Urban life reflections

 
Hilde is always looking for things that fascinate her.  Through her images, she tries to tell stories that catch the viewer's attention.  She succceeded perfectly well to show urban life reflections in this abstract shot, titled "Two". Read how she expresses her feelings and impressions through her processing. 
 
  
Nikon D7000  .  Nikkor 12-24mm f/4  .  1/200 ss  .  f/16  .  ISO200
 
 
I noticed these two benches in the entrance hall of the Villa Méditeranée in Marseille, France, and tried to take an interesting picture of their reflection. I wanted the image to reflect urban life in general, so I decided to add people to it as well.  There was a lot of buzz and excitement in 2013 when Marseille, France, was selected as the European Capital of Culture. We decided to visit the city in June that year.

One of the new buildings in Marseille is the Villa Méditeranée, built in a wonderful location near the harbor and close to the Cathédrale de la Major (Marseille Cathedral). The Villa Méditeranée was designed by the architect Stefano Boeri. It is truly an extraordinary building, with spaces above and below the sea and a spectacular 130-foot (40 m) overhanging structure above an artificial pool. Supported by eight columns, the stainless steel structure stretches over the pavement to create a space for events in the city's Old Port. In the words of head designer Spencer de Grey: "The new pavilion is quite literally a reflection of its surroundings. Its lightweight steel structure is a minimal intervention and appears as a simple silver line on the horizon." The project is somewhat analogous to sculptor Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in Chicago, and I have no doubt it that will be a constant and huge attraction for tourists and locals alike. 

So when visiting Marseille, I certainly wanted to portray that building. I love minimalistic photographs and wanted to make something different from all the other photos on the internet. I decided to use these two benches and to incorporate our own reflections into the wall behind them.

"I wanted more people in the picture, so after some trial and error (and patiently waiting for a few passersby to fill the empty, white spaces) I was satisfied."

I first positioned myself in the middle of the reflection, but because I needed to shoot from a lower angle, I asked my husband to stand exactly between the two benches. I'm the one crouched down next to him. The light was perfect. I saw the reflection of the three bright squares on the left, and on the right a bright reflection on the floor created good balance. I wanted more people in the picture, so after some trial and error (and patiently waiting for a few passersby to fill the empty, white spaces) I was satisfied. I had to stay there for quite some time until I found the right composition, but all worked out very well in the end.
 
POST PROCESSING
I made basic adjustments in Lightroom, and then exported the image to Photoshop to make further adjustments. I also used Nik Silver Efex Pro plugin for a black and white conversion, as well as Nik Color Efex Pro 4 plugin to enhance the colors.

I always open my photographs in Lightroom and correct the RAW file a little bit to get a balanced histogram. 

In this picture I needed more contrast, but the floor drew too much attention. I switched over to Photoshop, made a new layer, and used Nik Silver Efex Pro to convert the layer into a beautiful black and white. 

I increased the Contrast and decreased the Structure a little bit. The blending mode for the black and white layer was set to Luminosity, and Opacity was decreased to 90%. Doing this allowed the black and white layer to mix nicely with the color layer beneath it.

In a Layer Mask, I used a Brush to paint the floor black. This prevented the additional contrast from affecting the floor. There was already enough contrast there, and I did not want to increase it.

To make the image softer, I used Color Efex Pro 4 to apply a Fog filter, and set the Opacity to 60%. I then made a Layer Mask. In the Blue Channel, I added the mask to the layer with fog. This prevented the red color in the benches from being altered. 

Back in Lightroom, I adjusted Whites to +62, Vibrance to –60 and Saturation to +56.

I returned to Photoshop to sharpen the image. I applied the the Unsharp Mask filter with a Radius of .5 and Amount of 100. 
 
TIPS
Tell a story with your picture: What is happening? What is it about? For me, the main idea of this image and the story I wanted to convey was the reflection of urban life in a very small world.
 
BIOGRAPHY
Photography is a form of release for me, and it's a means of communication as well. 
I am from Belgium. When I was a child, my father introduced me to photography. He taught me many tricks, but more than that, he instilled in me a passion for photography. For a long time, this hobby took up too much of my time, so eventually I limited myself to only taking pictures of my children. Now that I have more spare time, I have taken up my old passion. 

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