Tag: architecture

2013 in review

Tonight I want to share the annual report for the Speeddemon2.com blog that the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared for 2013.

Here’s an excerpt from the 2013 annual report on the progress of Speeddemon2.com :

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

This report about 2013 was very exciting news for me. I have worked hard the past year to share my knowledge about Construction photography and HDR photography with the world and the results are very gratifying. People from 136 countries have visited Speeddemon2.com to see my photos and explore the HDR techniques that I have been using to create them. My goal in 2014 is to grow from 950 followers to 10,000 followers and to foster even more interest in HDR photography and my approach to construction photography.

In addition to the Speeddemon2 blog I’m also working on a several year project to document the Ohio River Bridges Project that will showcase the men and women who are building this massive construction project which will forever transform Louisville’s waterfront. My project will encompass nearly three years of photos with quarterly books that will reflect the progress of the project from season to season. Currently I am editing the first volume of these books which will feature the Fall of 2013 foundation work and the people who are building the project. In the end, probably in 2016, I will be compiling a larger book that will draw on the quarterly volumes and document the Ohio River Bridges Project for posterity.

None of this would have been possible without my decision in 2012 to start the Speeddemon2 blog and share my photography with the world. I am so grateful for those who started following and commenting on my work early on which further strengthened my resolve to keep publishing. I also need to thank the men and women of the construction industry who allowed me to embed myself with them as I honed my skills both as a photographer and as an advocate for the people who build our civic infrastructure. I look forward to what the future has in store for me and I sincerely hope that I do justice to the support that so many people have shown for my work as Speeddemon2.com has evolved.

Click here to see the complete 2013 report.

HDR of Ohio River Bridges Project

Saturday on the Ohio River Bridges Project
Saturday on the Ohio River Bridges Project

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This image was captured looking west from the Big Four Bridge. The two cranes in the river are drilling sites where the towers for the Downtown Span will be built. The tugboat in the foreground was moving barges into place at the two drilling sites.

The image was created from a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV shot handheld. I merged them in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and applied the Balanced preset which I then tweaked to get the detail and realism I was looking for. I set the anti-ghosting at 60% which did a good job of rendering the moving tugboat. After merging and tweaking the image I returned it to Aperture 3 where I finished adjusting the color channels, contrast and sharpening.

Final Assembly of the Pier Reinforcement Structure

Ironworkers on barge
Ironworkers on their construction barge put the final touches on the pier reinforcement structure.

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This image shows the pier reinforcement structure that will be taken out to the drilling platform in the background and installed inside a steel caisson  that has been drilled thirty feet into the bedrock under the river. The men are making their final assembly before rigging it to be lifted and inserted into the caisson the next day.

Once again I worked with a single frame from my bracket set in Aperture 3. I created a preset that I can apply to most of my shots from this day which will greatly speed up my processing for the entire shoot. Once I have my basic settings adjusted to suit my vision for the photo I create a preset that I can then apply to other images from the shoot and then adjust to fine tune a particular image.

Ironworkers Assembling an Iron Caisson

Ironworkers Assembling an Iron Caisson for a Bridge Pier on the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville Kentucky
Ironworkers Assembling an Iron Caisson for a Bridge Pier on the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville Kentucky.

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Ironworkers known as “Rod Busters” are seen here assembling a steel rebar caisson for the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville Kentucky. There is also a completed caisson in the background on the work barge. These caissons will be inserted into the steel cylinders that are in the right hand side of the image when those cylinders are placed in the river to build the piers for the new bridge. It was early in the morning and a fog bank was coming in from the east which diffused the light and lent an ethereal quality to the morning sunlight.


Foggy Morning on the River Crossing Project

Ironworker #2
Loading Steel Onto The Construction Barge.

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Yesterday morning the Ironworkers were loading more steel onto the barge they are building the caisson on. The caisson is the internal reinforcement for the bridge pier which will be lowered into the steel casing before the concrete is poured. The size and amount of steel that goes into one of these caissons is incredible. The horizontal elements in this caisson are at least two inches in diameter while the rings around it are close to one inch in diameter. Loading the steel onto the barge is a very controlled process that requires coordination among the ironworkers on the barge and the crane operator to accomplish safely and efficiently. The man in the photo is communicating with hand signals to the crane operator to lower the load onto the steel beams that will support it while it is on the barge deck.

I processed this image from a single frame using Topaz Clarity to reveal the colors in the scene and to show the river fog engulfing the Kennedy Bridge in the background. I find Topaz Clarity to be very good at allowing me to control the contrast and colors in an image while avoiding halos and artifacts that sometimes occur within these types of images. After applying the Topaz Clarity adjustment I returned the image to Aperture 3 where I adjusted the sharpening and applied a small vignette.


Download a free trial of Topaz Clarity at the link below and give it a try; I think you will agree it is a great addition to any photographer’s workflow. Plug-ins like Clarity really speed and simplify my post processing and allow me to experiment with different approaches to my images in a timely way without spending hours looking for just the right combination of adjustments and enhancements in Photoshop CS5. With a project as large as this one where I’m shooting nearly every day Topaz plug-ins allow me to maintain a relatively fast paced post processing workflow while still creating photos that reflect my feelings for the subject matter.