Three From a Pedestrian Bridge in Austin

I have been focusing on shooting Austin lately and have been running around downtown. I usually do this on an early morning when there aren’t so many people about and I can easily park my car. There is a pedestrian bridge across Lady Bird Lake from which you can see downtown and maybe a nice sunrise, especially in the winter months when the sun rises farther south. Another thing visible from this bridge is the railroad bridge and its graffiti. I don’t ordinarily find graffiti to be nice looking, but this kind of fits in with the scene, I think.

I came to this bridge on a morning in early April for the sunrise, not really knowing what I was going to get. I was thinking that the buildings might have some nice light on them and that the clouds would have some interesting color. What I found on this day was the sun peeking between a couple of the buildings just above the railroad bridge and I loved the way it looked. I first shot this with a 14mm lens as it captured part of the pedestrian bridge leading across the water along with the rest of the scene.

Pedestrian bridge in downtown Austin at sunrise

I thought that 14mm was too wide for this picture as you might not even notice the sun light or the railroad bridge. And the pedestrian bridge, while leading into the city, leads to the left rather than toward the main subject. I switched over to a 24-120mm lens to get in a bit closer to the subject. The image below was shot at 28mm and f/20. With this picture, a lot of the clutter is removed and the main subject reads much better. I didn’t get the sun burst that I wanted through the buildings. I do like the graffiti being in this image for some reason.

railroad bridge in downtown Austin at sunrise

On another morning late in May, I came back to this location as I had hopes of an interesting sky and I wanted to try a few different things. At this time, the sun was rising too far North to be visible through the gaps between the building but it was lighting some of the building from the side. The image below is shot at 14mm and is an HDR merge of multiple exposures. The horizon is a golden yellow and some of the building catch that glow. There was also a train parked on the railroad bridge. And if she is reading this, the woman on the far left taking a picture is a bit distorted by being on the edge of the 14mm lens.

Pedestrian bridge in downtown Austin at sunrise in HDR

One minor issue with capturing multiple issues for an HDR merge was ghosting, or parts of an image that change from exposure to exposure. This was the clouds and trees blowing in the wind for this picture. To account for this I had to move the de-ghosting slider almost all the way to the maximum when merging these images. This can have the side-affect of giving you patchy looking images, especially in the sky, but it seemed to work well with this set of images. The HDR merging was done using Photomatix Pro.

On a side note, to de-ghost, you select a main image that is used for anything that moved from exposure to exposure. If the ghosted part of your image was very contrasted, you get a patchy looking result, so you have to chose what you want.

On this morning the clouds were really moving and I thought that this might be nice for a long exposure shot. So, I changed to my 24-120mm lens, composed and focused, and set exposure. Then I put on a 10-stop filter, multiplied the shutter time by 1000, triggered the remote shutter release and timed it with a stopwatch app on my phone. The picture below is a 200 second exposure that smoothes out the lake and blurs the clouds in the sky.

Long Exposure of Downtown Austin Texas at sunrise

I love the way this picture turned out. I got a perfect exposure and I think the right duration to blur the clouds. This is the kind of long exposure shot I have been trying to get for quite some time, so I am quite pleased. I did Photoshop out part of a rail from the bridge I was on (about where my watermark is) because I couldn’t shoot around it. Also, the 200 second exposure is followed by a 200 second noise reduction exposure, so the picture took nearly 7 minutes to take. Fortunately, a nice man stopped and talked to me for a while and that passed the time.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments about this, please leave them below.


7 thoughts on “Three From a Pedestrian Bridge in Austin

    1. Yeah, one of the problems with HDR is that it is tough not to overdo. I just want some definition in the building rather than shadows. I mainly just have fun experimenting.


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