Heals Golden Spiral

June 26, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Heals Golden Spiral FinalHeals Golden Spiral Final

This image was taken on my latest day trip to London last Monday. It is the beautiful spiral staircase at Heals Department Store, Tottenham Court Road and has been on my places to visit list for a while. I did have a Tripod with me but did not use it due to lack of space on the stairs and also the need to lean over the railings to get in the entire top circle.

Unlike some locations the Store is Photographer friendly. The only person to approach me told me I could find more information about the history of the Staircase at the Stores Website. The Stairs are part of an extension to the original 19th-century Heal's building completed in 1916 by architect Cecil Brewer and are known as the Brewer Staircase.

The picture was taken handheld with a Sony A700 with a Sigma 10-20 lens at 10mm. ISO was set at 1000 to gain higher shutter speed. 3 raw images were taken at 2EV spacing. Opened in Photoshop first and each image noise reduced with Noiseware Pro and saved as tiffs. To get more detail under the stairs I used the +2 EV RAW file to increase exposure by 2EV to get a 4th exposure.


The 4 images at 2EV separation were outputted in Photomatix detail enhancer.


Topaz Adjust was used to bring in more detail using Vibrant Presets Group, Colour Blast Preset.

General adjustments in levels to lighten a little with a layer mask and brush used to exclude highlights.

Vibrance reduced slightly by 4 points.

Brightness increased by 26 points with a layer mask used to exclude highlights.

The original image had a number of the bulbs with the lights out. To get a full circle I used a number of selections of lights copied onto a blank canvas and then pasted into the image to replace the missing lights. To get the lights to line up I selected the layer with a light and then edit free transform to get a square surrounding the pasted light and used the corner arrows to line up the light. The move tool was used to get it into exactly the right location.

Layers flattened before going on to sharpening.

Duplicate layer Noiseware Pro and a little sharpening.

Second duplicate layer with mask to apply extra sharpening and contrast with low amount and high radius using Unsharp mask (Clarity Effect) The settings were 42 amount and 42 radius. A layer mask was used to exclude this effect from some highlights.

The healing brush and clone tool were used to remove the distracting light fittings from the right of the picture.


Below are the Before and After images. First the original. Then the tonemapped image and then the final result.

Original at 0EV

Heals Golden Spiral OriginalHeals Golden Spiral Original

Tonemapped image

Heals Golden Spiral TonemappedHeals Golden Spiral Tonemapped

Final Image

Heals Golden Spiral FinalHeals Golden Spiral Final

For licences see Heals Golden Spiral

Edwin Jones


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