Archive for the ‘graffiti’ Tag

School’s Out, Bigthes!   6 comments

School's Out, Bigthes!


I suppose whoever painted the end wall might have been served by staying in school a bit longer.

Where I live, we don’t get a chance to shoot “Urbex” very often, as Rural best defines this area. I’ll admit to a bit of professional jealousy when I see photos from my friends shooting in cities, abandoned warehouse and mills, and other places that demand a backpack full of Purell hand sanitizer.

Well, I found one. Even here.

I was returning from a shoot recently when I noticed a dilapidated complex of buildings just off the road, but mostly hidden behind overgrown foliage. I went back to investigate. It was an old elementary school with a perfect setup: All doors were off their hinges; there wasn’t a single No Trespassing sign to be found; and I had my good, heavy boots on.

Mad respect for my Urbex friends. This stuff isn’t easy. Inside, there were many hazards to avoid. In places it was pitch-dark. And I was alone. When you go through a place like this, it’s about more than finding interesting angles and vignettes – it’s a mood, a creepy feeling of the lives and experiences that were once here. Every little sound causes a bit of a shiver up the spine. Then you start thinking… Is there something here I don’t want to see? What if a rat nibbles on me? What compelled vandals to trash this place?, the fun of breaking stuff, or an utter hatred for their school-prison?

I left the building and was bathed with bright sunshine and fresh air. Enough creep in one day for an Urbex rookie.


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BEWARE – An HDR Collaboration Project   9 comments


Time for another round of the HDR Collaboration project! This time, the brackets were hosted by Mark “Silent G” Gvazdinskas, but since he doesn’t yet have a blog, I offered to put his results here. Mark promised us all a free puppy if we hosted him. Personally, I like Black Labs.

If this is your first time visiting the HDR Collaboration project, in each round one contributor provides a set of image brackets to the group, and we apply our personal sense of style in post-processing. As we usually see in the results, there is a wide range of ‘personality’ that can be applied to a given image. A good image is created in post-processing in equal measure to the importance of composition, lighting, lens choice, and other factors, and it’s always fascinating to see how others ‘see’ the same picture.

Each photographer represented here has a body of work that speaks volumes to their talents. Please be sure to visit their pages, galleries, and blogs by clicking the links associated with each name.

So, Mark Gvazdinskas presents the following, but…. do BEWARE :


“Welcome to this installment of the HDR Collaboration Project!  This is my first time hosting brackets and second time participating—what an incredible opportunity it is to be working with these talented photographers. The usual suspects took part in this round: Mike “TheaterWiz” Criswell, Jim DenhamJacques “FotoFreq” GudéRob Hanson, Bob LussierMark Garbowski, and myself, Mark Gvazdinskas.

The images start with my own version so here goes:

BEWARE by Mark Gvazdinskas

“I don’t know about everyone else but I had a heck of a time with this set. I’ve shot this area in Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, several times and have only once lucked out with sun. Naturally, that day I didn’t have the fisheye. Knowing this particular day would be foggy (in SF, GET OUT) I still made the trip up the winding road to grab this entire abandoned WWI/II bunker with the Nikkor 10.5mm/f2.8 Fisheye lens. I stood with my back to the corner and fired away — the bunker is maybe 10x10ft and the fisheye was the only way to grab all the tags and windows without pano gear. The fog made this especially tough as there truly wasn’t much background to work with, but rest assured this is one of the most rugged and gorgeous coastlines you’ll ever stumble upon (which is why I find the BEWARE tag to be so fitting) — views will take you all the way up Highway 1 to Muir and Stinson Beaches and leave the lonely Pacific Coast Highway trailing off in the distance. I personally love the eerie, foggy days in Marin Headlands. You can’t see the bridge but you know it’s there and all you can hear beyond the crashing waves is the bellow of a horn from Point Bonita Lighthouse — it feels like Shutter Island.

I used all the available brackets, put them through Photomatix 4.0, then into Lightroom 3 for some tweaking. Naturally Color Efex Pro and Focal Point 2 came into the mix, but only a couple layers since the background didn’t have much more than fog and an undetermined horizon.

I hope everyone had a good time with this set and thanks again for letting me share!”

BEWARE by Mark "Silent G" Gvazdinskas


BEWARE by Mike “Theaterwiz” Criswell:

“Thanks for the great brackets Mark aka Silent “G”, fun to play with for sure. This is actually a second version after I butchered the outside scene in the first by mistake. I ran all 9 brackets through Photomatix then started throwing all kinds of filters at the image, I think I started over 3 times in the process. Athough I had too many tweaks to even keep track of most everything was done in Topaz, I even used a hint of the new B&W effects plugin. I wanted to give the weird Alien art a presence and I wanted the inside of the bunker to have a nice warm glowing feeling without taking away from the foggy goodness of the outside scene. Thanks again for the brackets “G””

BEWARE by Mike "Theaterwiz" Criswell


BEWARE by Jim Denham:

“Thanks to Mark “Silent G” for supplying the brackets and to Rob for hosting this round of the collaboration project! Love this scene and how it really is two scenes in one – The graffiti covered building interior and the beautiful coastal scene on the exterior! Good stuff.

