This was a location that I had wanted to return to take this photo. This building is adjacent to the popular Felix Jazz Mural that I photographed in March 2022. That photo is my second most viewed photo on Flickr. I tried to photograph this when I was there but failed. This is a hard image to take. A photographer must use an ultra-wide or take a multi-image. The latter was what I tried the first time but didn’t succeed. The problem can be seen in a 3D view on Google Maps. The distance between the two buildings on South 7th Street is 54 feet. Google Earth shows that the American National Bank Building that I photographed is 880 ft from the sidewalk to the top of that building.
That calculates to a lens angle of at least 89 degrees. So, a 12mm lens for my mirrorless Sony A7RV was the only option for a single image. But that means a shooting angle of 36 degrees upward tilt on the tripod. This of course was going to create lens distortion in the image as shown below that would need to be corrected afterwards in Lightroom using the transform tools as also shown below. But that resulted in some diagonal edges after transforming. Since I knew this would happen, I shot the image at the max 12mm focal length and left an extra area outside the desired framing. Then I did a little bit of content-aware fill to finish up framing the image to an 8 x 10 landscape.
This was a planned composition as shown by the screenshot of the PhotoPills plan found below. I knew from my previous visit there that I needed to be taking this photo early in the morning. After sunrise there wasn’t much time before the sun would highlight the top of the building creating an undesirable harsh light. The desired light was the early starting of golden hour with that soft diffused light. So, I got there just before 7:00 AM and got this shot at 7:24 AM. Sunday was planned because any other day of the week would result in both pedestrian and vehicle traffic. But a Sunday morning shortly after the blue hour was very quiet. In fact, during my time there from 7:00 AM to 7:45 AM there were exactly 2 pedestrians that I had to adjust my shooting for.
While I didn’t have much time after my arrival to get the shot, I knew going in that I was going to bracket a 3-shot set of exposures. My reasoning was the deep offset of the windows and those upper arches on the top right. Since I was shooting manually and knew from lens review that my sweet spot focal length was f/11, I relied on the histogram and came up with ¼ sec, 1/5 sec, and 1/6th sec, then auto blended in Photoshop (see the histograms below).
Once back in Lightroom, I liked what the histogram was showing (see the composite histogram) compared to the other three histograms. With the histograms showing a skewing to the left, I expected a negative Brightness Value but was surprised at a 4.81 and an Exposure Bias of 0 EV. I was also pleased with the dynamic range that was added because of making it an HDR image with no clipping at either end of the histogram. Adobe Color showed an analogous color theme with the sky as a complementary tone. Saturation was high, but that mostly was because this is a diffused light situation. However, that was to be expected with this being an early golden hour exposure. As a reminder, since this is an HDR image Lightroom retains the exposure data shown in the EXIF tables from the base image.