Union Station, Portland Oregon. The initial design for Union Station was created in 1882 by McKim, Mead, and White. Had the original plan been built, the station would have been the largest train station in the world. A smaller plan was introduced by architects Van Brunt & Howe, and accepted in 1885. Construction of the station began in 1890. It was built by Northern Pacific Terminal Company at a cost of $300,000, and opened on February 14, 1896. The signature piece of the structure is the 150 ft. tall Romanesque clock tower. The neon signs were added to it in 1948. The signs read “Go by Train” on the northeast and southwest sides and “Union Station” on the northwest and southeast sides. The station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Photographing the tower can be a challenge. Barrel distortion can rear it’s ugly head especially when standing relatively close to the tower. So how did I get this this shot standing only about 100′ from the tower and not have the tower look as if it was leaning or falling over?
I’ll tell you in a minute but first an image taken that clearly shows barrel distortion. As you can see the tower is leaning. In fact even the light post is leaning. In order to get the entire tower in the shop I had to use a wide angle lens (24mm) and point it up and closer inspection reveals that the corners of the tower are not straight lines. Having the camera pointing up is causing the distortion. Many photo processing programs (Lightroom, PhotoShop, Aperture etc.) will correct barrel distortion but this will cause you to lose part of your image (cropping will occur) so composition can be challenging.
Back to the first image. First of all, it was not taken with a wide angle lens. It was shot with a 45mm prime lens but moreover it was a tilt-shift lens. You’ve heard me on many occasions expound the virtues of tilt-shift lenses. So here I go again, but I think you’ll agree that they are worth every penny.
To start, the camera was positioned perfectly level. This alone takes care of distortion. But what about the overall composition? How did I get the entire tower in the image? Easy. Simply take two shots and stitch them together. The first shot was with the lens in the un-shifted position and the second with the lens shifted up (the camera body does not move). Both shots must be taken at the same exposure settings and processed the same. I processed the images in Lightroom 4, exported them as JPEGs, and stitched them together in PhotoShop Elements.
Thanks for looking!
Canon EOS-1D X
Canon 45mm f/2.8 TS-E