First off I just wanted to thank everyone who gave their input on flickr and Explore in my post yesterday. I really enjoyed the feedback and hearing some different views on it.
Yesterday’s post was a bit long in verbiage so today I’ll give you a break and make it a bit longer but in pictures. Every so often I like to put up a whole series of action shots that I took before the Pens games and today is just one of those days. Originally I was thinking about doing this for today’s post because I thought that we would have pulled out a great win last night against our hated in state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers and pull even with them for the division lead. The Pens were looking great to, all over the ice, help two one goal leads, but the Flyers proved the luckier of the two teams last night, with pucks bouncing over, around and under Marc Andre Fleury for a 5-2 win by the men in orange.
So where does that leave the Pens? Probably in fourth place at the end of the season, which means that we will have guaranteed home ice advantage, at least for the first round and that our like opponent will be Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. I like this matchup for Pittsburgh, as the Pens are a much deeper team than the lighting with a lot more playoff experience. However, anything can happen at any time in the playoffs.
On to the shots. The first one above is Mike Rupp, and I thought that this one was appropriate to start off with as it was one of the first pictures I took from last Friday’s game. All the images you see here today are from that contest between the New Jersey Devils and the Pens, which the Pens won in a 1-0 thrilling shootout victory. I was able to capture this one right as Rupp skated on the ice, and I was lucky enough to get the spot light right on top of him, which has never happened before.
Next up is winger James Neal, one of the players taking the Pens to the new horizon. He came over from the Dallas Stars along with Matt Niskanen back at the trade deadline for Alex Goligoski. Neal is a hardnosed, physical player who has a lethal wrist shot. He’s got speed and puck handling ability and was a very valuable add to the roster this year.
Above is Ben Lovejoy, a right handed shooting defenseman who has certainly made his mark in the NHL this year. Lovejoy is a shutdown d-man who has a decent shot too, and always willing to jump into the offensive play. I’m posting this more for the funny expression on his face than anything else.
Here we have Mike Comrie, another new Penguin this year. He was signed as a free agent, and although he has missed most of this season due to hip surgery, has put up 30 goal seasons in his past. I happened to catch him right as he was spitting in warm ups, which made for an interesting shot.
Taking a shot during warm ups is winger Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis is a high energy player, very quick, always flying around the ice. He gets a minute here or there on the penalty kill, but strength other than his speed is his killer slap shot. He may not be able to maneuver around you, but he can definitely rip it past you.
Last but certainly not least is a name that is near and dear to many people in Pittsburgh and that is Alexei Kovalev (right in the above shot), or Kovy. Kovy is on his second tour with the Pens, reacquired at the trade deadline this year for a conditional 6th round pick from the Ottawa Senators. Though he has only put up two goals (and two more in the shootout), Kovalev can still wheel and deal the puck with the best of them. The game is certainly faster than the last time he played for Pittsburgh and was in his prime, but it’s still so much fun to watch him play. He showed off some of that stick handling ability in the bottom shot here, where he bounced the puck on his stick from the red goal line all the way to center ice. Just awesome.
Today’s shot is a view from our new office building that my company moved into on Monday. We have a great view of the sunrise, which is much better than the view we had before, which was none, as we were smack in the middle of our last building with no windows at all. I know you can see the reflections of the lights in the window, but I just wasn’t able to clone them out. If you look directly to the right on the bottom part of the reflection, you can see the moon as well.
This was a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting. No masking in this one, just adjusted overall curves and then added a green curves adjusted layer to enhance the grass. Cloned out a few dust spots, increased overall saturation and finally added a Tonal Contrast filter to everything but the sky.
Well, that ended up being longer than yesterday. I’ll try to keep it shorter tomorrow.
I know that a few posts ago I had a little rant about flickr in general and just touched on Explore quickly. I haven’t been checking Explore that much in the past year or so because of how frustrating some of the pictures I have seen on there have been. Yesterday I hit a bit of a breaking point though and just wanted to share some thoughts, get some opinions from some of you and maybe vent a little.
