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Friday Slide Show: Echoes Of The Past Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

4 April 2014

There's nothing like magical light. The sort of natural illumination that seems unusual for one reason or another. Not the overhead spotlight of noon or the golden hour when the sun is low. Something very special.

Brick Facade. But a light brick.

We happened across just such a moment in November 2011 while we were testing a Canon PowerShot 310 HS. You know, the sort of camera buried by the smartphone avalanche never to be seen again. Maybe you have one in a drawer somewhere?

It was overcast as we wandered around downtown, the fog reluctant to rise. But the sun had burned off the edge on the bay and the fog was retreating along the Embarcadero by the time we got there. We snapped a few shots for our review and went back to the bunker.

A few days later, the review done, we felt drawn to those images. We just had to make a print or two. So we did. We even published one here last year under the title The Bow Of The Bridge. But there's more where that came from.

ISO was generally low, between 100 and 200, automatically set by the PowerShot. But the Mechanics Monument was ISO 500 for some reason. All JPEG captures, of course.

We were a little surprised to see how few of them are horizontal compositions. It was as if the PowerShot stood on its own legs for these shots.

We tweaked them in Lightroom 5 but it wasn't easy. The temptation is to get a nice dark black, all the way out to the end of the histogram and a nice bright white at the other end. That pretty quickly ruins the effect.

These images are all about the middle tones. The softness that magical light bestowed upon them is easily ruined in post production. They have to be a little flat. The blacks not black, the whites not white.

The PowerShot did a very nice job to begin with, so we nudged the sliders only slightly, mostly to show who's boss.

We did indulge in perspective correction. Somehow, we're getting awfully fond of that. It's true enough that a bit of optical distortion is digestible, but it's very pleasant to eliminate it, too. It makes us feel like we had a view camera at our disposal.

That was mostly done with the Auto button but we had to do at least one manually. Nice to have that option.

The images speak for themselves but we had to come up with a title. There isn't much modern about them and we think you would be hard pressed to guess which decade they were taken in if we hadn't spilled the beans already.

They aren't retro images, though, not with the unusual aspect ratio and cropping. Still, they seem to suggest the past has not entirely disappeared.

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