HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Archive for February, 2011


I think that I may have jinxed the Pens with my post on Friday.  It was an ugly weekend for them, losing both games by a combined 14-6, and two of the most painful games I’ve watched in a while.  I don’t even really want to talk about it, so I won’t.  Just wanted to mention it.

Something that I need to do soon is get out shooting.  I feel like I’ve been a bit lazy lately because I had so many shot from New York that I knew I wouldn’t need to get out and shoot much.  Other than Penguin games, I really haven’t been out at all this year with my camera.  I may actually go out one day this week after work.  It’s not that I am unmotivated; I’ve been there in the past, and it’s kind of a tough feeling.  It’s not like I don’t have anything to post when I go through one of those funks.  It’s just that I don’t think that anything is good.  Then all of a sudden you look at the same pictures a few weeks later, and you start processing away.  Not really sure why, but sometimes, that’s just how it works.  I guess that I just feel I need to get out of my comfort zone.  I have photographed Pittsburgh from so many different angles, at so many different times of day and times of year that I just think I need to get out of Pittsburgh and shoot something different.  Maybe go hiking, or a little road trip to another city.  Or maybe it’s as simple as just taking out the 70-200 and shooting some candids instead of wide angle HDRs.  Everything in moderation after all.

Anyways, on to today’s shot.  And yesterday’s shot.

First, yesterday.  Another one from Times Square.  I mean, I don’t think I could ever get enough of that place, as there are always going to be different people and things there and therefore different stuff to photograph.  I’m sure I would get sick of it eventually if I lived there, but seeing as I don’t, I could take pictures of it all the time.  Then again I’d have to live there to do that.  Touche, catch 22.  I took this one form the top of the grandstand in the middle of Times Square, looking towards the corner of 47th and 7th.  I really like this view because it shows so much that is New York: the theatre, taxis, limos, people in suits, tourists, people selling you stuff on street corners, chain restaurants.  To me, the whole scene is still moving.

This is a five handheld HDR processed with HDR Efex.  Had to mask in a lot of the street for all the moving people and cars, and also that tiny bit of sky you see, as it was a bit blown out, then moved it over the Color Efex and added a Tonal Contrast filter.  Desaturated the whole scene, then did selective coloring to enhance the reds.  Added a warming filter to cool off the blue tones just a bit, and finally added some High Pass Sharpening.

Seeing as today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I would post something somewhat related to the sentiment that today is all about.  Looking through the archives I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to use.  Then I stumbled across this one from our trip to New York, one I took during one of the five total minutes that I had the zoom lens on instead of the wide angle.  This is from the Brooklyn Bridge during our last day there.  I wasn’t really thinking too much about this shot when I took, but now I’m glad that I took it.

For the processing, I edited the RAW in Camera RAW in CS5.  Decreased the Saturation, increased the vibrance, and warmed up the white balance a bit.  Recovered some of the highlights, lowered the exposure and the contrast, and gave it a bit more clarity.  Moved it over the Color Efex where I added a slight Low Key filter, at 15% Effect Strength and 90% glow.  Gave it a quick crop, and here you go.

Here’s to wishing you and yours a Happy Valentine’s Day!


King for a night

I believe that it has become almost customary that I post a shot from the Penguin game the day after, especially if I was there, which I was last night.  It was a pivotal game, not in terms of the opponent, but in terms of the confidence level of the team, as the ranks have been depleted with injuries, including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz.  However, we got some big time play from some big times players, especially Jordan Staal, pictured here, who got the game winner with 18 seconds left in overtime, and the Pens were victorious 2-1 over the Los Angeles Kings (ahhh, there’s the reference to the title).

I have been blessed in terms of the area of the country that I live in and the sporting events that I get to attend.  As everyone probably knows by now, I am not a Steelers fan, however there is something to be said for the enthusiasm of their fans in the city.  I can’t really relate to going to Heinz Field, the home of the Steelers, to watch a game, however I can hear what it gets like on TV as well as hear how incredible it is from friends and family.  I obviously get to attend Penguin games, as my wife works for the team, and more nights than not the Consol Energy Center is rocking.  It can be difficult for fans to get really pumped up and excited for the forty one home games a year, compared to the eight that the Steelers play, but when you win in dramatic fashion like we did last night, you swear the building is going to collapse. 

