Charles Lanteigne Photo

It's all just a façade

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A building's façade.

"Okay, so it's a building's façade. What about it?" I can see how one may react this way, but on the contrary, it was a rather challenging image to make. Where would be the fun in this if it was just a click away?

Let me show you what it looked like initially:

Oh. I see.

It goes without saying that the overall color and tones were corrected, and in particular the lights inside the building were harmonized using several exposures and careful HDR blending. The contrast between the building and the sky wasn't right because the weather wasn't great the day I had access to the building—I knew I would have to add some color to the sky to make it less bland. Additionally, many distracting elements were cleaned up—the various tones of concrete, cracks and paint in the street, etc.

That's all typical stuff I'd do for any image, but even after that, there were several glaring problems that needed to be addressed using creative solutions...

There was a telephone pole and electric cables in the way

This is one of those things that could not be fixed on location, I knew I'd have to spend a lot of time in Photoshop removing them—I've faced this problem in the past. The telephone pole hid things that could not be easily recreated in post, so I took another plate a couple of feet down the street to capture what was behind the pole.

There's the missing stuff! The rest of this plate isn't important.

Some lights couldn't be turned on

Buildings look dead/deserted when lights aren't on, so I wasn't happy with some of the lights off. This is complete fabrication, of course—I just had to imagine where those lights would hit so it would look believable.

I also harmonized the lights in those other dead windows so everything would match.

An element didn't match the original plans

A part of the roof of the older building on the left was supposed to be removed, but the owner ended up keeping it. This meant that the volumes couldn't be read the way they were meant to be read, so I had to take it out.

The cars that happened to be parked there didn't look great.

To deal with this, I photographed better cars parked somewhere near the building, positioned roughly at the same location in the frame to keep the angles right (yes, I carried my stepladder with me to keep the same elevation) and close-cut them in. I picked cars that had a light above them that resembled the original light.

Spiffy new cars! Again, the rest of the plates isn't important.

Car 1   Car 2

Several hours of work later, I had an image that did justice to the building.

As Shot     Processed  

Of course, that wasn't the end of it for me, since I had to do this all over again for two other images of this building from different angles. You can see the result here—and this time you won't be fooled into thinking they were simple images to make!

This beautiful building was designed by architect Guillaume Lévesque.

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