Sumner House (1887) is the oldest home in Claremont, California. This Queen Anne Victorian was the home of Reverend Charles Burt Sumner, once of the founders of Pomona College. The house was moved to its current location, First Street and College Avenue approximately ten years after construction and serves as the anchor point of the southern perimeter of the college. The home is owned by Pomona College and it is now used as a guest house for the college.
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I think it is never too late to go back and revisit images that have been previously captured and processed and bring a new perspective to the images based upon the passage of time and my own growth as an artist. I was happy with my last rendering of the Hale House image last July because I had achieved a personal milestone in processing tools and techniques in the rendering of that HDR image as described in that blog posting. Since that time I have been exploring more and more with tools and techniques that result in my images rendering in a decided painterly style.
In the case of this image, I did turn down the Clarity slider in Lightroom and brought up the Vibrance slider, and after sharpening and noise reduction then moved the image in to Photoshop and used Topaz Simplify to remove detail and soften textures, and add some definition to edges; then copied that layer and applied Simplify again. I applied final touches back in Lightroom. My goal in applying the painterly effects and amping up the color saturation and brightness is to defeat any perception of this being a documentary photograph and to allow the viewer’s mind to fill in any blanks in terms of the story this image might tell or feelings it might evoke.
Prior to capturing the image of the “Heritage Boxcar” that I posted this past Monday, I captured a few sets of brackets of the Hale House at Heritage Square, Los Angeles. The Hale House was constructed in 1887 in the Queen Anne and Eastlake styles by George W. Morgan who was a land speculator and real estate developer. The house was moved from its original location to a second location and changed hands a number of times before being purchased by James Gl Hale. Hale lived in the house a few years until he separated from his wife Bessie. After the separation Bessie Hale retained title to the house and lived in it until her death in a rest home in 1967, and ran the house as a boarding home for much of that time. The house was donated to the Cultural Heritage Foundation by Bessie Hale’s heir in 1970 and it was moved to its current location.
I have to say I am fairly proud of this image, I think it demonstrates that I have made some more progress practicing my HDR techniques. I started by mounting the Nikon D7000 on a tripod with the 18-135mm lens and with my Promote Control interfaced to the camera. I had Judy hold up a gray card in front of the house for one shot. I fired off a few sets of seven brackets (-3 EV to +3 EV) with slightly varying perspectives on the house and converted the camera raw files to DNG in Lightroom. Initially in the Lightroom Develop module I used the automatic color correction tool to key on the gray card and set the proper color setting on all the files, and I also used the automatic lens correction tool to correct any distortion. I exported the selected seven brackets to Nik’s HDR Efex Pro and applied one of the Realistic pre-sets which I then tweaked, then I converted to TIFF and sent the image file back to Lightroom. I then opened the HDR TIFF file and the middle bracket (-0-) DNG file in Photoshop. I then used layer masking to overlay the top of the chimney and the sky from the middle bracket to correct the top of the chimney which was blown out in the HDR and to replace a halo-ed sky with a clean sky. I also used content aware fill in Photoshop to remove a water faucet, garden hose, and some scattered cinder blocks from the lawn in front of the house. Back in Lightroom I made a slight crop to remove some of the gravel foreground, sharpened and applied minimal noise filtering.