Friday, March 14, 2014

Press Day at the Luminarium at Discovery Green

I intended to post what follows to the NWHPC Meet Up site but it was too long so I moved it here.
If you enjoy working with color. If you enjoy discovering line and shape. If you just like being in a really weird but special place you must go to the Architect of Air luminarium.

For those that do not know what a luminarium is it is an inflatable playhouse you would have given your eye teeth for when you were a kid but didn’t know it. It’s a fun house for kids of all ages even seventy-five year olds. It is an inflatable building of unbelievably lit rooms connected by tunnels. It's like taking a weird trip through your digestive system.or blood vessels. LOL

I know no one gives a hoot about how I shot the luminarium but sometimes people do ask so I will share along with my list of things you should do.

(1) take the very widest and fastest lens that you own—or rent or borrow one. All of the light in the luminarium comes from the sunlight coming through translucent colored panels. Actually the luminarium is a deadly dull gray inside—you are photographing the light from the colored panels. DO NOT even consider flash—you might as well say home and save your $10. Almost all of the photos I posted were shot with the equivalent of a 35mm lens. I am going back with the Nikon and use the 17-35mm. May even take the 11mm. It is not very bright so you need to have as fast a lens as possible. I have a f/2.8 and was shooting at 800 ISO. I shot manual and did a lot of setting changes. Depended on the Histrogram and went to the left. .(sidenote: about 30 photographers shot the luminarium today--Debi was the only one using a tripod. The rest of us upped ISO and hand held. Tripods will be difficult on the days the crowds are there.)

(2) Don’t concern yourself with ‘true’ color or accurate exposure. If you do, you are going to come home with dull washed out photographs. Underexpose! It is much better, IMHO, to apply a little noise reduction and end up with rich, vibrant, image empowering color. That’s an opinion.

(3) Last year the reds came out orange. The greens were gosh awful dull. Experience is a good teacher. This year I shot on AUTO WB and processed the RAW files as SHADE. Did wonders for the reds and the greens.

(4) As I suggested, I shot on 800 ISO, applied a small amount of noise correction to compensate for both the increased ISO and for the underexposure—both contribute noise. Then I added a very, very small amount of local tone mapping which seems to give an additional roundness to the surfaces. Not an absolute but the way I did it.

Last tip. If you can possibly go Monday the 17th and give them you email address at the ticket booth you can get in for half price, $5.

Beauregard and I were able to get in today for the press tour when there were less than thirty people outside of the staff. It won’t be that way for the rest of the time it is here. Lines will be long, time inside will be limited and it will be difficult to get a photograph without someone in it—but believe me it will be worth it anyway. It's a great place for people pictures.

Here is a link to my blog ( I will not get them all processed for a day or so) and click on the Flickr or the Photonet links on the right. If you are interested come back later to see all of the photos. Flickr will be in the March set and Photonet will be in the Recent Images folder.

The AofA is from Australia. Thanks to my Olympus, we got to talk to the man that travels with the luminaruium. Quite a nice chap that shoots the Olympus M1. He came over because he noticed my camera. We had a great talk about cameras in addition to the luminarium. Almost threw a shrimp on the barbie.


This is Debi talking to the guy from Australia. I thought he said he designed the luminarium but Debi says that is wrong.

This is using on camera flash set to -3 compensation to open up the shadows
ADDENDUM:  For some reason the colors seem washed out on this site. Take the Photonet link in the upper right of the home page and look at Recent Images. The colors are much closer there to what I have processed.


  1. AWESOME photos, Gary!!! (except for the ones that look like sorta like my recent colonoscopy ones). lol Seriously, they are gorgeous and I appreciate all the great tips as well. Some of the processing is more sophisticated than I can do, but it will be fun to see what I can come up with. I''m going to try to make it on the last day, so it will probably be a zoo! I look forward to seeing more.

  2. Jan, thank you. I am a little disappointed in the colors on this site, the last to in particular. Click on the Flickr link and look at them there because they appear much closer to the colors I processed.

  3. Sorry, look in the Photonet link. Flickr is acting up again so right now I can't post.

  4. Saw them on photonet. Every one is beautiful, and all so very different. Would make a nice gallery collection!

  5. Thank you, Jan. Still got a lot that I haven't had time to process. Heated for Hooks Airport to photograph the Collingsworth Foundation WWII planes at sunrise. Was hoping for inclement weather to add a little atmosphere.