Sniffing out the shot
I was working in Staines (Ali G Massive!!) and on the regular run to Windsor, I kept seeing this monument, with it's twin on the other side of the road. I was determined to work out a shot and one day when I was passing, it so happened that the light looked promising. So I pulled over and hopped out to take a wander around, looking things over and searching for a viewpoint that worked for me.
As a by-the-way, for a long time I thought they were old toll houses but when I got up close, I realised they were some kind of a memorial. Later searching online turned up that they were designed by Edwin Lutyens, as a memorial to Broughton, sometime member of parliament and their form is known by the architectural term "kiosk and pier".
Knock, knock, anyone home?..or I can be blind sometimes!
Anyway, as I checked out various angles, tried different points of view on this one and its twin, it began to dawn on me just how surreal the whole scene was. Those unusual buildings and stonework, set in their expanses of freshly manicured lawns in the middle of nowhere—no habitation within view, just trees on this side and fields on the other; all a bit, well, weird.
What really brought it home to me was the dramatic sky and the way the light fell across the scene—I felt almost like I was witnessing some vignette from "Alice through the Looking Glass". So, that's the objective I set myself, somehow to get that feeling into the shot.
Capturing its essenceI tried some up close, concentrating just on the architecture, and some from further away to take in the whole scene. I tried to get both twins in the shot but the road and a railing in between wouldn't play ball. So of the dozen or so shots I took, this is the one I thought underlined it most of all and so was a definite for processing.
Digital DarkroomOnce there, I gave it a mild HDR treatment—but with a fairly heavy hand on the contrast. Next steps were to try to convey what I'd seen/felt "in the flesh". So, as a push towards the surreal, I gave it an infra-red feel by accentuating the yellows during the b&w conversion.
At the same time, I was real careful with the reds, so as to drag out as much tonal range in the stonework and clouds as I could—it was a bit of a juggle to make sure no highlights got blown, and all the while maintaining that other-worldly feel, but I kept a careful eye on the histogram as I went, to guide me.
A low-ish opacity soft-light layer, erased in the centre with a huge, soft-edged eraser, gave it the finishing touches.
What do you think, did I capture its essence? Do you like it, or is it not for you?
comments / critique / feedback / casual thoughts / praise (!)—all welcome as usual :)