Theaterwiz

Mama, I’m comin’ home…

Well, friends!  It’s Valentine’s Day, so today’s post had to be special.  I think by now most of you who follow my posts know that I’ve been, for some time now, part of an HDR collaboration with some of the coolest HDR cats out there, like Jim Denham, Rob Hanson, Bob Lussier, and Brian Matiash.  And now, we’ve added another amazing HDRtist to the mix, Mike Criswell (aka Theaterwiz)!  Man am I lucky to be part of such a perfect storm!  And what better way to welcome Mike, and to celebrate Valentine’s Day, than with an extra-special set of brackets I shot (and all of us post-processed to to our own tastes) as part of my continuing coverage of the awesome URBEX site known as Asylum “T”.

So, a little bit about Asylum “T”.  After World War II (I’ll discuss the WWII era and pre-WWII area on another day), this site, which is located in former East Germany, towards Dresden, was taken over by the Russians and used as a military hospital until around 1993, when the Russians turned it back over to the Germans.  What’s interesting about the former Russian installations I’ve have explored is that the attics and basements are full of little mementos of the former Russian occupation.  Take this attic, for example.  What you see here are the names of several Russian cities, from which those who left their marks hailed, as well as the dates the person was assigned to the installation, or when they rotated out.  With that backstory in mind, I felt that post-processing this shot to Ozzy Osbourne’s fantastic Mama, I’m Comin’ Home was a no-brainer.  Like Ozzy sings to his wife (bet many of you did not know “Mama” was his nickname for his wife), I can imagine these Russian soldiers, weary after years away from home, can think of nothing more than returning to loved ones, girlfriends, wives, and, yes, even mothers!  Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Post-Processing notes:  My favorite photographic  sizes 8 x 10 and 1 x 1 (square crop), so it should come as no surprise that I went with an 8 x 10 crop for this one.  Aside from that creative decision, I also chose to process this shot in a way that would bring the greatest attention to the text left behind on the walls and wooden beams by the Russian soldier.  As I’m also partial to the color red, and since it is, after all, Valentine’s Day, I also saturated and brightened the red paint (particularly on the nearest pillar) a bit.  To give the photograph greater depth, I carefully painted shadows back into the image in places where you would expect to se shadows, while still keeping just enough light on key bits in the darkness to let you know what you are looking at.  I wanted this to look as realistic as possible, yet with my own personal touch.

Mike Criswell (aka Theaterwiz):

I was anxious to get a look at the brackets when Jacques told us what the title was going to be, I was not disappointed. The information he provided about the location was amazing and when I started processing this I wanted to convey that in my version of the shot. I really liked the gritty foreground and detailed ceiling when I first looked at the set, but the more I worked on the picture the more I realized where my vision was for this set of brackets. I wanted to focus more on the doorway and the amazing writing on the walls and column, this area really told the story of this location and I tried to accent those areas in the processing. I think I spent more time looking at different cropping ideas on this than final processing tweaks, and I had a hard time deciding on my final version. I let everything sit overnight and this ended up being my favorite when it was all said and done. Thanks again for the brackets Jacques, and thanks to the rest of the Collaboration group for letting me join in the processing fun.

Jim Denham:

Thanks to Jacques for supplying a great set of brackets and a great story behind them! I wanted to highlight the names and dates in the image, but didn’t want to overdo the processing – something simple and straight forward. There was a lot of space in the image and I cropped it down a bit to move the focus clearly on the concrete pillar and the wall behind. Used dodging and burning to further accent.

Rob Hanson:

Once again, Jacques donated a fantastic set of brackets for this round. I did all of my processing work before I got the backstory on Asylum -T, and found that I didn’t make too many changes even after I heard more about this place. This set also gave me a chance to do some overdue research on Ozzy’s career. Not being a big heavy-metal fan, I lost interest in Sabbath sometime after “Master of Reality” wore out (and yes, folks, I remember when it was released!)

With a tip of the hat to Jacques’ fantastic composition skills, I brought the crop in somewhat aggressively, strengthening the vertical lines of the columns in order to highlight the tall ceiling. I felt that this really brought attention to the column and brings us closer to the graffiti while eliminating what were, for me, a couple of minor distractions.

In a cold, dark, dingy Urbex environment, I think it’s a natural human impulse to want to escape, to go back to what is warm and comfortable. As I did with both Mark Garbowski’s recent “Uptown & The Bronx” and Brian Matiash’s “A Seemingly Safe Exit” collaborations, I lit the way out of this scene by providing warm and inviting light coming from the door. That gives us a choice to either stay in the scene to take in more of the graffiti, or to navigate toward the door to something more soothing.

I really enjoy working with Jacques’ brackets. They always confront me with things that make me think more about what I’m doing with an image.

Bob Lussier:

A set of brackets provided by Jacques is always guaranteed to please. This is no exception.

I kept the processing pretty straightforward. I tend to lean towards contrasty processing so this place that Jacques so expertly captured was perfect for me. I pulled back the saturation a bit and then popped the red graffiti.

Finally, I cropped it to an 8×10 format to help lead the eye across the floor and out the door.

Thanks Jacques, for the Valentine’s Day gift.

We love you too.

Brian Matiash:

It’s always a pleasure to work on a fine set of brackets, especially when they are from an HDR cohort.  Jacques has proven time and again that he knows how to get very compelling UrbEx images, so it was a treat to take a crack at this series.

I decided to crop the image a bit and get rid of some of the foreground.  I also kept the processing more on the colder, stoic side.  I want the viewer to feel chilly when looking at the graffiti on the stone columns.

My favorite part of the scene is that little bit of the door that you see in the background. There is something so wonderfully creepy about it.

Kudos for a fine set of brackets, my man. I truly enjoyed it.

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