For those of you who are not familiar with Explore I’ll give you a quick overview. Explore is a collection of the top 500 pictures on any given day on flickr, judged by the flickr “interestingness”. Things that influence (or at least used to influence) getting into Explore were views, comments and faves in a short amount of time, not being in too many groups and not having all kinds of flashy rewards. Certain groups were also said to hurt or aid hitting Explore. Then in August of 2009 there was a monumental change to the algorithm that would ban certain users from getting on Explore. Apparently some folks even got messages from flickr saying that they had been “blacklisted” and other people “needed a chance” to get on Explore. While I never got that message, I haven’t had a photograph on Explore since then, and I used to hit it every day or so.
Now, I have a few problems with this. First, if Explore is supposed to be the most interesting, the cream of the crop on flickr, how can you purposefully ban photographers who you previously deemed to have the most interesting photos on flickr? It doesn’t make sense that everyone doesn’t get a fair shake at it. Second, and this is a more philosophical question, why are the editors of flickr deciding what is “interesting”? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get feedback from the flickr community (since flickr is a social network) to give a better overall representation of what people in flickrland find attractive in photography? I know that everyone has different tastes (and that’s what makes photography great) and it would make sense to incorporate that into the Explore area.
This leads into my third and, in my opinion, most important point. Let me first say that while I used to get annoyed that I was not hitting Explore anymore, I am completely over it. I have made some great contacts and friends on flickr that mean much more to me that having my picture be #247 in Explore. What I find completely ridiculous are some of the pictures that are currently on Explore. To call them interesting or some of the best is almost an embarrassment. I have five pictures as quick examples, and although I will not be posting them on here because they all are “All Rights Reserved” images, I will post the link to them.
- First off is Explore #4 for yesterday, March 28th. It’s a picture of someone’s retirement cake at work. Panda bear with green cupcakes taken with an iPhone.
- Next is a Front Page Explore of a rock holding a sign in different positions. Ok, fine, maybe it is remotely creative, but to be on the Front Page to say it is one of the most interesting pictures on flickr? Really??
- The next one is a picture of someone’s vintage cameras and their camera bag. The cameras may be interesting if you are actually using them, but a picture of them? And to be #4 on Explore?
- Next up is a group shot of people in a Lightroom workshop. Again, Front Page. Really embarrassing.
- Finally we have a Front Page from today that combines three pictures of someone’s eyes in a green glow. How is this interesting?
Again, I am not saying that these are not ok shots. Everyone has their own style and I can certainly respect that. What I have a slight problem with is these shots being paraded as some of the best on flickr. What I am not saying that these people are poor photographers. I did take the time to look through all of their streams and they all have some work that I like and am interested in. I’m also not saying that the shots above are bad shots…just curious as to why they made Explore and myself and others have not seen it for over a year and a half. Don’t get me wrong, there are TONS of great pictures on Explore; incredible landscapes, dramatic portraits, breathtaking views and so on. Those certainly deserve to be up there. It’s shots like the above ones that just have me scratching my head.
I know this has been a long post, so I’ll make this quick. Both shots from today’s post are from the Times Square Police Station in New York City. I didn’t get a chance to photograph it the last time we were there and didn’t want to miss the opportunity again. Both were processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting. I had to do a fair bit of masking in both of them to get rid of the people and then added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.
Big game tonight for the Pens against the Flyers. We got this.
Yeah, I know, I know, I missed a post yesterday. We have been a bit busy at work lately, as we are moving to a new building, and we are currently the last ones in the old building, so there is a lot to get done. Back on the wagon today.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Elton John concert at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Now, I am a huge classic rock fan, and while I do enjoy Elton’s music, he wouldn’t be in my top 10 of favorite musicians, but let me say this: It was awesome. I mean, he really rocked the stage, it was incredible to watch him play, overall an immensely entertaining show. He kept the crowd engaged, standing up and acknowledging all four sides of the stage after every song and even took the time to sign autographs before his encore, probably about fifty or so people that he let come up and stand by the stage for his last few songs, which included Bennie and the Jets and Crocodile Rock, along with his encore of Your Song. Shots from this concert were taken with a Canon S95.
