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New Image: Alley no. 135, Hard Rock (Cleveland, OH, 10pm)

I went on a 2-week shooting and show trip recently and got back a week ago, spending time in Detroit, Cleveland and Boston. I’m excited about at least 2 images from the trip: this one was shot in Cleveland in an isolated and industrial part of the Flats near downtown – I was under one of the many moving bridges that span the wildly winding Cuyahoga River. This particular vertical-lift bridge was no longer functioning, as the road or rail it once serviced was long gone, and so the span was locked permanently up maybe 50 feet in the air. I got help from my friend John and his wife Maryann who brought along their huge friggin Rottweiler, making this a nice, relaxed shoot where I could take my time and think.

I’m happy about this shot for another reason. There is plenty of decay in the city, the locals will attest to that, but Cleveland was a hard nut to crack – this was the fourth time I went shooting here, but this is the first good shot I got.

The blurry image above is the Polaroid test I did to figure out my lighting. Since I shoot film I have to rely on this to see where my shot is going. It was very dark under the bridge, and while exposing for the city in the back, the bridge would have been a dark blob without my lighting, which you can tell from the lower part of the Polaroid that didn’t get any of my light. In fact, all the light under the bridge is mine, creating the mood I wanted. The one Polaroid I did gave me enough information to know what I needed to do, and with that I shot four 8-minute exposures, varying the light a little each time and the image above was the winner.

From 30 feet away, John shot a spotlight through some trees creating a nice warm light-and-shadow effect over most of the wall. At the same time I walked around with a couple of hand held flashes, adding green light to the steel girders plus a dash of blue to the ceiling. These colors also bled into John’s light, further adding interesting lighting effects on the wall.

You can see how different films react differently to light. The Polaroid saw green light on the office towers while the film saw a warmer hue (which is more accurate since sodium vapor light looks orange to the eye). Also Polaroid is more contrasty, resulting in a black sky, whereas the film saw the blue, likely created by moonlight.

The blue-capped skyscraper on the right is Key Tower. Built in 1991, it is the tallest building in the city. The closer, lavender-capped building is the Terminal Tower, opened in 1928. At the time, it was the 2nd tallest building in the world, after the Woolworth Building in New York.

On another note, my web site has a page with lots of background on the images, called Alley Stories – its also the place to view images with mobile devices lacking Flash. I spent a lot of time recently updating it, adding info and background on lots of shots, as well as reformatting the whole section. Hopefully you find this of some value.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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