With hockey, different than baseball and football when you can see a score coming, you never know if your team scored until that puck crosses the goal line.  And when it does, it is so exciting to see 18,000 people all jump up and starting cheering and screaming and high fiving everyone around them (whoops, don’t spill that beer!).  It is such a fast action sport, there is always excitement, big hits, breakaways, great saves by the goalies.  If you haven’t been to a hockey game before, it certainly is worth the trip!

Aside from hockey, we have PNC Park.  Now, we do have the worst baseball team of the past two decades, the Pirates, but that stadium is something to go watch a game in.  You have a view of the entire skyline of Pittsburgh, and on fireworks night, the city lit up in all the different colors, it is an incredible view!  I’ve also had the privilege of gong to several Penn State Nittany Lion football games.  You want an electric atmosphere, go to one of those.  You have almost 110,000 people in the same building, with upwards of 20,000 students, and half of the crowd has been drinking since five hours before game time.  During Penn State home games, State College (where Penn State University resides) becomes the third largest city in Pennsylvania.

Ok, enough sports talk for today and on to the shot!  I’ve already debuted the S95 on my flickr page and my blog, but this is the first HDR that I will have posted from it.  I took this last night at the game from the Brewhouse, the best place to get food and drink at the new Consol Energy Center.  It has a great view overlooking the city, and last night the lighting was perfect, a nice blue hour with a hint of sun on the horizon.  The warm glow of the traffic lights looked great against the sky!

For the processing, this is a three exposure HDR that I put the camera on the ledge, set the self timer and snapped away.  Put it through HDR Efex and then over the CS5.  Added a warming filter to cool off the blue just a bit, added some contrast, recovered from highlights from the skyline as well as masked out a slight halo.  Masked in one of the moving cars and lastly reduced the noise.  I wasn’t thrilled about having the church in the corner of the frame and you can still see a bit of noise it the roof, but I still like the shot.  For the picture of Jordan Staal, I adjusted the white balance (because shooting the arena is terrible lighting), decreased the overall saturation, reduced the red levels to give his face a more natural look and added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.

That’s all for this week amigos and amigas, take care and enjoy your weekend.

In retrospect

One of the best things about being a photographer is that every single time you go out shooting, you can learn something new, which is a bit unique in my opinion.  Take another hobby, like music.  Now, I have great respect for all musicians, because the limits of my musical inclination ends at the piano.  However if your hobby is, say, playing the piano, you can play for hour and hours, and while you undoubtedly will get better, you may not learn anything new.  Same with writing.  Or painting.  You will continue to progress in your skill, but you may not learn anything new.  When I am out shooting, especially if I am with another photographer, I find that I always come back, not just a better photographer, but more equipped to handle a wider variety of photographic situations.

It doesn’t even have to be limited to what you can learn physically about the camera itself.  It can be a different angle to shoot at, or the time of day to be in a certain part of the city, or a certain location.  I’ve been photographing downtown Pittsburgh for three years now and have spent many an hour on the North Shore of Pittsburgh shooting in and around PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.  However, on a recent photowalk with fellow Pittsburgh photographer Brad Truxell I found a great new location not 200 yards from where I spent countless hours shooting that offers a fantastic and unique view of the city.  Now I can’t wait to get back there to shoot it again, as it was a bit cloudy the last time we were there.

The other great thing about photography is that you can instantly learn from any mistakes you made (see my last post).  Just about every time I got shooting, I will be looking at my pictures when I get home and instantly wish I would have moved my tripod 2 inches to the left and used f11 instead of f4.  Next time I’m out shooting, I will do just that.  It’s not just about getting better with the settings of the camera, it’s being able to see a scene and know the best angle to capture it from, knowing what time of day to be there.  These are things that aren’t always evident at the time of the original shot, but can be instantly corrected.

To go along with the theme of looking back today, my shot has a bit of a vintage feel.  This is one from the 42nd Street Subway station in New York, which we saw a lot of when we were there (the subway in general not just this station).  The last time we were there, I had taken a few shots of the subway that I really liked, but I wanted to try to take a different approach to the panning/motion blur that I did last time.  I also wanted to try to incorporate someone standing in the subway station.  I was pretty happy with the way that this one turned out, and knew I was going to post it as soon as I looked at it.  That is after I processed it of course.

