HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello


End of the day

So today’s the last day on the old blog.  You know, six months ago I probably would not even care.  But I’ve gotten used to how things work around here, got used to the format, how to post, add pictures.  I’m sorry, I didn’t want to get emotional *sniff *sniff*…

Ok, well now that THAT’S done with, I really am excited.  I’ve spent a ton of time this week getting everything ready, and while it may be a few weeks until I am at the level I’d like to be at, I have it in a pretty good place right now.  So tomorrow, when you all go to visit hdrexposed.wordpress.com, you will be taken to the new site.  I’m anxious to hear all of your opinions, so please let me know what you think.

Today’s shot was meant to be a bit symbolic of the setting sun, moving a new site, you get the idea.  I took this last week at a school near our house where my wife and I will go play basketball in the evening sometimes.  I was really impressed with the lack of noise in this shot, as I had forgotten to change my camera settings and was at ISO 1,000.  With my old D40X, if I used ISO 400 I got visible noise, but it seemed like the D700 handled it just fine.

The HDR is made up of 7 handheld brackets processed with Photomatix then edited in CS5.  I did some slight shadow and highlight adjustment to start off with, then added a blue curves adjustment layer for the sky.  Added a very slight Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex as well as a Local Contrast boost and Turbo Boost in onOne PhotoTools.  Added a bit of Clarity as well and called it a day.

See you all on the new site tomorrow.  Take care.

Fight to the finish

How about some good news to start off the day?  Made some great progress on the website last night, so Friday will be the official launch day.  At that time, all traffic will be directed to the new site, which is at www…..actually, why don’t I just wait until Friday.

For today’s shot we head to the Pittsburgh Zoo, where my wife and I went on Sunday to enjoy some of the nice weather we were (and still are) having.  I went about 10 years and had been to the zoo once, and now I have gone three times in the past year.  I really do enjoy it there, partly because you see something new every time you go.  This time was no exception.  The first time we strolled by the tiger cage, all three of them were sleeping, once was rolling around a bit, but nothing exciting.  Since we had to walk by them again on the way out, I thought we should take one more look.  I’m glad we did, because the two cubs were wrestling around and I got some of the best shots I have ever gotten at the zoo.  I think that this one is my favorite, with both of them on their hind legs going after each other.

Just a bit of processing on this one.  Straightened the image and did a little bit of color correction.  Desaturated the greens and saturated the oranges, applied a Tonal Contrast filter as well as a Pro Contrast filter.  Finally, added some Progressive Sharpening in onOne and called it a day.

Two more days til Friday and the new site.  Can’t wait for either.

For my next trick

It’s been a few days since I have been around the blogging world and for that I apologize.  Been a bit busy with the whole holiday weekend, enjoying the nice weather than finally arrived.  I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on my new website, which I am still hoping to have up and live by the end of the week and I’m definitely pretty excited about it.  I’ll keep everyone updated as to the status of it.

Since I missed Candid Monday yesterday, I’ll do a Candid Tuesday, which is kind of like Monday since I wasn’t around yesterday.  We don’t really have a whole lot of street performers in Pittsburgh, except really in Market Square, which is where this was taken.  I wouldn’t even call this guy a street performer, more along the lines of someone with a hoop.  He actually had about five hoops with him with different colors, designs and so on.  I held my camera up to him, and gave a “You mind if I take a few pictures?” look, he shook his head and continued his routine.

Some pretty light processing on this one.  A little bit of color correction and exposure adjustment to bring back some of the blown out areas and also a Tonal Contrast and Pro Contrast filter applied in Color Efex.  Straightened the shot out a bit, added the logo and shared it with you.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that everyone celebrating this weekend had a great Memorial Day.

Open to possibilities

A quick post today, as I have some stuff to wrap up at work before the long holiday weekend.  Website is coming along as well, and I’m still targeting to get it up and running by the end of next weekend but seeing as I’ve never done this kind of thing before, we’ll see.


Another shot from the Pirate game I went to a couple weeks ago.  One of my favorite things about PNC Park is the fact that you can see the city skyline from pretty much every seat in the stadium.  This is a view from one of the rotundas leading to the upper levels.

For this I combined 5 handheld exposures in Photomatix, then tonemapped the +2 exposure to mask in both the flag and the people, as they were both obviously moving.  The scoreboard had changed between shots too, so I took the -1 exposure to mask that back in.  Finally, Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast and Progressive Sharpening filters were added, along with a desaturation layer to finish the shot.

