The Compton Hill water tower is a stunning monument to an era when form and beauty were as important as function. The Tower, was designed by Harvey Ellis, for the firm of George R. Mann in 1897. Located in St Louis, MO it is one of only seven of these structures still standing in the United States. The Tower was an immediate tourist attraction and a highlight for visitors to St. Louis for the 1904 World’s Fair. The water tower is a standpipe encased in an architectural tower and was a critical part of the City’s early water system. The standpipe absorbed surges from the late-19th-century reciprocating water pumps, ensuring consistent water pressure. Because of its height in comparison to surrounding structures, a lantern was positioned at the windows at night to provide a point of reference to travelers. In use until 1929, today it stands as a historical monument to a time long past. Situated next the tower is a modern reservoir that has been designed to match the style of the Tower.
For my shoot, I wanted to capture the look and feel of the tower without any reference to time. I wanted to capture the full range of IR options, Monochrome, Enhanced Color, and Super Color. My challenges: The tower stands 179 feet high and is 130 feet around at the base; it sits on a relatively small plot of land, so my angles will need to be positioned just right to not get the surrounding modern structures in. I wanted a partly cloudy day, as the clouds will help give images depth. There is also a lily pond adjacent to the Tower and large statue dedicated to the Newspaper industry. My intention was position shots with the Lily pond at the base, but unfortunately the pond is being restored and is drained, limiting shooting angles even further.
I used two different IR converted bodies, one at 590nm, a Super Color conversion and one at 665nm, an Enhanced Color conversion. The lens was a Tamron Ultra wide 10-24mm to make the most of the area. Images were shot on a tripod in a series of three -1,0,+1 for each image to use in creating HDR images. To get as much depth as possible, everything was shot f8.0 or higher. Cameras were white balanced using a patch of grass in a neutral lit area. The finished RAW images were adjusted, some with a second white balance using the trees as a reference, and some using the stone or concrete as a reference. HDR images were created using PhotoShop with NIK HDR efex Pro2, and NIK Color Efex Pro4. Monochrome images were created using NIK Silver Efex Pro2 and Filter Forge4 White Photo.
The shoot time was relatively short, less than 30 minutes, but I think the finished product does the mighty structure justice. What do you think?