New High Line HDR pano and an unexpected find

The free sIBL set of January was taken at New York's fabulous High Line park. It's one of these elevated subway lines you probably remember from BeatStreet, but converted into a public park. It's really cool. On your next New York visit you should definitely put the High Line in the Meatpacking district on your sightseeing list!

This pano was shot back in 2010 when this section of the High Line was still under construction. What attracted me was this unique mix of outdoor/indoor lighting, and I imagined all these fluorescent tubes would look great in reflections. And sure enough, they do! Here is a CG car model placed in this environment:

Rendered in modo and post-processed in Magic Bullet PhotoLooks. Mind you, setting up this scene took 10 seconds. With sIBL it's all automatic, including the ground shadow. Here is a screenshot.

Aside from the easy lighting setup, the sIBL system also provides a much better way of organizing and cataloging HDR environments. Searchable keywords, metadata and the GPS map make it a real joy to browse for the right environment for a CG model. Here is what that looks like it sIBL-GUI.

Of course, the browser can only be as good as the metadata entered in each sIBL set. So for creating these sets I habitually pinpoint the location by revisiting it in Google Earth. That often sends me on a nice trip down the memory lane. When I was looking for the High Line I noticed how well defined Google's 3D model of New York nowadays is.

The big surprise came when I zoomed in further. Suddenly I found myself in Google Street View, witnessing this strange scene:

Hmm. A couple, a photographer, two cops, and a man on the ground. What is going on here? Does anybody have a good caption for this image? Because I'm at a loss…

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