Many visions of Grand Central my photos, my words

Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (base photo).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (high dynamic range, or HDR, processing).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (gritty grunge process for a dark, moody feel).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (bleach bypass processing to reduce saturation, increase contrast).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (photo with a leather texture overlay).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (dreamlike glow processing).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (black and white with dreamlike glow effect).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (deep blacks with soft glow).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (sepia toned black and white).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (normal black and white).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (black and white processed with a blue filter to deepen shadows).
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (black and white processed to create a pencil sketch look).

This photo of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal was taken in November 2007 near the end of the morning rush.

Okay, I know I have 12 separate treatments, or versions, of the photo displayed above. So you may be asking which is the photo I shot that November morning.

My answer would be: I shot ALL of the photos that morning. The base photograph — travelers rushing through the Main Concourse as the morning sun streams through large windows on the east side of the building — is always the same. The treatment I prefer will vary depending on the mood I’m trying to create or, at times, the mood I’m in.

That’s the beauty of digital photography and post-processing in Photoshop or other similar editing software (these edits were made in Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop, and in On1’s Perfect Effects). There are so many things you can do to have the final version of the photo match the version that’s in the photographer’s head. The same effects could be created in the pre-digital era, but they were much more difficult to accomplish.

Let me be clear, I’m not a big fan of photo manipulation like the fashion magazines do. Yes, I can make a person look slimmer in a photo, fix a crooked nose or a crooked smile or improve spacing between eyes. I can add people to photos or subtract objects from photos. But I don’t do that, except for obvious artistic photo-compositions like the image with the hand holding a brush painting a black-and-white version of the Grand Central photo.

Maybe it’s my newspaper background, but I prefer a photograph represent reality.

The question is, what is reality?

In my many versions of the Grand Central photo, the contents of the image (the building, the flags, the sun reflecting off the floor, the motion of the travelers) remain the same. I didn’t add or subtract elements. The photo is the photo.

But adjusting the contrast or color tone, adding depth by deepening the shadows, highlighting the detail in the block walls or dropping all color to create a black-and-white image can significantly change the mood created by the photograph. It’s something photographers have done since Louis Daguerre developed the daguerreotype process that was commercially introduced in 1839. Capture a scene on a metal plate (as Daguerre did) or, in later years, on a negative, or today in a digital file, then work to get the final print or final image to match how your eyes and brain saw the scene.

So I guess the best question is: What did I see on that November morning when I pressed the shutter button to capture this Grand Central Terminal scene to a digital file?

I saw lines and light and motion and detail, the compositional elements that make the photograph visually pleasing. That’s the never-changing base canvas I work with. Everything else is cosmetic.

By the way, the correct name of this site is Grand Central Terminal, although people refer to it as Grand Central Station — the name of the facility on the site before Grand Central Terminal was completed in 1913, and the name of the U.S. Post Office station next door.

I do have more photos of Grand Central, both interiors and exteriors. I always try to hit that area every trip to New York. The energy level inside the building is incredible, especially during morning or evening rush. It’s one of the iconic — and recognizable — New York City locations. I have some of those other photos in the grid that follows the 13 treatments, or versions, of the Grand Central main concourse below.

Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (normal color processing).
High dynamic range, or HDR, processing.
Processed for a gritty grunge look for a dark, moody feel.
Bleach bypass processing to reduce saturation, increase contrast.
Photo with a leather texture overlay for an aged look.
Processed for a dreamlike glow effect.
Black and white with dreamlike glow effect.
Normal black and white.
Sepia toned black and white.
Processed to create deep blacks with a soft glow effect.
Black and white processed with a blue filter to deepen shadows.
Black and white processed to create a pencil sketch look.
Painting the pencil sketch black and white version.
The clock mounted above the information booth in the center of Grand Central Terminal's Main Concourse is often referred to as the the most recognized icon in the busy New York train station. The clock has four faces, each made from opal, and serves as a frequent meeting place ("I'll wait near the clock").
Grand Central facade with Tiffany glass clock, New York City.
Travelers rush through the main concourse inside Grand Central Terminal, New York City (base photo).
People move down the passage toward the subway station in Grand Central Terminal, New York City.
Looking down the passage toward the Lexington Avenue exit from Grand Central Terminal, New York City.
Travelers walk down the ramp from the main concourse to the dining area in Grand Central Terminal, New York City.
Travelers enter and exit the main concourse at Grand Central Terminal, New York City.
The morning sun shines through the east window of Grand Central Terminal, New York City.
Grand Central Station, shot from 41st Street and Park Avenue, where Park Avenue elevates above 42nd Street and goes around the station.
Travelers walk up the ramp leading to the main concourse of New York's Grand Central Station.
The facade of Grand Central Terminal is well lit on a late November evening. in New York City. The Chrysler Building is in the background.
A platform on the west staircase serves as an overlook for the main concourse in Grand Central Terminal, New York City.
Holiday weekend crowd in Grand Central Terminal, New York City.
A view of 42nd Street at night outside Grand Central Station (lower left) with the Chrysler Building standing tall in the background, New York City.
The Chrysler Building stands against a blue sky above Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
Grand Central Terminal shortly before the post-5 p.m. rush, New York City.
Click on a photo to see a larger version.
Created By
Pat Hemlepp
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Credits:

Photos and text by Pat D. Hemlepp

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