I did find the concert very enjoyable…except for the eight songs that he did with Leon Russell right in the middle of the show. I know that Russell is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, but it just really seemed to detract from the energetic vibe of the rest of the show. The songs were slow, very few people knew them, as they were from the collaborative new album between Elton and Russell. Other than that, awesome show.
Back in August, on opening night of the CONSOL Energy Center, before any hockey game had been played, I was in attendance to see former Beatle Paul McCartney. In regards to entertainment, Sir Paul most definitely put on the best show I have ever been to. It also helped that I knew the majority of the songs played and could sing along (not that anyone would want to hear that), but being able to see a legend like McCartney, that is a once in a lifetime thing, at least at this point in his career. For this concert I had my Canon S90.
Finally, last March we attended an Eric Clapton concert at the old Civic Arena. I know that I just said McCartney put on the best show ever, but Clapton’s music was just mesmerizing. When they showed his hands making that guitar sing like it wasn’t anything at all was truly something special. Clapton is not the same kind of entertainer as Elton and Paul, but he put on one hell of a show and I would gladly go back to see him again. Didn’t have a great camera with my this time though, so just iPhone shots for this one.
I am very fortunate that I was able to see three of the great rock/pop musicians of our time in my hometown. I don’t go to many concerts, but when I do, I make it worthwhile.
Speaking of these Pittsburgh hockey arenas and to go along with the nighttime Pittsburgh skyline, here is a shot of both. I took this a few weeks into the season form the upper parking lot above the Civic Arena and had to hold up a lot of traffic to do so. People honking, yelling, screaming while I just threw up my hands and said, “It’s bracketing nine exposures at night, it takes a lot time, what do you want me to do?” One way to shut people up is just to confuse them!
Tomorrow’s Friday. Woo hoo.
I try not to recap full Pens games, but I really have no choice today.
Whew. What a game. The Pens played the Detroit Red Wings last night at Joe Louis Arena in the Motor City and escaped with a 5-4, shootout win. They chose to make it as interesting as they possibly could though, having been staked to a 4-0 lead through almost two full periods with two goals from Pascal Dupuis (one a sneaky bag hander and one off of a gratuitous bounce off the boards), a nifty backhand by Tyler Kennedy over sprawling netminder Jimmy Howard and one off a sweet deke by Chris Kunitz.
The run ended with about two minutes to go in the second, when Henrik Zetterberg banked one off Kris Letang’s skate past Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson. Next thing you know the Red Wings are getting powerplay goals from Niklas Kronwall and ageless wonder Mike Modano, and one more from Valtteri Filppula, who shuffled one between the pads of Johnson that Johnson ended up kicking in his own net.
The Pens got some momentum back though, carrying it into overtime where they had chance after chance against Howard’s replacement Joey MacDonald. Into the shootout it went. Both goalies were brick walls until Penguin newcomer James Neal blistered a wristshot over the glove of MacDonald. Lights out, game over, the Pens earn a precious two points in the standings.
No, the shot above is not from that game, it is from a playoff game in 2008 between these two rivals, the same 2008 playoffs that saw the Red Wings hoist the Stanley Cup in the Igloo. Neither of the players depicted even played last night, as they are both out due to injuries. Sidney Crosby obviously has been dealing with a concussion since early January and Chris Osgood, the Red Wings goalie has been out for about a week with a sore groin. Although it’s not from the game, it is one of my favorite hockey shots that I have been lucky enough to get.
Today I’ll be wrapping up the Jamaican honeymoon shots. I’ve enjoyed doing this series on my blog over the last week and a half, as it has sort of allowed me to relive being there. I had not gone through all my shots from there in a few months, and it was nice to put myself there again.
Sunset was just an incredible time of day there, more so that in a lot of places. It was almost as if you waited with anticipation to see what kind of colors were going to appear, what the clouds were going to look like. These are two of my favorite shots I got right around dusk. One was taken with my S90, a bracket of three exposures, and the other with my D40X, an eleven exposure HDR. Both were processed in Photomatix, with some slight masking of the sky to get rid of some noise and colors.
I hope that you have enjoyed the Jamaican series. I’ll figure out another series to do next.
Thanks for stopping by.