In honor of the Kodachrome being officially phased out I gave this one a Kodachrome filter in Color Efex.  I’ve never shot with the film (thought my first camera was a Pentax film camera of some kind) and only know what I’ve seen of it in pictures, so I’m not sure how accurate it is.  I still liked it though, and it gave me the old vintage feel that I was looking for in this shot, where it could have been taken anytime in the last thirty years.  I added a bit of grain as well as the pillbox border.

Two days with no HDRs, I know, I know.  But if you look carefully, you will the blog is called HDR Exposed – Photography and More by Dave DiCello.  So consider this some of the more, and we’ll be back to the HDRs tomorrow!

Fuzzy concept

If you are a photographer, you’ve been there before.  You’re walking down the street (or through a field or up a cliff or through your living room following your cat to get picture #1,493 of it this week) and you see the perfect shot developing.  You have the right lens on the camera, the settings are perfect, all you have to do is get in the best position and click the shutter.  The mirror (if you have an SLR) will go up, the sensor will capture all those billions of photons of light on the million pixels it encases and you will have the shot.  And not just a shot.  THE shot.  It may not be your single greatest shot ever, but the stars have aligned for you to capture it.  You can’t possibly believe your good fortune.  All of a sudden…

If you’re in a field, a flock of birds suddenly take flight, scaring both you and the two deer grazing peacefully.  If you’re walking up that cliff, your foot slips just as you press the shutter and you have a picture of a blurry sky.  If you’re chasing your cat…I don’t know, what happens when you are chasing your cat?…oh you probably trip over one of the other twenty-five cats you have.  Next thing you know, you don’t have the shot, the world that just seemed so perfect now seems so cruel, and you are cursing everything from the birds to the rocks to the other cats to that guy this morning who cut you off and made you three seconds getting here or else you would have had the shot.  And you spend the next couple hours trying to get that shot again.  But, you are worried it may have been a once in a lifetime thing.

Well, for me, this was the case on our New York trip.  Early on Friday morning with the wife still sleeping from our flight in the night before, I braved the cold to head out and get some New York morning rush hour traffic, both vehicle and pedestrian.  I thought, I’m going to start out and shoot some candids, something that I don’t do a whole lot of.  The 70-200mm f2.8 goes on, 16-35mm f4 goes in the bag, and off I go.  I get a few shots of people waiting for the bus and taxi, a business man running across the street, and a lady in a red hat making a phone call.  Interesting, but kind of “Eh”.  I turn back towards Times Square and I see them.  Four guys.  Walking down the sidewalk.  Almost equidistance from one another.  The first, second and fourth guy are all in stride, with the third being on an opposite step.  I see a crosswalk coming up.  A legendary rock band’s album pops into my head with the exact same set up, even with the third person being on an opposite stride.  ( I feel compelled to mention this is the Beatles and the Abbey Road album for those not picking up the reference).  Oh, I got this.  I am ready.  I have about half a block until they reach the cross walk to get in the best shooting position, which is, yep, right where I was already standing.  Perfect. 

Check the settings.  Ok, ISO?  200.  Aperture?  2.8.  Shutter speed?  1/150?  Too dark.  1/100?  Not quite.  1/80?  There it is.  Focal length at about 100mm.  Spot focusing on the third guy.  They’ve spaced out from each other a bit from their original positions, but that’s ok, I can live with that.  First guy in the crosswalk…second…third…fourth…just a few more steps…and…

“Oops, sorry man, didn’t see you were taking a picture.”


Just as I’m about to press the shutter, I get bumped, ever so slightly, by someone who didn’t see me standing with a D700 and monster of a 70-200mm 2.8 elsn up to my face.  The Active VRII lens worked great and doesn’t allow the whole image to blur, and the bump was ever so slight, that the focal point ended up just to the right of the third guy, on someone way in the back of the scene.  The four crosswalk guys?  Totally out of focus.  I think, “I’ll catch them at the next crosswalk”.  Great idea.  Oh, except for one of them turns left at the street corner, walking down the street.  I couldn’t believe it.  I even had the third guy on his right step, just like Paul McCartney in the album cover, with the other three being on their left step.  I mill around for a few minutes or so to see if I can recreate the moment, but no such luck.

