Architectural Decay in HDR


We grew up near where Interstate 80 now cuts through Omaha. As a result, there were many old houses and structures that were tagged for removal in advance of the interstate. As kids, we spent a lot of time exploring these curiosities. This fascination remains with me to this day.

Whenever I'm on the road, I keep an eye out for abandoned structures. In the midwest, there is a continued elimination of small farms by corporate agri-business. Many of these mega-farms have abandoned farmhouses and out-buildings on the property. When I find one, I'll make a point of documenting these decaying structures.

I usually don't have a tripod with me when these opportunities knock. As such, I've never played around with combining multiple exposures into HDR images. HDR (High Dynamic Range) tools utilize multiple bracketed exposures, combining both highlight and shadow information to arrive at a final image with greater tonal range than an individual exposure is capable of.

A few months ago, I began playing with the HDR Toning filter in Photoshop CS5 and was pleasantly surprised to find that this filter is great at pulling HDR-like tonality out of single exposure images. The result is an enhanced textural quality not prominent in the original image.

Below are a few of my architectural decay images that I've run through the HDR Toning filter.