Providence Rhode Island Downtown Cityscape


Down town Providence Rhode Island from the Point Street Bridge over the Providence RiverSony Alpha NEX-3, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 at 20mm, f/11 for 1/50 at ISO 200

Backgroud

I have been wanting to do a B&W image conversion for a while now, so yesterday I went back through my catalog of images and looked for something that might look interesting. The image was initially taken about a year ago in Providence, Rhode Island. Since I was on a business trip, I did not have my dSLR with me, but did bring my Sony NEX-3 just in case a photo opportunity presented itself.

How to get this type of shot

The shot was made without filters or a tripod in the late afternoon from atop the Point Street Bridge, with the camera pointed north following the Providence River into Downtown. I spent some time with the composition of the old dock in relation to the skyline and found the above gave the most interesting image. I cropped the image to a 16:9 aspect ratio due to the excessive dead space on the lower right of the image using the native 3:2 ratio the camera produces.

I was not particularly thrilled with the image in color. It may have something to do with the kit lens not giving me the color and micro-contrast I am used to with my Canon lenses or most likely, due to the fact that I rarely shoot with the Sony, so I am not used to working with the RAW files from it. In any case, I really liked the detail in the old wooden dock in the foreground, with the contrasting downtown cityscape in the background. I also thought the wispy clouds would make for a nice B&W conversion. This is my first attempt at a B&W image so any comments and critique are appreciated.

Location

Downtown Providence Rhode Island from the Point Street Bridge (Coordinates: 41.818048,-71.403655)

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24 thoughts on “Providence Rhode Island Downtown Cityscape

  1. This looks like a good choice of shot for a b&w conversion. The decaying dock in the foreground reminds me of photos I saw in photographic books back in the early 1980s, when many professional photographers only shot in b&w. The decay contrasts well with the glassy water and the modern city skyline. The crop works well as the view feels nicely balanced. :)

    • Thanks. I could see the old dock from downtown and was immediately drawn to it. Speaking of glassy water, while I was working on this shot, I was wondering how it would have looked using a 10-stop ND filter. I would have lost the structure in the clouds, but I am sure the river would have looked amazing with a long exposure.

      • Thanks for mentioning the ND filter and how it would impact the shot. I used to use a polarising filter on my film cameras, but in this digital age I need to research more about ND filters available for my Fuji S5700. It does at least have a 46mm thread for a filter and I believe I can buy an 2-stop or 4-stop filter that will fit. I also have a good solid tripod, for longer exposures.

      • Using the Sunny f/16 rule, you are looking at a shutter speed of 1/ISO during high noon. So assuming an ISO of 100, you are looking at 1/100s exposure time. A 2-stop ND filter will only get you down to 1/25s and a 4-stop down to 1/6s, not nearly slow enough to get you silky water. Of course this is all shooting at high noon, closer to dusk or dawn or on overcast days you will get even slower shutter speeds. I would recommend getting something more in the 10-stop range to get your desired effect (make sure you will be able to focus with this filter on, or alternatively pre-focus, then screw on the filter since the image will get extremely dark). For maximum flexibility I would suggest a variable ND filter such as this one: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/839835-REG/Polaroid_PLFILFDND46_46mm_Neutral_Density_Fader.html. Using it at maximum, this will get you around a 4s exposure at f/16 even at high noon.

      • Thanks for the extra details, very helpful. ND filters are a new thing to me. I may find that a 2 or 4-stop would help to allow bright afternoon sunshine shots more flexibility as I found it difficult to take macros of flowers in the bright sun for instance. It seems that at least 10-stop would be needed to get silky water, so the suggested variable 3x and above sounds good value and just one item to attach too. Amazon UK have the identical item for just over £25 (close to exchange rate equivalent). Added to wish list for next purchase! :) Thanks for your help. :)

    • Thanks Colin. I hope to learn more about processing B&W images as I am pleased with my initial results. What I think will be the most challenging for me will be “seeing” in B&W; Taking a color scene in front of me and visualizing an output in B&W, thus initialing the process during capture.

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