Monday morning: back to work, back to blogging, and only three more days until the iPad 2 is at my door. Cannot wait.
Today, as the title suggests, is going to be a bit of an Igloo overload. For those of you who are from Pittsburgh or may have read one of my previous posts, the Igloo is the nickname that was given to the old home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Civic Arena. This is an appropriate name because, well, it looks like an Igloo. Even more appropriate that the team who (whom? nah, who) it was built for are the Penguins.
What inspired this Civic Arena kick? Not too sure. Just been going through a lot of my old shots lately, and I came across a whole series that I did last year. The Penguins had an employee skating party to celebrate the end of the season and the closing of the iconic building, and since my wife falls into that category I got to attend. I knew it was going to be my last chance to take pictures of the inside of the Arena, so I snapped as many as I could before we left. With the hockey playoffs fast approaching, I have been reminiscing about the Civic Arena, and will be posting the pictures both on my blog (that’s here) and flickr.
The last post that I did specifically about the Civic Arena focused on pictures of the outside, while today, you’ll get a tour of the inside. We’ll start out with the entrance to and view from our seats for almost every game. Located in C3, the single attack side (meaning the Pens only shot towards us once), they had a great view of the entire ice. You could see plays develop, pick up on opportunities, and the play was never really blocked or shielded in any way.
Another place that had a great view was from the club seats or the press area, way at the top of the building. This is something that made the Igloo so unique, the domed roof made the whole place seem twice as big as it really was. Watching a game from that high up was something special, because although you could barely read the players’ names on the back of the jerseys, you could hear everything they were saying, and it really gave you a different perspective on the game.
Then of course there was the ice level, where I was lucky enough to have my camera and tripod to get these shots. The first one above is from one of the goal creases, and this too gives a sense for the vastness that was the inside. The second one above was taken from one of the penalty boxes looking towards both benches. You can see Penguin employees milling around, enjoy the last few hours of public access.
Of course I had to get a picture (after waiting in line) of the locker room. Well, not actually the locker room, but the door to get in to the locker room. In the new CONSOL Energy Center, like most of the arenas around the league, the entrance to and from the locker room is behind the bench area, which is more convenient for intermissions and to handle injuries. The Civic Arena had a separate entrance however, off to the corner of the ice.
To wrap it up, how about a few new pictures of the outside? This is the sign located at Gate 3 at the bottom of the Arena, welcoming fans entering from the city. If you walked up the side of the arena, you would see Gate 2, where staff and players entered, and finally Gate 3, one of the more popular gates, as it gave easy access to fans coming from above the arena as well as 5th Avenue.
That’s it for the tour of the Igloo today. Let’s hope this walk down memory lane will bring them some luck against the Red Wings tonight.
I don’t want to scare anyone with the title, I’m not really sad. Well, just sad that I’m in rainy Pittsburgh right now instead of sunny Jamaica. There’s a saying “No one needs a vacation like the man who just got back from one” and I could not agree with that more. Even though I didn’t just get back from vacation I had a day off on Friday, and coming back to work can be so difficult after a long weekend.
I will probably be wrapping up the Jamaican pictures sometime this week, but today I wanted to post a few shots that focused on the actual beach. It was so incredible to just sit and lounge around in the sand all day, as it was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. The sand was golden and soft and not so hot that you couldn’t walk on it, the water was crisp and clear for a vibrant shade of aqua and the sky was just a shining blue all the time (well, except for the one hour it rained). Usually you are lucky enough to get one of these beach attributes, but the fact that Jamaica had all three was perfect.
What made it even more picturesque were the banks of clouds that would continually roll through during the day. Don’t get me wrong, there is little that I like more on vacation than a clear blue sky, because at least then you know it’s not going to rain. But it was kind of just the icing on the cake that made Couples Sans Souci the most relaxing place we have ever been. I think it is the only place where we have said that we may go back one day; we usually like to vacation in different cities and countries, to make sure we experience as much as we can. But Jamaica sure had a compelling argument to lure us back.
