<<< o >>>downward spiral 44 comments + add yours

Normally I find post-processing my images very therapeutic, but this one drove me nuts, mostly because I almost got it looking how I wanted it (striking blue light through the glass offset by the chrome inside this stairwell), but just couldn't quite get it right. No matter what I tried there always seemed to be a gap between my expectation as to what this shot should look like and what was there in front of me on the screen.

So, instead, here's a moodier colourised version instead.

capture date
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
10.19am on 21/2/05
Canon 20D
Peleng 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye
aperture priority
C1 Pro
LensFix conversion
3x2 + people
comment by Marina at 08:58 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

The tones are really good and I like it as it is! Hope you will find some therapeutic sleep tonight ;-)

comment by Darrell at 09:07 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Very nice. I'd be happy with it as is. Cheers for now

comment by Kjetil at 09:13 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Really good David! You have been using your fisheye in ways I haven't. Will try to experiment more myself with it, since you are getting many fantastic results with it!
You've really catched a special mood in this photo. A contrast between white and black almost. Stunning.

comment by P at 09:22 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Dave -- whether it meets your expectations or not, i like the perspective of the stairway that you've captured in this image. and i notice that your fisheye is much cleaner then mine. i've been using a Bower Super Wide 0.42X on the end of a Canon 18-55mm. the results being that you can use the zoom on the lens to pull the image as tight as a marble if you like. the downside though is there is much distortion towards the edges. yours seems much sharper.

comment by AJ at 09:44 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

I love this picture, the tone and also the perspective, fisheye will be in my wishlist :)

comment by justin at 09:49 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

It's a cracker, David!

comment by Beth at 09:59 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

*insert applause here*
Very nice!

comment by pierre at 10:38 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

I like this

comment by frisky at 10:56 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

word. well done.

comment by m at 11:37 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005


comment by Fellow Eskimo at 11:47 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Nice fisheye. I do not know what it looked like when it was more colourized, but I think it looks pretty good just as it is. It has good contrast, and the boy on the stairwell adds a better sense of depth. Very nice :)

comment by quasi at 11:49 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

I love how this turned out! Sorry to hear about your processing troubles, but I think this turned out excellently. Everything works well here — distortion, toning, perspective. One of my favorite Chromasia shots in a long time.

comment by quasi at 11:51 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

Oops, forgot to mention two things:
1) I love the silhouette of the person climbing down the stairs.
2) I noticed that this shot doesn't seem to be categorized. Mistake, or am I just being dense?

comment by Ben at 11:53 PM (GMT) on 21 February, 2005

David, You obviously have a winning technique for colourising your images (one that I'm struggling to even come close to). If you don't mind divulging your trade secrets, can I ask for a quick overview of your process?

comment by fernando at 12:15 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

your fish lens sure makes for some very cool and creative photos, and a lot different from the usual pictures in here.
also, i think the colour is perfect on this one...

comment by Alex at 12:16 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

being on dial up, the title loads well before the image itself. i saw 'downward spiral' and the first thing that came to mind was that.. you'd.. stolen my picture and claimed it as your own. then i had another glance up there at the domain.. just to make sure.. and it was around about then i realised that i was just being silly :( i can dream.. right? o_O anyways - perhaps this is only on a TFT screen, but your picture produces the strangest of effects. the first time i saw it, i could have sworn it was black and white.. and then the next time, the chrome almost very neary shines through.. but it looks flat. hmm. maybe its just the fisheye. curious - do you think the figure descending adds to or subtracts from the photo? i always wonder about things like that :|

comment by miles at 12:29 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

now this is how a wide angle should be used! Fantastic work mr Nightingale!

comment by ori at 12:39 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005


comment by Ray at 01:02 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

I really like this colourized version.

comment by Arne at 01:14 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Nice composition and effect.

comment by Rodrigo Gómez at 01:39 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

This has the "chromasia-style". Totally! Nice job, even if it wasn't as you wished, another reason to keep trying, isn't? :-)

comment by Pablo A. at 01:44 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

This is a fantastic shot. You make me feel like the amateur hobbyist that I am. (That's a compliemnt.) You've some great shots in your site.

