Up In Smoke

UW Powerplant Smokestack HDR

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The UW has a power plant.  I suppose it’s pretty obvious when you look at the massive smokestack, constantly billowing… well… smoke, I guess.  I’ve looked at it a million times, but it wasn’t until I was lurking around campus the other day, trying to find an innocuous place to illegally park while driving the afternoon impromptu shuttle run that I realized how close you can get to it.  Even though it still produces 40% of the campus emissions (coal to natural gas switchover in the 80’s not withstanding), I’ve always loved looking at it.  A massive symbol of industry, hiding in plain view next to Montlake boulevard.

I took this picture with my wonderful Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens.  Although I was a little worried about how long I could hang around taking pictures of university infrastructure before someone ran me off, I got up as close as possible to the base of the stack and shot almost straight up.  In a more documentary picture, especially shooting from corner to corner of the frame, I might have used Photoshop to straighten out some lines, but I liked the effect of all the angles in this picture.  Using my standard HDR setup (handheld, but tight against my wonderful R-Strap, burst mode, AEB) I shot three shots and used Photomatix to combine them, but I dialled down the insanity a bit as I didn’t think this picture needed the glowing lights treatment.  I really like this shot in general – having a good subject means you don’t need to work nearly as hard to make the final product something you like.