequence from one side to the other with 1/3 overlap, but the geometries were strange. Placing the towers of the Metropolis into the space of an opening between columns meant placing my tripod well off center under the dome. To include floor and ceiling I shot at 18mm, but unwrapping the panorama is a bit like flattening the globe into a Mercator projection.

I tried to visualize what the scene around me would look like when unwrapped and recalled a disastrous panorama attempt on the top of Cadillac Mountain at sunset in Maine. This time I shot a hasty sequence and then a bunch of extra “fill” shots so I’d have enough ceiling and floor. With a second chance, I’d be more methodical, but maybe not so lucky in the sky I’m granted.

Getting all the separate images stitched back together taxed the genius of Photoshop. Sometimes photoshop chose to join pieces where the shadow on the column makes a neutral gray. The consequence of this was that sometimes the railings butted the columns at random heights. In the end I discovered Photoshop very much appreciated having as much redundancy as I could give it, and when it was done I tugged on the corners with the skew and distort tools until I thought it looked right.