Saturday, January 23, 2010

Venus of SLAM #2

The bronze statue in the main hall of the St. Louis Art Museum presents a number of photographic technical challenges.  First, it is lit by mix of daylight and tungsten that can't be neutralized.  Second, the statue is very dark.  It is hard to see detail with the naked eye.  Finally, tripods are not allowed in the museum (without special arrangements), so multiple exposures for HDR assembly is not a viable option.
Grayscale conversion is an easy fix to the mixed light condition.  To pull out shadow detail in the film days, we'd pick a long toe film, use a filter to adjust tonal contrast, expose for the shadows, shorten development time and do some fancy dodging on a #3 paper.  Here I've done the digital equivalent in Nik Silver Efex Pro.  I started with the Ambrotype style, applied the blue filter to darken the warm walls relative to the bronze, and added a new film stock based on the old Kodak Super XX emulsion.  In this version, I'm trying for an early 1930's Art Deco feel.

Technical: Nikon D700, Nikkor 180mm f2.8, ISO 1600,  WB - Tungsten, f/3.2 @ 1/200s, handheld.  RAW file processed in Lightroom 2.6, noise reduction in Nik Dfine, monochrome conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

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