Long Exposure, HDR Images Of The Night Time Concrete Pour For The Plinth On Pier Four

View From The Pilot House Of The Towboat While Delivering Concrete to Pier Four Plinth Pour
View From The Pilot House Of The Towboat While Delivering Concrete to Pier Four.

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Last week I shot  a series of experimental HDR images during a night time concrete pour on Pier Four of the Downtown Span of the Ohio River Bridges Project. I wanted to shoot this pour using long exposures AND bracketed sets of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures for the HDR images. What I didn’t know was whether my idea would work and if it would give me the results I hoped for.

I like pushing the limits with my HDR processes and this evening was a perfect chance to experiment with a method that I don’t recall seeing any other HDR experts attempting. I knew that my use of long exposures would result in light trails and blurred movement as the construction crew went about placing the concrete in the plinth form.  I planned to shoot from a tripod which would result in crisp images of any stationary objects in the scene while still allowing any blurring of the men and the moving equipment to indicate their movement.

For the first image in this post I set up my tripod in the pilot house on the towboat. By doing that I had a fixed view of the barge that was carrying the concrete containers out to Pier Four. In this view we were tied off to the work barge on Pier Four with four concrete containers on deck waiting for the crane operator to lift them up onto the concrete pump hopper. The towboat wasn’t moving so everything is sharp except for the deckhands who were rigging the containers for lifting.

Monitoring the Concrete Delivery for Pouring the Plinth.
Monitoring the Concrete Delivery for Pouring the Plinth.

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Once we were tied off to the work barge I went over on it’s deck and set up my tripod. I wanted to capture this man who was monitoring the moving of the containers from the towboat barge to the concrete pump hopper. While he was standing still and is in sharp focus; the people on the plinth form in the background are blurred as they move into position to start placing the concrete in the form.

Moving A Concrete Container From The Barge To The Concrete Pump
Lifting A Concrete Container From The Towboat Barge To The Concrete Pump Hopper.

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For this third image I moved my tripod to a point behind some partially assembled rebar structures on the towboat barge. I wanted these structures in the foreground to be in focus while in the background the concrete container was leaving a light trail as it is lifted from the barge up to the concrete pump hopper. This is exactly what I hoped to see when I conceived this idea of using a combination of HDR Bracketing and Long Exposures to show movement in the final images.

Placing The Concrete In The Plinth Form On Pier Four.
Placing The Concrete In The Plinth Form On Pier Four.

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This image of the placement of the concrete is also a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures but for the over exposed frame I decided to zoom the lens in and out during the exposure. The aperture was set to f/22 and the shutter duration was 5 seconds and produced great movement around the outer edges of the frame while leaving room at the center for the figures to resolve in the image. I used NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to merge this HDR image but instead of applying strong anti-ghosting I left it set to 20% which allowed me to accent their movement. The movement of the men placing the concrete while the plinth form remained satic was the result I was seeking and I consider it a success.

Another View Of The Placing Of The Concrete In The Plinth Form On Pier Four
Another View Of The Placing Of The Concrete In The Plinth Form On Pier Four.

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This version of the concrete forms and concrete placement was accomplished by using a tripod during the three frame bracket set of exposures. By using long shutter speeds and a fixed aperture of f/8 I once again accomplished my goal of contrasting the movement of the figures with the stationary structure they were working on. As in the other image of the men placing the concrete I left the anti-ghosting slider set at 20% to allow ghosting to further reinforce the movement in the image.

Long Exposure Shot From The Towboat Pilot House While Delivering Concrete To Pier Four.
Long Exposure Shot From The Towboat Pilot House While Delivering Concrete To Pier Four.

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The final image in this post is another one I shot from from the pilot house. It was accomplished by placing my tripod in the pilot house and then using an aperture of f/9 and shutter speeds of 6 seconds, 5, seconds and 15 seconds. These wonderful light trails are the result of the lights on the Louisville shoreline and the construction site as the towboat crossed the river and swung the barge into place alongside Pier Four. I also like the way the light beam from the spotlight cuts through the night. The figure of the man standing on the front of the barge illuminated by the ambient light from the work barge is, for me, the icing on the cake.

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