The Looming Door In Balboa Park

Museum Of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

There is this cool, ominous looking door at the entry to the Museum of Man in Balboa Park. As I sat on the steps in front of the museum this past weekend, I felt the door looming over me. Not menacingly ... more like what's behind the door is of importance. And it's the door's job to protect it.

I set out to stress that feeling in the framing of the photo. I got down low and very close to the door with a wide angle lens. I actually like the lens distortion feel in this photo. Processing this photo was fun as well. A few things that went into this photo:

  • As I normally do, i bracket the shots. My crutch to make sure I get a good exposure. In this case, I did end up using Nik HDR Efex Pro to accentuate the textures and patterns in the door and building. HDR generally does terrible things to skies, and this photo was no exception.

  • Next, I took two of the under-exposed frames and the HDR image into OnOne's Perfect Photo Suite. I blended the sky from one of the under-exposed frames with the HDR image. That cut down on the crunchy sky left from the HDR processing.

  • Lastly, the door itself. The blues of the door were muted from the HDR processing. I took one of the under-exposed frames into Perfect Effects. I first applied an HDR look to it, punching up the contrast and detail. This becomes important when blending later - trying to blend a non-HDR-like image with an HDR image is akin to mixing oil and vinegar. I then applied the Cyberpunk effect, which casts and eerie blue across an image. Masking in just the Cyberpunk'd door with the HDR image gave me the look I was after. I ended up with about a 50% opacity on the blend so the blue tone of the door isn't over the top.

  • Final touches done back in Aperture. Retouching out a few distractions, a light vignette, slight desaturation of the building facade, and a little dodging to accentuate the "cross" in the door.

    That last bit is because I also used this photo as this week's offering to my 2014 photo challenge. The dual-theme this week is Doors / Renewal. I'd hoped for a more orange sky for the Renewal aspect, but nature disagreed with the idea. The cross helps some (the religious angle on renewal).

For a future shot, I might get a little closer and go vertical.