Under Sabine Street

f14, ISO100, 1/15s, 17mm, on a Canon 60D. HDR Pano with 5 images

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One of my go to places to take the camera in Houston, Texas, is the Buffalo Bayou Park, specifically the smaller Eleanor Tinsley Park area just to the immediate west of downtown. The proximity of the park to downtown really attracts me, as you can find beautiful little landscape spots along the bayou, then take very close up skyline shots of the city, like the one I shared Friday (here’s another link in case you need refreshing: link).

Just a little bit to the east of the camera is the elaborate interstate ramp system that Houston has become so well known for. Intertwining ramps going here, there and everywhere, all sporting the clean concrete look of ‘new’ construction. The first bridge spanning the bayou just west of the interstate is the Sabine St. Bridge, featured in today’s image. It’s old and barely used, but has a ton of character from the years of wear and tear it’s seen – in other words, much more interesting than the interstate bridges, at least to me anyways.

Don’t recall having walked under this bridge in my other visits to the area, but when I did Thursday afternoon, it was NECESSARY to photograph it. The combination of the old, wore concrete, the supports and pipes running down the center, the numerous shapes produced from the colliding lines of the structure, and the park-like setting in the warm sun on the north side of the bridge was quite beautiful to these eyes. But this was not an easy one to get.

First, the bank I’m sitting on to take the picture was pretty dog gone steep and a bit slippery, so getting up there and set up was a challenge, especially for a big boy like me. Once up there, getting square was a bit challenging, only because moving around was not easy. Lastly, the crop sensor on a 60D Canon would only grab a small portion of the bridge and the light contrast was too broad to get in one frame, so the decision was made to do an HDR panorama so that the entire scene could be gathered and that it was properly exposed.

Doing an HDR pano usually requires shooting each piece of the pano with the same camera settings, but this was somewhat of an experiment where I used the autodetect setup on Magic Lantern for each piece, which meant that the software detected the number of exposures to produce for each frame of the pano, so some had 5 and some had 4, etc. Strangely enough, when using the same tone map settings in Photomatix, all frames ended up with the same look. Pretty cool, and a bit lucky!

After the pano was stitched together in Photoshop Elements, the picture looked fine except the middle part was too far away and the distortion I was expecting did not show up, so I added it myself with the lens correction filter in Elements. It cut down the amount of scene in the picture, but emphasized the parts that I wanted, so it all worked out, at least for me it did!

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  • It looks oh so warm! No graffiti on any of that, I am impressed!

    • Jim

      It was 64F and yes, very, very clean! Thanks dude!

  • What, no snow?! I can see why a pano works well in this situation…great shot(s)! 🙂

    • Jim

      No snow in Houston Erin, although there was ice hanging from the trees the first day I got there. Didn’t last long thankfully! Thanks for the comments!

  • Fantastic shot Jimmy. I haven’t tried an HDR pano yet. I think I’ll have to get on it 🙂

    • Jim

      Go do it Edith! They’re a bit time consuming, but fun just the same! Thanks for the kind words!

  • Must admit, Jim there is something about the under side of bridges and piers and jetties. Nice pic.

    • Jim

      Thanks Fred and I agree!

  • The thought of an HDR Pano is a little daunting, I was going to say magic lantern did a good job here, but thinking about it YOU did a good job Jim.
    really liking this image, loads of conflicting lines darting about which works and I keep getting drawn back to the distortion you added, the horizon is near level but the lower bridge supports and river have that curve and I really like what that is doing.