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Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

The Flatiron Building is quite a stunning piece of architecture but it's not the easiest of building to photograph well IMHO. It's a bit hemmed in so it's hard to get it evenly lit and then the traffic gets in the way if you're shooting from the pavement (and I've yet to find a publicly-accessible higher vantage point). On top of all that, basic shots of it can be a bit "sterile".

Here's one I took back in 2016. Sterile describes it quite well:


Flatiron building NYC by Paul Kaye, on Flickr


This was another one from the same occasion and I think it's much improved and gives a better sense of depth:


Flatiron Building, NYC by Paul Kaye, on Flickr


But I still think it's a bit lifeless.

This one from 2017 is a bit more extreme. Shot close and wide and on a tripod with live comp it's a bit different, but the light wasn't great (very overcast and late in the day) and whilst the streaks from the traffic are OK, the white streaks higher up (from passers-by) are a bit messy:


Flatiron Building by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

So, I thought I'd try again with a long exposure and without going so wide. The plan was almost ruined though since I forgot to take my tripod! However, I thought I'd try a trick I read about... I set the E-M1ii to do electronic shutter L burst and dialled in an exposure of 1/15s at f13 on ISO 64. I then took a burst of shots handheld for about 30s. I later stacked them in Photoshop using "Maximum" (effectively what live composite does). This is the result. I could have done with doing it for longer and getting smoother trails, but I think it still works:


Flatiron Lightstreaks by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

It's a good example I think of what Olympus cameras can do - the image stabilisation meant that not one of the 1/15s shots was anything other than pin-sharp and the electronic shutter meant I could fire off a sequence quickly and easily. Amazing tech really.

Anyhow - which (if any) do you prefer?
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Re: Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

I prefer the 2nd, with the last a close runner up.
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Re: Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

I agree with John, and I suspect the last would indeed have been improved with longer trails (and maybe a little later in the day so there’d have been more contrast and a deeper sky: probably have needed a tripod, though).

Really nice to see the images & think about them.
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Re: Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

They're all interesting in their own way. I think the 2nd is a good shot that really shows off the building.
The 3rd with the very wide angle has done something quite strange to the perspective.
Your latest effort is comfortably my favourite of the bunch. The dashed line lights are interesting of themselves.

Have you applied perspective correction to any of these as the top of the building looks bigger than the bottom - it's interesting in an "Inception" way?

I can see the building is a challenge unless you're prepared to go in the small hours with a tripod. I've been to NYC twice and never seen it, looking on Google Maps it looks like I never went far enough south on 5th Avenue, still there's always next time
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Re: Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

Nice technique Paul simulating live comp in PS. Didn't realise that was possible. It worked really well although that second shot is my overall favourite. It's an amazing building and well worth the effort.
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Re: Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

Thanks everyone.

@Phill_D - Live comp/PS. Actually, it's an interesting trick. All you need to do in PS is to load images into a stack and create "smart objects", then merge the stack using "maximum" blending. It's just the same as live comp. At capture time, you can rattle off as many shots as you like using any shutter speed you like. It's possible to do things that live comp can't do like handheld (because you align afterwards) and using shutter speeds faster than the 0.5s minimum that is the current limit in the camera.

@AMc - Yes, they've all been distortion corrected to keep the verticals vertical. It does have the side-effect of making the tops look bigger (even though they're not). I guess the brain is figuring out that something's wrong. Ideally, you need a shift lens to do it well (please Oly - can we have a tilt/shift lens?).

@drmarkf - I've toned down the brightness a bit. I think it improves the sky.

Thanks!
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Re: Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

#2 as well, but I also like #1. The streakof light on the left side gives them a nice warmth.
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Re: Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

Thanks for these Paul - really enjoyed taking my time viewing them and as usual learning much about technique.

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Re: Flatiron Building in NYC - evolution

Paul
Having been there and tried to photgraph the building with my 9-18 I know what you had to deal with.



The last is best and shows that we should try things out lets face what is there to lose by trying. Shooting from street level with an ultra wide lens is not easy.



I like the third the light is not the best but I also like the paople trails in it.


The second is quite nice and the better from 2016
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