Marie Reine du Monde: Queen of the World
Lori and I like to pack our weekend trips as full as possible. It takes some strategic planning, and often a decent amount of caffeine, but we’ve gotten pretty good at hitting the major attractions of a city in a 2-3 day span. Of course, when in Montreal, we couldn’t miss the famous Cathedrale Marie Reine du Monde (English: Mary, Queen of the World). Although not as colorful as Notre Dame, it was similarly grand and also much less crowded. While there, a small assortment of tourists and homeless came and went, but we basically had the place to ourselves.
Also of note, Marie Reine does NOT have a public restroom… but I did invent a new dance while I was packing up my gear.
It’s Cool to Be Smart
The Cathedral Marie Reine du Monde is the third largest church in Quebec. It was built in the late 18th century after a previous cathedral burned down. The bishop of Montreal at the time decided to have the new church built as a scale model of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The only difference in the exterior of Mary, Queen of the World is that Instead of the statues of the twelve apostles as on the façade of St. Peter’s, the top of the front of the church is lined with statues of the patron saints of thirteen parishes of Montreal who donated them.
Post Processing of Lead Image
- Converted 5 bracketed NEFs to DNG
- Corrected chromatic aberration in LR
- Tonemapped in Photomatix
- Ate dinner… chili, yummmm ^_^
- Blended layers in PS
- Edited blended image with layer adjustments and coffee
- High Pass set to Hard Light to sharpen
Where’s the Butler?
As you may recall, to my chagrin, Marie Reine du Monde does not have a public restroom. After inventing several very post-modern dance moves, I briskly walked to the nearby Marriott hotel. This also provided Lori the chance to ask directions to beautiful Notre Dame while I visited the little boys room (tee hee). Upon my return, she was still wrapped up in conversation with the concierge and, I took the opportunity to photograph this handsome staircase. It reminds me of the staircase in my future mansion that I’ll likely never buy, except this one doesn’t have a monocle wearing butler coming down it with a hot cappuccino. Ah well, nothing can be perfect right?
This image was a pretty straight forward Photoshop edit. In Photomatix, I made sure to keep the luminosity slider as low as possible to avoid losing details to the classic HDR glowy look. Also, in the Photoshop Edit screenshot below, you’ll notice the “Yellow De-sat” which selects the white stone in the stairs in the ceiling. In this HSL adjustment layer I dropped the Yellow saturation about 10 points in order to create a stronger emphasis on these elements since they create the dramatic movement in the photo.
One of my goals was for the final image not to be overtly “HDR.” So how do you think I did? Any areas that stick out to you?
Before and After Photos
My ideal morning starts by waking up around 10am and involves another hour of burrowing in warm blankets. Sadly, as a photographer, this fantasy is only a plague on my mind when trying to capture the early morning rays. Especially in winter. Especially in Montreal. And so, at the snot freezing, digit disabling, toe numbing temperature of -25°F (-32°C, and that’s without the windchill coming off the St.Lawrence), I found myself in Habitat 67 starring at some of the most marvelous modern architecture on Earth, and I was completely grumpy about it. With sunrise angles and times calculated, reference images found, and even a new wide angle lens purchased, all that remained was to have fun and take the photos. Thankfully, Habitat 67 is quite photographic and the light was still low enough to play well with the boxy architecture. Also, I was glad that no one was around to watch as I was forced to warm my completely deadened fingers in the warmed place I could find… (desperate times call for desperate measures, don’t judge me). Moving quickly, I raced against my own diminishing body temperature to photograph the campus. Although I didn’t get a good look inside, based on the exterior aesthetics, I would assume that the interiors of these units are equally as functional. This place would be (and perhaps already is) the perfect place for a thriving hipster community. Although, I’m sure hipsters would have their own take on that idea.
After about 40 minutes I had hit my limit and headed back to Lori who was waiting patiently nearby in the car. One of the last photos of Habitat 67 I took was the lead image of this post and was a photo I had envisioned while planning the shoot. We concluded the morning by heading to the nearby Casino du Montreal to just “look around.” One thing lead to another and after a very short time we found ourselves enjoying their mouth watering lunch buffet.