I hope all of you who are celebrating Memorial Day (and those of your who aren’t) have a great weekend.  See you on Monday.

Focused on the now

­I don’t normally get too philosophical on my posts, but today I think I might, as this will be a shorter post.

It seems like we (myself included) are always looking ahead, looking forward to something in the future, be it a vacation, a wedding, a graduation, holiday, or simply the weekend.  Most of the time, there is nothing wrong with that at all, especially in regards to major life events, like a wedding or the birth of a child.  Life goes by so quick and when we spend time hoping and waiting for things to come, it can make it go even quicker.  Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and take a look around us to enjoy where we are and what we are doing right now.  If we spend every day just waiting for tomorrow, have we really gotten everything we could out of today?

On to today’s shot, which inspired the sentiment of my blog today.  I’ve taken a shot similar to this in downtown Pittsburgh before, and while I really like it, I took that shot in the middle of the day, so the light was pretty harsh and the background was just ok.  I like this one a lot better, because the background, even though it is out of focus, gives you a wider variety of colors.  I even snuck a sunflare in there, which I didn’t think that I would be able to get at f4.

This is a seven exposure HDR that I laid on the road and blocked traffic to get and then processed in Photomatix.  I had to do a little masking on the upper left and right hand corners of the shot to get rid of minor haloing there.  I boosted overall saturation, as well as added a curves layer of green and yellow to enhance the trees and line on the road.  Finally I added a Tonal Contrast filter (Color Efex) and Turbo Boost filter (onOne PhotoTools) to complete the shot.

Thanks for stopping by guys and gals, see you tomorrow.

Topsy turvy

Well, I finally took the plunge.  Went out a registered a domain and am in the process of completely revamping my blog/website.  I’m not exactly sure how long the whole process is going to take, but I hope to have everything up and running by the end of next week, so stay tuned.  I also wanted to say a big thank you to Chris Frailey, who even got his wife involved in answering some questions I had, and also to Jason Hines and Chris Nitz, who also were able to help me.  All three of these guys are fine photographers; please make sure to check out their sites if you haven’t already.

For today’s shot we head to Delaware Park in Buffalo, New York, where I was on Saturday afternoon for a friend’s wedding, just in attendance, not as the photographer.  On a side note, they had four photographers at their wedding, which I had never seen before.  Anyways, we had about two and half hours to kill between the ceremony and the reception and since it was a beautiful day, we opted to find a park to hang out at.  This was the closest, so we made our way down there.  We saw a bunch of different weddings come through, which was extremely interesting to see, as there were brides, grooms and bridal parties of all makes and models.

This is a five exposure HDR processed with Photomatix and then kicked over the CS5.  I first did an overall curves adjustment, then opened it in onOne PhotoTools.  I applied the WoW Landscape filter and then a slight Firenze filter, to give it the bit of a reddish hue.  Next up was Color Efex, where I added a Pro Contrast filter and the vignette.  Removed a few dust spots, flipped it on its head, and shipped it off to the blog.  Enjoy.

Happy Wednesday everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Cutting through

Thanks for all of you who stopped by on the first candid Monday yesterday.  I think that I keep them going, so look for more in the coming weeks.

Back to the HDRs and sunflares today.  It was kind of an accident how I stumbled across how to do sunflares, and before that I never even though to shoot directly into the sun.  I never really knew that to get those sharp, pinpoint flares early in my photographic/HDR career, I was just taking pictures.  One day I was out on my front porch trying fiddling around with HDRs and after scrolling through my brackets on the LCD I exited out of the menu but kept scrolling, which set my aperture to f22.  I lined up the next shot and fired off the shots, downloaded them on my computer and was a little curious as to why this one shot looked different than the rest.  I checked the EXIF and saw the aperture was f22 and I was hooked.

This particular sunflare is over downtown Pittsburgh during rush hour earlier this month.  I had to wait around for about 10 minutes to get everyone out of the scene, and just when I was ready to take the shot, this kid came and say down on the bench.  After seeing that he wasn’t going to leave, I took the shot anyway, and left him in to give the scene a bit of a human element.  It was pretty windy on this particular day, so I had some motion blur in the trees, which I actually chose not to mask out, the reason being that it made the scene look a little too static for my liking.