comment by Nancy at 03:26 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

I don't know how it looked in color but doing it this way really stresses the graphic contrasts of all those vertical lines (or not so vertical). Very nice. And the dude in the hat walking down is perfect!

comment by kate at 04:14 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

doggies! that's american for, well, i'm not sure what it translates to, but it means something like- "this is delightfully, fantabulously exceptional...so screw the blue light, david!" ;)

comment by Caroline at 04:37 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Wow, I really love this shot. Your eye moves up the staircase at the bottom to the windows to the silhouette. Very nice, I like the colorization too.

comment by Pavel at 04:48 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Hey David, I was wondering, is there a special technique for shooting fish-eye?
I mean is it harder than any other lense?

comment by Keith at 06:58 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Great looking shot. See you are doing some great stuff with the fisheye.

comment by John at 07:18 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Ver nice photgraphy david. The human element balances is nicely. This remind me of the kind of shot that good creative magazine or newspapers photographers have to set up in order to make it seem that it is spontaneous. Did you set this up ?

comment by helgi at 08:54 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

This is one of my favorites of the year so far -- just great! The tones, the lines and composition, the human element, the distortion.. me likey very much.

comment by djn1 at 10:45 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

P: there is some distortion at the edges of the shot with the Peleng, but because I'm cropping the corners this isn't so noticeable.

quasi: I like how this turned out, but was just irritated that I couldn't get it right the first time around. Sometimes, when I have a clear idea about how a shot should look it's frustrating not to be able to produce it. Oh, and I forgot to add the category: I've fixed it now.

Ben: I used the channel mixer to convert to black and white then a Curves adjustment layer to tone the image. I'll email you a copy of the curve I used.

Alex: I find titling my shots get harder the more I have of them so apologies for stealing yours ;-) As for the figure: I think it adds to the shot.

Pavel: there are two things I've found you need to consider with the fisheye. First: you need to be careful to decide which lines you want to be straight, and which you want to distort. Second: because the angle of view is so great it's difficult to get a balanced shot; i.e. it's very easy to either lose detail in the darker areas of the image or blow out the highlights.

John: no, this wasn't set up, I just hung around until somebody walked down the stairs.

comment by mazzi at 10:51 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Very Cartier Bresson! Nice shot.

comment by slurpee at 11:53 AM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

wow, amazing shot. my eyes just travel from one line to another. wow!

comment by Orthodox at 01:56 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Suggestion for title: "Lost in geometry" ...

comment by Gillian at 02:04 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Very dramatic shot I really like it. One constructive (I hope) criticism....the eye is led up to the top of the first flight of stairs, but this is the area of least detail (it is nearly blown out)and there is no point of interest here. The figure does balance this out slightly but the image still doesn't quite satisfy. It probably wouldn't have been quite so obvious with a longer focal length as the image wouldn't have been so dynamic. Does this make sense? Otherwise I love the your style, especially yesterdays.

comment by matt at 04:48 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

I thinks that's just as well...not sure this shot is about color, anyway. All of the strong verticals and horizontals, each with its own subtle curve, is enough.

comment by matt at 08:08 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Great...now I need a fisheye lens! Thanks Dave.

I really like this color treatment...I dont think it could be better honestly!

comment by picturegrl at 08:49 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

I don't think I would change a single thing about this shot. The toning, the contrast, the composition....sublime.

comment by The Living Eye at 08:53 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Nice to see a staircase through a fish eye, and only one person as a human contrast

comment by djn1 at 08:56 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

Thanks everyone :-)

comment by Jesse at 09:13 PM (GMT) on 22 February, 2005

I do like the colorization in this shot. Thank you for telling about the way you colorized this picture; I have used Photoshop Elements for my editing but downloaded CS trial version today, and I used your information to step away from gradients and built-in effects.

comment by btezra at 12:32 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

~eye dig it~

comment by Paulo Ribeiro at 03:54 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

"Downward Spiral" is also the title of a '94 Nine Inch Nails album, which was re-released a few weeks ago. :)

This is a very striking image and I like the dark tones. I would prefer if the person wasn't there - I always liked photos of empty places!

comment by grace at 03:46 AM (GMT) on 26 February, 2005

oh my god, i love this picture. literally took my breath away

comment by Héctor at 09:23 PM (GMT) on 25 June, 2005

Very nice photo!