I know, I know, there are things I could have done better.  A higher aperture to keep more of the scene in focus and not give such a shallow depth of field.  Switched to manual focus so I wouldn’t have autofocused to the point behind them.  Looked around to make sure there was no one coming.  I thought I had all my bases covered.  Not this time.  But, I thought , I still really like the shot so I decided, against my better judgment, post a picture that is technically not that great.  For the processing, I tried to give it a cinematic feel.  Lowered overall saturation, added a vibrance layer, added an S curve to give it a bit more pop, gave it just a bit of grain and put it in a pillbox.

I know it’s weird for a photographer to post a picture that he obviously, for lack of a better term, messed up on, but at least for today, that’s ok by me.

A different perspective

Back after a bit of break from the blogging world.  I hope that everyone had a great weekend, as I know I did!  Watched the Pens come back and win on Friday, celebrated the wife’s birthday and Saturday then watched the Steelers play a pathetic game and lose the Super Bowl Sunday.  I was probably one of only people in the city who was absolutely ecstatic over the Steeler loss.  We were at a good friend’s house for the game who is a die hard Steelers fan, and it was everything I could do to not be jumping up and down and screaming.  But, I have been harassed my entire life for being a Cowboys fan, so I thought I would just enjoy that moment in silence.  I couldn’t wait to get in the car to leave and start cheering!  All in all a good time.  I was a bit under the weather yesterday morning and was also pretty busy at work so I wasn’t able to post anything.  Don’t worry though.  No more months at a time between posts.  Like I’ve said before, I’m kind of digging this posting everyday!

Today will be more strictly about photography that my normal rantings and ravings about who knows what.  Part of it is the fact that I am still pretty busy at work and trying to play a bit of catch up today, and the other piece is because I am a day behind in my posts!  We’ll start with a shot that I posted yesterday but took a few weeks back on my way home from work.  It was during one of those really heavy, afternoon snowfalls that coincided perfectly with my drive home.  I take the same route home everyday, and I almost look forward to when it snows and I’m driving, because it gives me the chance to get shots like this.  I really liked how the end of the road just vanished into the snow and how you can see the snow actually coming down.  It almost has a cinematic feel to it.

The processing for this one was actually pretty easy.  It was a five handheld exposure HDR that I processed with HDR Efex.  I moved it over the CS5, desaturated it a bit (not that I needed to), added a bit more green to the street signs, threw on a quick S Curve, and there you have it.  I didn’t do a Tonal Contrast filter or noise reduction because frankly I don’t think it needed either one!

For my next shot (doesn’t that remind you of those cheesy magicians from TV?), we are heading back to New York.  I just can’t get enough of that city, I just find myself going back to my pictures again and again and I keep find more pictures I want to process.  This is one of those.  I took this on our last day there right after we got off the Chambers St. subway stop.  I’m not going to lie, it took me about five minutes to figure out what this building was, because at first I wasn’t sure what stop we got off.  I had to pull up Google maps and literally drive down the street in Street View to see which building it was, and finally I found that it is the Public Advocates Office of New York (just in case you were wondering).  All the angles and architecture made for a great photograph.

I spent a bit more time processing this one.  Similar to the last one, this is a five exposure handheld HDR put through the HDR Efex process.  However, since I used the HDR Method “Dark Soft” the sky was a bit darker than I liked and there was some noticeable haloing around the arches and pillars.  I brought in the -2 exposure (since I was metered on the building, the sky was very blown out in all the other exposures), tonemapped it, and then masked in almost the entire sky.  I then dodged the top of some of the pillars and adjusted the shadows.  Added both a Tonal Contrast filter and High Pass Sharpening filter to the overall shot, as well as decreased overall saturation.  Straightened the shot and presented it to you, in full HDR glory.

That’s all for today folks, make sure you check back tomorrow!

