How Photographer Rick Sammon Shot the Blue Swallow Motel in HDR

Barbara Merkley

motel building

Photographer Rick Sammon employed HDR pictures to seize the historic Blue Swallow Motel in New Mexico along the legendary U.S. Route 66. His concentrate was on obtaining the foreground tones and mood in the backlit scene.

Built in 1939, the Blue Swallow is one of the longest continuously operating motels on the New Mexico extend of Route 66. The tiny 12-device, L-shaped property is a famous sight on the highway and is mentioned in the Countrywide Register of Historic Locations

Sammon’s picture of the landmark was made as a 7-quit exposure sequence to document the rising Sunshine at 8:30 am in March 2013. Sammon needed the viewer of his photo to be in a position to see into the building, but he also required to maintain the information all-around the Sun.

This photograph was made on Canon EOS 6D with Canon EF 17-40mm lens set at 24mm and f/22.

The resulting visuals had been compiled in Photomatix, a tone mapping method for HDR (High Dynamic Range) pictures, immediately after which Sammon performed close to in Photoshop and with Nik Coloration Efex.

Placing a Objective in Photography

“I planned to acquire this graphic when I was in New York,” explains the NY-centered Sammon, who is also a images and guitar trainer. “I checked the sunrise time to see where the Solar would rise on the working day I’d be there… I experienced viewed many images of the motel, so I experienced a excellent thought of what I preferred.

“I preferred to make a extraordinary picture of maybe the most famed landmark on Route 66 for the go over of my book, co-authored with my wife Susan, The Route 66 Street Vacation: Take in, Continue to be, Participate in and Shoot Like a Professional.

The Top secret of Acquiring a Excellent HDR

“To seize the complete dynamic array of the scene, keep taking underexposed photos [with bracketing] until you have no “blinkies” on your camera’s Liquid crystal display monitor, and preserve using overexposed photographs until you can see into the shadows in the image although on the lookout at the Lcd check,” writes Rick Sammon on his website. “The better the contrast vary, the increased the quantity of photographs you will need to just take.”

Photographer Rick Sammon
Photographer Rick Sammon. “This Costa Rica pink-eye tree frog ought to have listened to one of my Sammonisms: When you assume you’re near, get nearer!” he states. © Susan Sammon

There was not substantially considered applied to lens focal size selection as this was all about colour and the mood it designed. Sammon recognized small aspects like the blue flowerpot that was there in entrance of the workplace constructing. The night time before, the photographer questioned the motel owner to change his automobile around to face him when he took the picture with the sunshine mounting from driving.

Using a Small Aperture for Sunstars

To get great sunbursts, Sammon closed down his zoom lens to its minimum amount aperture of f/22 and partially blocked the Solar with the motel indicator for a superior sunstar influence and to avoid getting excessive flare in the lens.

Even though this is a backlit shot, the ground provides more than enough fill light for the entrance of the auto, and the HDR pulls out depth from the shadows on the white car. Also, when shooting at f/22 at this distance, there is no chance of illuminating shadows with a sizzling shoe flash.

Acquiring the neon lights turned on for this shot might have weakly registered, but Sammon desired this early morning shot to be completely distinct from a different night a single, which experienced the neon lights on in all their glory.

“I waited until eventually there have been no cars on the street,” remembers Sammon. “But only 3 autos handed in the course of my shoot.”

Contrasting Tones for Visual Exhilaration

The juxtaposition of awesome blue tones of the signage and sky above the heart contrasting with the warm pink tones below of the motel office environment provides the distinction of clashing color strategies. This imparts visual enjoyment to the picture. Route 66 is all about color, and this similar picture, if completed in B&W, would not have worked as nicely, claims Sammon.

The photographer put in only fifty percent an hour on this shoot — after he had decided on the necessary composition he desired, he set up a tripod and took the bracketed sequence.

motel building
Sammon watering down the concrete in preparation for the evening shot © Susan Sammon

Dawn or Sunset?

If the motel experienced commissioned the photographer, he could possibly have included a product in “1960s clothes,” he claims, and he would unquestionably shoot equally sunrise and sunset. He has photographed this assets 2 times, a few yrs aside but only at sunrise and sunset on both situations.


In the sunset shot the photographer’s experienced his rental car or truck headlights illuminating the entrance of the parked automobile, but Sammon claims he prefers the sunrise a person.

For all the effort set in, it was absolutely well worth it, as Sammon tells us that his picture of the Tucumcari, New Mexico-based mostly Blue Swallow motel image is surely in his top rated 10 photographs.

“It’s not about HDR or depth-of-industry or sharpness and so on,” Sammon tells PetaPixel. “Mood matters most.”

About the photographer: Rick Sammon, a Canon Explorer of Mild, has been a specialist photographer of travel, landscape, wildlife, and society given that he was 40 (now 71). He has prepared, photographed, and printed 43 (not a misprint) books on images. Sammon seems to be one of the most lively photographers on the earth – dividing his time among making photographs, top picture workshops, and building personal appearances. Sammon, who has photographed in over 100 countries, started his experienced photography vocation as an underwater photographer, developing six underwater books and foremost scuba diving expeditions to the 7 Seas.

About the creator: Phil Mistry is a photographer and trainer based mostly in Atlanta, GA. He began just one of the 1st electronic camera courses in New York City at The International Center of Pictures in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Well-liked Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him here.

How I Received the Shot is a weekly PetaPixel feature that is published each individual Sunday. If you would like to share the tale of how a person of your greatest or most loved images was designed, we would adore to listen to from you!

Graphic credit history: Sammon watering down the concrete and Sammon with purple-eyed frog by Susan Sammon. All other photographs Blue Swallow motel by Rick Sammon.

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