PNC Building No.1 - © jj raia

PNC Building No.1 – © jj raia

For the past several weeks, I’ve been leaving my house early (still dark) on Sunday mornings to get out and photograph something, anything! just to be out of the house at a time when there might be fewer people around during this continuing assault of Covid-19. This particular Sunday, after seeing a blank sky again with poor prospects of a good sunrise at the lake, I traveled toward downtown Raleigh to wander the mostly empty streets while most folks were either still in bed or getting ready for Sunday Services.

The first thoughts were to look for window reflections, and so I walked around the streets to get a clear view of the PNC building without much interference from any others. But looking through the viewfinder, the building just seemed bland against a blank blue sky. Something more was needed to create some energy.

PNC Building No.2 - © jj raia

PNC Building No.2 – © jj raia

Remembering some multiple exposures done during a visit to NC Museum of Art, it seemed it just might do the trick to inject a little more excitement into the image. So several individual images were made of the building in different areas of the frame that were intended to be blended together later in Photoshop. But since the camera had the ability to make a single image from multiple exposures, I used that feature and felt this may be the way to go, but the individual frames were available if needed. After settling on five as the number of combined frames (too few would seem too contrived and too many would just appear to be a mess), several attempts were made until I noticed a circular pattern in one of them. So I began to use the focusing point in the viewfinder as the pivot point. Each frame of the five were rotated slightly while I kept the focusing point square on the same window of the building, which resulted in a circular pattern of the building’s window frames.

PNC Building No.3 - © jj raia

PNC Building No.3 – © jj raia

After making several of these of the building’s west and north side which was in shade (top photo), I walked a few blocks to a parking lot with a view of the sunlit east side and tried the same technique, still keeping the focusing point on a solitary window as I rotated the camera (two above). But there, the color palette was different from the almost completely blue on the buildings western façade.


Wandering Soul - Raleigh © jj raia

Wandering Soul – Raleigh © jj raia

After a few attempts of the eastern side and being accosted for donations to a “worthy” singular cause, I moved on to see what else might interest my camera to photograph. During the wander, there were several parking lots with the mostly blank walls of an adjacent building that could serve as a backdrop for a person walking by. At one of these, the early morning shadow of a tree and lamp post fell on it, and I enlisted the services of a sorry soul, along with a wireless remote, to “walk through” the scene. The same scenario was used for another wall, but the pedestrian was too recognizable to include here since I never got a signed model release.

I found another wall with some weeds struggling to grow out from the crack where the sidewalk and building met, admiring the harmony of the soft color tones and gentle patina of the wall itself.

Weeds and Wall — Raleigh © jj raia

Weeds and Wall — Raleigh © jj raia

After going home, during that same afternoon, I convinced my son to get out of the house, and return to downtown so he could take some photos there. By then, there were some clouds building as the afternoon heated up, and the building reflected them in its windows. Using the same technique as in the morning, the images had a completely different feel, as the clouds in the sky and their reflections seemed to blend together making the building appear it reached much higher into the sky and was among the clouds.

PNC Building No. 3 — Raleigh © jj raia

PNC Building No. 3 — Raleigh © jj raia

It was too bad that the afternoon shoot had to be cut short on account of being caught in a downpour with thunder and lightening! It seemed to come out of nowhere, and we had to duck under a small building overhang to stay dry. With no let up in sight, we packed up our cameras there to keep them out of the rain for our final sprint back to the car.

But I think we have found a useful technique for the toolbox to energize some lethargic photos in the future, with the added bonus that it takes up no space there. It may also be interesting to try this technique when there is much more color in the sky during a sunset or sunrise with clouds; or try from a distance with a telephoto lens. But then I will be torn between new, possibly better shots of the building, and making another attempt at the continuing elusive shot at the lake I’ve been after almost this entire year. I’m sure that all the necessary elements for that lake shot will come together at some point in the future; and my hope is that I will actually be there to capture it. Until then, I’ll keep wandering and trying different things even if they end up being failures.

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