As I mentioned in my post several days ago, I been shooting the main Driskill Hotel Christmas tree for four years now. But this year, I shot another one, tucked back in the corner on the other side of the hotel. It’s in the Driskill Bar right near the 7th street entrance.
The place was quite dark and I had some doubts if this would come out. I used my Olympus E-PM2 with the 14mm lens on a table top tripod and put it on a cushy ottoman. I shot three photographs at 2 stops apart and use the HDR bracket option that is new to the E-PM2 — this isn’t available on the E-P3. Just to be clear, the HDR bracket feature just takes the photographs, it does not do any in-camera HDR processing.
I used my standard, subtle HDR processing technique to get it just right. I wanted the Christmas tree lights be bright and festive but still wanted to keep the moody, wood-paneled bar feeling. I’m happy with the way it came out.
I hope everyone has a great Holiday Season. I’m shutting things down here and packing up for a family vacation to the East Coast. I may have one more post coming before I go for the rest of the year.
Click on the photograph to see a larger image and hover over the photo to see the exposure detail.
If you have read some of my previous blog entries, you probably know that I go on frequent photowalks to downtown Austin. Luckily Austin has enough of a downtown core to have fun places to photograph, both inside and out. Our photowalk group also ends up in a lot of bars and clubs — not necessarily to drink but to take photographs. These establishments try their best to have an interesting and a unique atmosphere to attract guests and that usually means neat interior decor. They can get their look with cool lights, bright colors or unique architecture. There are many bars on the east side of Congress Avenue in and around 6th street, but there are also places worth visiting on the west side of town. The Lucky Lounge is located on west 5th Street on the north end of the warehouse district. Its been around for a while and has some great colors inside. Here is a quick visual tour.
The circular blue lights are in the front window right on 5th street. They contrast nicely with the interior which is primarily red. The image at the top of the post is the view from the front looking back into the main bar area. I try to travel light when going to these spots and not call attention to myself — a perfect use of my Sony NEX-5 and a small tripod, for maximum quality. I took these images before Christmas so the holiday lights give an extra sparkle to the already rich environment.
My Thought Process
Image 1: Towards the front of the bar, there is a nice shiny red wall with a convenient small shelf, probably to use as a drink holder. It was the perfect place to set up my NEX-5 on a table top tripod. Catching the warm reds and reflections off the wall was my goal here. I used the candle in the foreground for a bit of interest and a source of additional reflections off the wall. The shelf and reflected light act as leading lines into the bar, which I believe pulls the viewer into the scene.
Image 2: The blue circular neon lights are a fun design element. The cool blue towards the front of the bar is a stark contrast to the hot red towards the back. The blue neon was the primary subject but I wanted to have a hint on the blue lit pool table as a foreground element. It also was a convenient to place my tripod camera combo directly on the table.
Image 3:The Lucky Lounge has a raised area right behind the bar where you can take in the place. It’s a fun place to people watch and see the action at the bar from an atypical vantage point. I wanted to catch the scene and get some motion blur of the crowds as they mingled. I used the red candle again in this shot to add interest and balance out the composition.
Image 4: The bar also has a small 2nd floor loft. This is the stairs looking down from the loft area. I liked the angles of the metal handrails as well as the dark shadows blending into the intense red lighting.
[Note: Click on the images for a larger version]
I took these photographs with the Sony NEX-5 in RAW with the 16mm prime lens. I minimally post processed them using Aperture 3, sharpening, decreasing highlights and brightening the shadows.
Image 1: f8, 6 secs, +2/3 exposure compensation, ISO 200 at 16mm
Image 2: f7.1, .8 sec, +2/3 exposure compensation, ISO 200 at 16mm
Image 3: f10, 6 secs, +1/3 exposure compensation, ISO 200 at 16mm
Image 4: f2.8, .6 sec, no exposure compensation, ISO 200 at 16mm