This is a 5 exposure handheld HDR processed with Photomatix and then shipped over to CS5.  I added blue, green and red adjustment layers for the sky, grass and trees, respectively, and also added a very slight shadow adjust to bring back some of the buildings, as they were fairly dark.  Ran it though Color Efex to give it a Tonal Contrast filter and that was that.

Take care until tomorrow.

Taking it all in

Happy Monday everyone, I hope that you all had a great and relaxing weekend.  Even if it wasn’t relaxing, I hope that it was still great.  We had two beautiful days in a row here in Pittsburgh, which hasn’t happened for months.  More storms to come this week, but for now, we are enjoying the nice weather.

I was thinking about maybe starting some kind of a theme day on the blog, given that I have posted candids on consecutive Mondays.  I’m not sure how many I will be able to post in a row, as I have a very limited backlog of them, but I’ll give it a shot.  Today, I introduce Candid Mondays.

Back to Mt. Washington we go, to continue with shots from Mothers’ day a few weeks ago.  Like I’ve said before, I had the telephoto lens on for most of the day/evening, trying to branch out from my current wide angle addiction and this is one of the results.  I was heading back down Grandview Avenue, the main drag through the hill top community to get some HDRs from the very overlook that these two were standing on.  Unlike the candid I posted last Monday, which was a hurry up and get the camera up as fast I could shot, this was a little bit easier to capture.

Simple processing here.  Opened the RAW in Photoshop, desaturated the entire image and increased the vibrance.  Brought back some of the saturation of the reds and greens, and increased both the black levels and overall contrast.  Added a very slight Tonal Contrast filter to everything but the sky, a Pro Contrast filter to the entire image, and the Hollywood Effect in onOne software to polish to it.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the inaugural Candid Monday.  Back to the HDRs tomorrow.

Catching some air

So this is my first ever Saturday post.  Well, I think that it is.  If it isn’t my first, then it is definitely my second.

Since today is one of the first nice day’s that we’ve had in weeks, I felt compelled to post a fun, sunny, summer picture, even though it is not technically summer yet.  This will be a quick post and run, as I am heading to a wedding today, not to shoot, just to observe, but I may have to take a few picture anyways.

This is a friend’s boyfriend end, catching some air behind a wakeboard boat.  Believe it or not, he just started wakeboarding at the beginning of the summer, and I think that he caught on pretty fast.  I was actually just starting to get ok myself, but then the summer ended, and the boat got put away.  I’ll have to add that to my list of goals for this summer.

Processing on this one was pretty minor.  Did some slight color adjustments, added a Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex and lightened the shadows on Ed, as he was a bit shadowy.  Added a Progressive Sharpening in onOne and that’s that.

Enjoy your weekends, see you on Monday.

Device confusion

Some weeks seem to take longer to get to Friday, but once it’s here, everything is all right.  Happy Friday everyone.


How about something completely different for today?  I’ve been wanting to create this shot for a while now, and even though I took it a few weeks ago, I didn’t get around to processing it until yesterday.  Back in mid March I finally got my iPad 2 (didn’t have the first one) and I wanted to take advantage of the camera that it is equipped with.  Now, just because I have an iPhone, iPod, iPad 2 and an iMac does not make me one of those people who denounce all that technology that is not Apple.  I thoroughly enjoy all my Apple products, but can still see the benefit and advantages of those non Apple devices and have no problem with anyone who uses them.  Not trying to turn this into a Mac vs. PC debate, just wanted to throw my stance out there.

For this scene, I first took a shot of myself holding both my iPhone and iPod.  Easy enough, took me one try.  Now for the tricky part.  I had to take a picture of the iPad in front of me, showing my face on the screen, looking towards one of my other Apple devices.  This took me about half an hour to get right.  I was having problems getting the iPad lined up right where my head didn’t look freakishly small.  I still actually had to do some work in post to enlarge the picture of me holding the iPad, which made the iPad look just a liiiiittle bit bigger than it really is.  Regardless of that, I like how it turned out.

Other than that, just had some fun with filters in Color Efex and onOne PhotoTools.  In CE, I added the vignette and a Tonal Contrast filter, as well as a Pro Contrast one.  In onOne, I applied the Blue Dawn Leonidas, Turbo Boost and a Noir one (can’t remember the exact name).

That’s it for me this week.  See you guys and gals on Monday.