About Habitat 67 – It’s cool to be smart
This inspiring architectural feat was designed and built for the World’s Fair in 1967, called Expo 67, by internationally acclaimed Moshe Safdie, an Israeli-Canadian architect. Interestingly, this was the first building ever constructed by Safdie as he was still in the infancy of his career when approached to adapt his master’s thesis into the pavilion for the World’s Fair. The complex of Habitat 67 is composed of 354 prefabricated concrete forms combined to make 148 apartments. Habitat 67 is a still a functioning residential campus. One site quoted monthly rent of a 4 unit apartment (3000 sq ft) at $4000. For more on Habitat 67, visit the official page here or the Wikipedia page here.
Post processing of lead image
- 7 Bracketed photos taken one shutter stop apart
- Chromatic aberration sensor dust and lens distortion corrected in Lightroom
- Tone mapped in Photomatix
- Tone map and sources blended and masked together in Photoshop
- Edited in Photoshop with with multiple Curves and HSL adjustment layers. Then re-edited the following morning because my first attempt was way too gloomy and dark.
- Sharpened using high pass filter
Before Photoshop Edits
After Photoshop Edits
Any photo hit-list for Montreal is incomplete without the lavishly decorated Notre Dame Basilica. Still a fully functioning Catholic cathedral, I have one important piece of advice for successfully photographing the gorgeous interior of this place: DON”T GO DURING SUNDAY MORNING MASS! Lori, our friend Natalie, and I thought it was our lucky day when there was no attendant at the entrance counter. As I tromped in, I recall exclaiming something enthusiastic like, “Boardwalk and Park Place guys! This usually costs like 5 buc- Wow, wait. I think they’re praying.” As silently as possible, the two ladies helped me collect my shattered dignity from the beautifully tiled floor, and we regrouped at a nearby cafe.
Since I obviously did not take pictures during the service, we returned once mass had ended, paid our $5 and shot until early afternoon. Aside from the multifaceted main sanctuary, there’s also a little known private chapel with some stellar spiral staircases in the back right corner which was equally delightful to photograph (see below).
- 9 bracketed NEF files imported to Adobe Lightroom 3 and converted to DNG
- Lens corrections and manual chromatic abberation correction in LR3
- Tone Mapped in Photomatix 4
- Tone mapped image blended with original source images
- Edited and polished in Photoshop CS5
- Final HDR photo re-imported to LR3 for sharpening and adding a slight vignette (once I move to PS, I usually stay there… I’m not sure what my logic was for re-importing to Lightroom… but that’s how it went down)
Back Chapel of Notre Dame
Inside the stunning sanctuary of Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal, there’s a lesser known private chapel in the back right corner that I knew about from a previous visit. At the front there’s an amazing floor to ceiling sculpture. They say that even seeing just a photo of this moving work has been known to calm crying babes, warm Scroogey hearts and lower LDL cholesterol. (Scroogey: Scrooge-like. Now you know.) Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for that revelatory moment since this post features a photo of the back of the chapel.
Below I’ve outlined my workflow for creating this HDR photo for the more curious HDR photography enthusiasts out there. One thing I’ve been working hard at with my HDR photography is to control the glow-y effect that tone mapping in Photomatix creates. I’ve learned that this happens for a number of reasons as Photomatix spreads out the luminescence of the composite 32-bit TIFF it creates. With this in mind, I’ve tried to ease up on the luminescence slider and tend to keep it between -2 and 6. When things start to look to ambient, I pull back and start adjusting the white point slider.
STEP 1) Bracketed Photos Tone Mapped in Photomatix
(For a good time, click images to enlarge then use your ↞/→ keys.)
STEP 2) Blend Tone Mapped Image with Originals in Photoshop
Trey Ratcliff likes to merge layers as he masks and blends, but this linear irreversible workflow freaks me out. For this reason I like to combine my layers into nested groups with masks as I go. Although it’s very possible to accomplish the same results without groups, as I’m editing, they help me stay mentally organized and clear up confusion about which layers I’m masking.