Policing the ice

So my goal of this blog was not to become a Penguins centric blog, as there are already multiple Pens’ blogs out there.  The original goal was to post some pictures and talk a little more in depth about the shot than I do on flickr.  However, as I am trying to blog everyday (well, every weekday), it can get a bit boring and repetitive if I am just saying “Here’s this shot, this is how I took it” and so on, and that it is.  That being said, I’ve tried to add a bit more commentary to my posts to hopefully keep those of your who make the daily (or weekly or monthly) trek to my blog a bit more enjoyable, because if it was just the same pictures I posted on flickr, then you wouldn’t have any reason to come here.  I will say this.  I have a ton of respect now for newspaper columnists, who have to write every day, though it is a bit easier for them, as the majority of the time they are reporting on news.  They are still writing everyday for their job.  I do it just for fun.  Which I think makes it a bit easier.

Anyways, moving on to more exciting topics: Geno (Evgeni Malkin) is back tonight for the Pens.  Oh wait.  I realized I never finished my though on the Pens’ blog thing.  See that’s what happens to me when I write these.  I get off on one tangent and forgot where I parked the firs tangent to get back in and keep going.  I think that if you are going to write every day about something, it should be something you are passionate about, because otherwise it won’t be interesting.  I am passionate about the Penguins and my photography, so it is very easy for me to write semi creatively about these two things.  So while you won’t see Pens’ stuff up every day on here, you will see it.  Like yesterday and today.

So Geno’s back, but our stellar rookie center, Mark Letestu, is out four to six weeks for a damaged meniscus from catching an edge on the ice at Madison Square Garden in New York before the Ranger’s game on Tuesday.  With Sid the Kid still out recovering from a concussion, it’s great to see Malkin back out there policing the ice (reference to title #1).  It means that the opponent has to plan for a superstar and match their lines up accordingly, and just makes it more difficult to get the matchups they want.  I’m not saying this demean anything else any of the Pens have done, quite the contrary actually.  The depth that we have is some of, if not THE best in the NHL, which has allowed us to gain points in the standing even without the “two headed monster” (Sid and Geno) in the line up.  One quick note on the aforementioned phrase.  HDR Exposed (aka me) does not condone the use of this saying…actually it is quite discouraged.  Just wanted to use it once, get it out of the way, and never use it again.  ‘Nough said.

Even though I foster incredible disdain for the Steelers, I would remiss in my blogging duties if I did not at least MENTION the Super Bowl in a few days.  Packers vs. Steelers, NFC vs. AFC, the game of all games, the big game, Super Sunday, and all that jazz.  I will be attending a party with a whole lot of Steeler faithful.  I will also be wearing a Dallas Cowboy jersey.  Probably Tony Romo…maybe Miles Austin.  Not sure yet.  But I will say this.  Steeler fans are in for a rude awakening.  Their beloved defense (which is incredible) is going to fall hard.  Prediction: Packers 31, Steelers 10, Aaron Rodgers throws for 320 yards and is MVP.  Ben Roethlisberger throws two picks and fumbles, and the Packers defense lives up to its billing.  Let’s go Pack.  Now, where is my cheesehead?

Almost forgot about today’s shot with all my other rambling.  More from NYC.  Another one taken on our last day there, which I think I got my most shots from.  I had been trying to get a shot of Bryant Park that I liked; I was trying to use the reflections in the buildings and had tried three other times and got nothing.  This was my final attempt, and as we were walking across the street, I stopped to grab this five exposure HDR.  Of course, the light turned green right when I stopped and this cop car was right in the middle of the road (reference to title #2).  I just said ok, forget, I got a ton of other shots.  But…

…then I got home and processed it.  Did my usual settings in HDR Efex, and thought to myself, “This isn’t too bad”.  Took it back into CS5, masked in the moving people and the police car, applied a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex, burned the sky right about the horizon to give it that orange glow, boosted the blues to make the police car stand out, and while it isn’t one of my best, in the end, I like it!

That’s all for this week guys!  I hope you all have a great weekend!

Did I mention Go Packers yet?  I did?  Ok, well, GO PACKERS!!!!!!!  Yes, I’m done now.

Theatre like no other

I know not everyone who reads this blog this is a hockey fan, but I just have to take a second to talk about the Pittsburgh Penguins game last night.  First off, we won, which is always positive, a 3-0 shutout of the lowly New York Islanders (sorry NY fans).  It was a bit of a scrappy game from the start, and it just so happened that our scrappy guys got our goals.  Tyler Kennedy opened the scoring in the first on a great power play goal from a sharp angle, Chris Kunitz banked one in off Rick DiPietro on a 2-1 with Pascal Dupuis.  DiPietro got caught cheating back to Dupuis’ side and Kunitz made him pay.