From the warm beaches of Jamaica to the cold highways of Pittsburgh. This is one of the last few shots from my early morning photowalk back in February. What I’ve come to realize is, that I REALLY need to get out shooting soon. I mean, I have a ton of shots in my archive, but I’m not thrilled with all of them. Maybe I need to create a second flickr stream so that I can most my not-top-quality work. Because let’s face it. Not every picture you take is going to be your best, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to display it. We’ll see. Anyways, this is a view down the parkway along the Allegheny River. You can see PNC Park on the right, as well as Heinz Field in the distance, as well as the moon, which I just have a terrible time with.
For the processing, this is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Subtle” method. I ended up masking in the whole sky, but instead of using the exposure that had the trees frozen, I used the +1 exposure to give them that waving feeling. I also had to do some work on the reds, as the street lamps were really glaring through the shot on the left had side of the scene. Boosted the yellow on the railing that serves as the leading line, added a blue curves layer for the sky and water and applied a very slight Tonal Contrast filter to the entire image.
Check back tomorrow for a discussion on flickr. Pete Talke of Places2Explore recently did a post on this and I felt inspired to do the same.
Picking up where we left off last week with some more shots from Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where we spent our honeymoon.
One of the really interesting things about the resort was how it was laid out. Part of Couples Sans Souci used to be apartments that were converted into hotel rooms at some point and this made the entire grounds seem like more of a little village than a resort. There were winding staircases, hidden staircases, so many levels and different areas to explore, which means that you could walk to the same place five different ways, instead of just walking by the pool to get to the restaurant. You could walk up a staircase, around a bank of rooms, by the mineral pool, through the hammock area, or up an entirely different staircase, around two other restaurants, through the lobby and end up at the same place. One of the little hidden treasures of the CSS was the Mineral Pool (pictured above), which was kept at a certain balance of natural minerals to give you a relaxing swim. You had to shower before you even got in it, and there were strict rules about what you could and could not do it. I’ll just leave it at that.
There was also another pool (non mineral, just regular) attached to one of the bars at the resort called the Balloon Bar. The only person I saw swimming in it the entire time we were there was a big tattooed guy who had one too many Red Stripes. During a show that was going on directly next to it. I’m pretty sure that that was also the only time where “No problem mon” turned into “We have a problem mon”. At the Balloon Bar they had nightly shows where the performers were right on the little patio area that you see the above picture. Guest interaction was highly encouraged and by the end of the performance you were almost always up dancing with them. On a side note, this was also the only place on the entire resort that served Guiness, and it was only on the weekends, and they usually were out of it in a few hours after they got the shipment in.
So today’s shot. I said yesterday on flickr that I am going to try to do some more street photography and candids. The only problem is actually getting out and taking them. I also want to have my wide angle out to give a better sense of the beauty of our city of Pittsburgh, but this week I am going to make an effort to go out shooting with just the 70-200. Not taking the tripod, not taking the 16-35, just the 70-200 and see what I can do. I have a few candids I will be posting from the archives and this is one of them
I was meeting up with my wife and some friends last fall for a happy hour and decided to get some shots before I had to be there. This is one that I captured in South Side Works in the South Side (obviously) of Pittsburgh. There is a little area right in front of the Cheesecake Factory and movies theatre that has a fountain and some benches that people just sort of mill around in. I saw this guy poking away on his phone and couldn’t help but get a shot. As in my shot from a few days ago I think he has an iPhone, which I thought was great, because you don’t see a lot of people his age with iPhones. Definitely a reflection of our times. (Sorry, had to do it).
I think I’ve found my groove in terms of processing these. Opened in up in Camera Raw, reduced the overall saturation, added a standard S Curve to bring out some contrast, and finally added a slight Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex. Pretty happy with the result.
I really appreciate the visit everyone. See you tomorrow.
Well, after a long weekend off from work and celebrating my little brother’s 21st birthday, I make a return to the blogging world. It was a fun weekend but I certainly needed yesterday of just sitting on my couch watching basketball to help recover. I think I’m starting to get a bit old.
As my Monday posts are typically a recap of my weekend uploads to flickr, I won’t stray too far from that path on this particular Monday. I actually won’t stray from it at all. Although one of my posts you have already seen on my blog (the panorama of our honeymoon resort), so I will not be posting that one. You are more than welcome to check out that post though if you are in some need some warm weather.
