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Chihuly @OKCMOA

I’ve visited the Oklahoma City Museum of Art many times. I’ve seen the glory of its visiting exhibits and modern art, but one portion of the museum never ceases to catch my attention – Dale Chihuly: The Collection.

I had photographed portions of the exhibit before but never intently and intensely as I did upon this visit. I had been surprised with a visit earlier in the week but had very little time to really plan out or shoot any photos. Upon my return later in the week, gear in hand, I set out to capture Chihuly’s works as best I could. It’s really difficult to photograph glass like this in its resting environment. The light bounces in all different directions from multiple sources illuminating the exhibit.

I took my own approach to highlighting his work by separating it from the surroundings. When visiting in person, distractions aren’t as much of an issue. The human eye can focus on details and shutout the errata of the rest of the room. Taking photos of an exhibit like this isn’t as easy. I determined the best approach was to shoot bracketed photos at f/8.0 (for the most part) at varying shutter speeds with a fixed ISO of 100. I then used Photomatix to kick out a baseline HDR that appealed to my taste and then exposure blended it with a single modified frame (typically the 0 EV shot) in Photoshop.

The shot that took the most time in post is actually all HDR (no exposure blending). I took a complete shot (7 positions) of the Oklahoma Persian Ceiling. The length of the ceiling is (based on estimation of memory) about 50 feet. If this was a flat two dimensional element the process would have been automatic and painless but as you’ll see in the photo, I was dealing with two, three and sometimes four layers of objects resting on a clear glass ceiling. Each independent shot looked great but every time I moved there were serious parallax issues creating havoc on creating a clean, properly proportioned photo merge. It wasn’t really a panoramic shot because every frame was taken at the exact same angle and elevation. It’s more analogous to a photocopy or a scan of a document…I really big document.

Enjoy the gallery, but make a special effort to visit the exhibit, as well as the museum’s other offerings, on your own.