Charles Lanteigne Photo

Stadium Tower

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The temperature was nice that March evening, so I decided to bring my camera for a walk. I had nothing specific in mind, just the hope that I'd capture some nice architectural photography, would I be inspired by what I found.

The Stadium's Tower, framed in a way we rarely see it.

Since I happened to be shooting the Olympic Stadium, I wanted to go for different angles, different compositions we'd rarely seen, because this structure had been shot so many times.

A nice glow on the stadium, just before sunset.

On these outings, I typically bring my camera with a 24mm TS lens, mounted on a tripod. I use a hot-shoe mounted bubble level to quickly get an initial position, but I somehow often feel the need to tweak the angle a bit. I frame my shot roughly with the viewfinder (which is made simpler by using a grid on the focusing screen), and then I use LiveView to adjust the focus precisely (with the zoom feature) and finalize the framing (the viewfinder tends to crop ever so slightly the edges of the frame).

To maximize the quality of the files I get, I shoot raw files exposed to the right. If the contrast range of the scene is such that I would lose too much shadow detail by preserving the highlights, I also capture brighter exposures that I will blend in post. I shoot at the lowest ISO (100), which usually means shutter speeds too slow to hand-hold (but I would always use a tripod anyway, as it makes precise framing so much easier, especially when using lens adjustments).

To get the sharpest images,

  • I use a small enough aperture to get enough depth-of-field, but not too small that I would sacrifice micro-detail because of diffraction. This usually means apertures in the ƒ/8 - ƒ/11 range (remember that I am using quite a wide lens, at 24mm, so I don't need super small apertures to get enough DOF).
  • I use Mirror-Lock-Up to avoid mirror slap (and like many before me, I wish Canon would include this option as a Drive Mode, instead of burying it deep in the Custom Functions...)
  • I use a 2-second delay, to avoid the movement of the camera when pressing the shutter release.

While I was there, I stayed for a while in front of the Saputo Stadium, waiting for the right light. I try to get a good balance between the ambient light and the artificial light.

I was about ready to leave, the ambient light having dropped quite a bit, and walked back towards the car. The walkway back placed me (accidentally) right behind the tower, revealing a pleasing symmetrical view I had not seen before. I framed the shot and got this exposure:

I had been in the area of the stadium a couple of days before and I knew that the lights atop the tower were about to be turned on, so once my composition and exposition were all locked down, I waited a couple of minutes. Sure enough, five minutes later, the lights turned on, allowing me to take the shot I kept.

As Shot     Processed  

The problem is that the lights turn on and rapidly heat up to reach their full power, in a matter of a minute or so. Once the lights are at full power, it is impossible to get the shot in a single exposure, since they make the top of the tower a big ball of light much brighter than everything else. Had I not been ready to take the (4-second) exposure in the seconds following the lights turning on, I wouldn't have gotten the shot.

Post-processing was quite simple, as even though it looks like a big difference, it is essentially a white balance adjustment, making everything much, much warmer.

Speaking of the stadium... On a later night, I went back to the location while the city was drenched in a thick fog and snapped this other unusual view of the stadium:

An UFO in Montreal?

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