I focused on two things, the ‘Beware’ writing above the window on the right because it was the title of the image, and the scenic outdoors. Made a selection of the outdoor panels in order to edit them separate from the indoors. Darkened up the outside a bit and added some saturation, along with some sharpening. To the inside, I applied the Spicify preset from Topaz, then dodged the ‘Beware’ letters to make them standout a bit while darkening up the rest.”

BEWARE by Jim Denham


BEWARE by Jacques “Fotofreq” Gudé:

“Man, Silent “G”, what a great set of brackets.  Used to be I did not care for graffiti in URBEX environments, but I suppose I’ve come to appreciate some of the cool wall art out there.  In this shot, I really dug the ‘Beware’ graphics, together with that cool green dude, which is why I tried to accentuate those elements.  To process this one, I used only  seven of the brackets, dumping the darkest two.  After running those seven brackets through Photomatix, I pulled the resulting tone-mapped canvas into Photoshop CS5, together with the 5 lightest original bracketed shots.  After masking in the parts I needed to get the base look I envisioned, I used several of Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters, as well as Nik’s Viveza 2 to finish things off.  As always, my Wacom Intuos 4 tablet was indispensable in my post-processing.  Thanks a million for letting me work this set, Mark!”

BEWARE by Jacques "Fotofreq" Gudé


BEWARE by Rob Hanson:

“Thanks for the great set of brackets, Mark!

I found this to be an interesting subject. As I looked at the elements, it seemed that there were only a few ways to go, as the surroundings are fairly straightforward — no mysterious stairways, no dark secrets, no creepy asbestos hanging from the ceiling. Then I realized that my approach would lay in balancing the interesting, grungy interior with the sublime scenic view outside. Too much or too little in either direction would yield an unrealistic balance.

My result is based, then, on HDR Express and 32 Float, programs which render color well and provide a very realistic result. Float allowed me to create several 32-bit layers — one for the base, one to highlight the exterior, and one for the interior, masking in and out along the way. Once I had the overall balance where I wanted, I boiled the file down to 16-bit and went off in other directions.

In addition to bringing out the details and knocking down saturation in some areas, I used warming and cooling filters and dodging/burning to lead the eye where I wanted it to go — past the blue man and out the door.  I also took out some of the severe fisheye effect without removing it altogether… it just seemed a bit too bendy at first. Finally, I used my super-secret-patented* de-fringing technique to get rid of some obvious magenta fringe around the doorways. (* It’s no secret at all.)  In all, I had about 25 different layers during processing.

I really enjoyed processing this set, as it provided a unique challenge in balancing two disparate elements — the landscape view and interior grunge. Very interesting…”

BEWARE by Rob Hanson


BEWARE by Bob Lussier:

“Mr G, this is awesome. I’ve only been to the Bay area once. This image makes me want to go back and explore. I kept to a relatively straightforward processing style for this. After running the brackets through Photomatix, I used a couple of filters in onOne’s PhotoTools suite. Just a touch of Blue Dawn Leonidas and some sharpening. I reversed the mask on the sharpening layer and removed the effect on the outdoors portion of the image. I wanted to make sure the interior maintained a crusty, grungy feel, in contrast to the slightly soft outdoors.”


BEWARE by Bob Lussier

BEWARE by Mark Garbowski:

“These brackets nearly broke me. I don’t think it was anything inherent to the brackets. I think it was me, but the difficulty was real.

In my first attempt, I tried using the outdoor window views from one original bracket while heavily modifying the interior. It just ended up a chaotic, ugly mess with lots of halos and chromatic aberrations.

I’m still not in love with this result but I am at least satisfied with it. I applied the Tea Stained filter from On One to the Interior, then added the following Nik filters to the entire image: Pro Contrast, Skylight, and Brilliance/Warmth (with slider set to slightly cool). The last two filters somewhat counteract each other but I prefer the result to how it looks without either one applied. Go figure.

Finally, I added a lens correction in Photoshop because I personally was distracted by the curved doors and windows.

Silent G: I don’t think you meant it to be this hard but as it stands you challenged me and in the end i enjoyed it. Thanks.”

BEWARE by Mark Garbowski


Thanks for your entries, gentlemen. See you for the next round.







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