No scoring in the second, but things got a bit scrappy.  Mike Rupp won a fight, there were hard hits all around, with Matt Cooke and Max Talbot really flying around the ice.  Max, who was on a 25 game scoring drought, hit two goalposts, got robbed on a seemingly open net, and just couldn’t seem to buy a goal.  That was until 40 seconds left when Max, with the Islanders having vacated their net for a sixth attacker, took a backhand pass from Craig Adams and buried a 70 footer.  3-0, Pens up, game in the bag. 

But, this piece is called “Theatre like no other” for a reason.  Well, two actually.  The first reason is what happened next.  With 20 seconds left, Cooke raced down to try to beat an icing call.  Skating past the net, DiPietro, who had taken some hard shots from Cooke in the last meeting between these two teams, stepped out of his crease and through a blocker to Cooke’s face.  A scrum ensued in the corner, when all of a sudden, the coolest, most awesome, rarest, exciting things that can happen in a hockey game, happened.  Out of the corner of the screen you see DiPietro start skating away from the pile towards center ice.  Then you see a referee skate at full tilt after him.  Brent Johnson (pictured above), the backup for goalie Mar Andre Fleury, was at the Islanders blue line, gloves off, helmet off, ready to take on DiPietro.  The referee did everything he could to stop Johnson, but he was on a mission to repay the Islanders netminder for the cheap shot he had just delivered.  Both goalies grabbed the other one’s jersey, and Johnson, who is right handed, landed a left hook to DiPietro’s jaw, sending him to the ice in a heap.  Brent then knelt over to pof him, one had holding him down, the other raised in a fist, not ready to punch, just showing his vanquished foe that these Penguins are not who you want to mess with.

You don’t seen goalie fights hardly ever anymore, especially now since Patrick Roy is out of the league, who was famous for fights with both Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek.  But to see the soft spoken Brent Johnson, drop the gloves against some like DiPietro, who deserved everything he got from Johnnie, it was just a sight to see.  I may have to get a Brent Johnson jersey.

Sorry for the recap, but it was just too awesome not to talk about!  Today we go back to New York and take a look at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre on West 46th Street, right outside of Times Square.  This theatre was right next to our hotel, the Marriott Marquis, and I knew I had to get a picture of it at night.  The first night I took my five handheld brackets, but the last two were a bit blurry, something I discovered back in the room.  I didn’t want to lug my drop out for a night on the town, so I bumped up the ISO the next night and gave it another shot.  This time I got five crisp exposures.  Perfect!  We actually debated about maybe going to see the Addams Family, which you can see was playing there.  Maybe next time.

On to the processing.  Like I said, this is a five handheld bracketed shot that I processed with HDR Efex.  The lights on the front of the building were kind of throwing me off, as they make the front of the building different colors with different light sources.  I ended up just decreasing the saturation the oranges, and that did the trick!  I had to mask back in the people on the street and a bit of the blown out highlights from the Times Square signs as well.  Added a Tonal Contrast filter to everything but the sky and recovered some of the dark shadows, added a bit more color to the blue sky, saved, uploaded!

See you tomorrow!

Sit and stay a while

This morning I came to a very stark realization.  This blogging, um, stuff, is not easy.  I’ve been sitting here, trying to figure out what it is I’d like to write about today, and maybe I’m tired, the creative part of my brain isn’t awake yet, or something, but I, for the life of me had nothing.  Zippo.  Nada.  I thought to myself, do I really stoop to the level of writing about nothing?  I figured if it worked for Seinfeld then it would work for me.  Not saying I’m on the same level as Seinfeld but for all intents and purposes, this morning, I’m going to give it a shot!  I guess that writing about nothing really is writing about something right?  But then again truly writing about nothing would not be writing at all.  And I am writing.  I’m sorry, I think I just confused myself.  What’s ironic is that I title this “Sit and stay a while” as if I was amusing you in some way.  I have to coax you to say.  What have I become?

How about we just get to today’s shot to lessen the pain a bit (yes, pun intended, and yes, it was a bad one).  I figured that I would follow with the theme of yesterday with a bit of bokeh.  For those of you who aren’t into photography (and I realize now that I should have explained this yesterday, my deepest apologies), bokeh refers to the out of focus area in a picture.  This is a result of the aperture of the lens being wide open (which means a smaller f stop, typically f4 or lower), giving a very shallow depth of field.  You can try this yourself.  Pick up any object and hold it about eight inches from your eyes; everything else will be out of focus.  That’s more or less the concept of this shot.  This particular shot was taken in Station Square with the city “bokehed”, if you will.  I used at aperture of f4 for this, as that is as low as my wide angle 16-35mm will go.

Not a whole lot to say on the processing side.  This is a five exposure, handheld HDR processed with HDR Efex.  I did not apply a Tonal Contrast Filter, just added an S Curve to give the shot a bit more contrast and did some selective coloring to enhance the pink in the sky.  Added some clarity in light room to give the clouds a bit more “oompf” (that is the first time I have ever used that word in type), and there you have it!

Tomorrow’s post will be better.  I promise.

Beach and bokeh

Well, today it is raining.  At least it was raining when I was on my way to work.  It was actually kind of weird, because we still have probably around five inches of snow on the ground, but it was absolutely pouring down rain.  There was a bit of ice, nothing to make the commute too bad.  I usually love winter, but this year has kind of been a pain.  It snows six inches one day, then gets up to 33 and it all melts.  Then it snows again two days later.  Then it gets warm again.  I can say that I am officially over winter and ready for spring.  To me winter has two parts.  The part leading up to Christmas and then the part where it snows (hopefully the two coincide).  I know that winter doesn’t technically start until December 22nd, but to me, everything after Thanksgiving is winter.  So now that Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, it’s time for some snow!  And some sustained snow!

I’ve titled this entry beach and bokeh, yet all I’ve done is talk about winter.  Sorry.  You know how you get off topic and start rambling?  And I’m not talking about just talking with someone.  Like when I had a conversation with a group of coworkers the other day, we started talking about an upcoming happy hour and then bachelor parties and then sushi and then German beer and it was like “How the hell did this happen?”  I’m not just talking about that.  I’m talking about when you’re sitting there at a red light waiting for it to change thinking about what to make for dinner when you get home.  Then you see someone walking their talk and think about that dog you had when you were little.  And how cute it was when she knocked over your Coke can at your birthday party when you were 8 all over your friend Tom.  And then, “Man, I wonder what Tom’s doing now?  I haven’t seen him in 15 years!” Then you start thinking about that girl that he used to date who was so annoying, she reminds you of a girl you work with who is equally as annoyi…oh wait, work, that’s right, I forgot to bring my laptop home to finish that presentation!  My boss is gonna kill me!  Hold on, the boss is still out of the office in Europe…then you think how you would love to vacation there, visit Italy, they probably have the best pasta in the world there!  PASTA!  That’s it.  Pasta for dinner.  While all of this was happening, you missed two green lights, almost drifted into the guy behind you and are getting strange looks by people walking by.

Look at me, rambling again.  How about some pictures?

It’s a two for one special today!  One is from our Jamaican honeymoon (beach) and one is from last Friday on a short photowalk (bokeh).  For the Jamaican one, I was trying to get a minimalistic feel to, with just the lone raft on the beach and the whole people in the distance in the water, one of them being my wife.  I took it mid trip there on the typically afternoon we had, stunning blue sky, a few wisps of clouds, and that sparkling water.  It actually did rain one afternoon, but this pretty much epitomized the weather!

I put more work into this shot than I was originally planning to.  It is just a single exposure that I tonemapped in HDR Efex.  I kicked it over to Color Efex where I added a Tonal Contrast layer to the sad and water and left the sky alone.  After that I added the Brilliance Filter from Color Efex to give it that warm glow.  I also added a Selective Color layer to boost some of the greens in the water as well as striaghtened the horizon.

This shot is a bit more straightforward.  It is a five exposure handheld HDR from Station Square in Pittsburgh.  I’ve been trying to do more DoF shots, and I think that this one turned out rather nice!  Processed the HDR in HDR Efex, added a Tonal Contrast filter and boosted the reds from the sunset!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, make sure you check out my HDR Efex Tutorial!

Enjoy your Tuesday everyone!