We’ll start with Friday’s post. This is one that I took a few months back at the end of November on a photowalk I did on Mt. Washington. Now I have photographed the city from that location a couple dozen times, but this was definitely a sight that I had not seen in any of those previous visits. I usually like to make the trip up there at night, as the Pittsburgh skyline from that high is just breathtaking. However on this particular trip the sky at a certain rainbow quality to it that was just awesome (that’s “awesome” as in full of awe, not awesome like in Wayne’s World). On Mt. Washington there are a handful of overlooks that stretch out from the main road that you can view the city from. I was a bit farther down than normal, and I had a great view along the river of the main part of Pittsburgh. Set up shot, bracketed and fired away.
Processed this one in HDR Efex under the “Subtle” method from 7 bracketed exposures. I masked in the entire -3 exposure, as it had the best color for that I was going for. Added a curves layer to enhance the red of the red and then a second blue layer to enhance the, well, blue. Did some selective coloring on the top of the PPG Building (the shiny one with spires on top) to bring out the golden tones of the sunset reflecting off of it. Finally, added a Tonal Contrast filter to the city as well as some high pass sharpening to the skyline.
Next up is another candid from our trip to New York in December of last year. I was walking around early Friday morning and caught some iPhone photographers trying to capture the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. I’m always intrigued by pictures of people taking pictures, so I thought I would give it a go. I had dedicated this one on my flickr page to Kurt, aka Ian Sane, as he wrote me a very kind testimonial. Kurt is a master of candids and street photography, and like I said on my flickr page, if you haven’t visited his work, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Not too much to speak of processing wise here. Lowered the overall saturation in Camera Raw and increased the saturation of the reds and greens. Straightened the shot and applied a Tonal Contrast filter (very slight) and the pill box. Voila.
Today’s upload brings us back to that early morning photowalk I went on a few weeks back. Like I’ve said before, the one thing that I have not had much success capturing is the moon, and this is an example of that. I was walking between two hotels new the Point in Pittsburgh and saw the moon glowing over Mt. Washington. I set up the tripod and took the brackets, but wasn’t really happy with the result of the moon. I did however like the overall scene, with the warm glow from the hotel restaurant, the pastel colors in the sky and the motion blur from the tree branches, as it was incredibly wind, so I thought I would process it anyways.
This is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” method. I had a bit of a tough time with the white balance, as I was getting incandescent light from the hotel, halogen from the street lights and the natural light from the moon. I had to do some heavy adjustments to the reds, as the whole shot was just too warm. I also increased the saturation of the sky to help bring out the pastels. I didn’t mask in the entire sky, because like I said, I really liked the motion blur from the trees, it gives to scene a sense of being there, in my opinion. Added a very slight Tonal Contrast filter and call it a day.
Thanks for sticking with me through this long post. I’ll catch everyone tomorrow.
I’ll tell you what, it has not stopped raining for almost 48 hours now. I need to see the sun soon. Until then, how about Jamaica overload today?
One of my favorite parts about being on vacation at an all inclusive resort (other than the fact that I am at the beach, off work and don’t have to worry about a thing except what I want to get next to drink) is the food and drink. I realize that that is why people attend an all inclusive resort, and I don’t know how I can ever go back to going to a non all inclusive. I’ve been to plenty of open bars before, at weddings, parties and the like, but to be able to go to a restaurant or a bar at the resort, order a drink or food and just leave a tip for the whole week? It makes going back to a restaurant in the States that much more difficult, because when you are finished eating, you’re like, “Oh wait, you want me to pay?? I can’t even think about food now!”. I know, I know, you already pay for the food at an all inclusive, but since we normally book our trips about four months in advance, I feel like I’m getting it all for free.
The food at Couples Sans Souci was some of the best we have ever had on vacation. It wasn’t like some of the other all inclusive resorts that we have stayed at, where they try very hard to cater to the different tastes of their guests, and have Mexican, Italian and American food night. While they did have a pasta night at one of the restaurants, it was pasta with a Jamaican kick, something that you probably would not even find in the States.
The other great thing about the food at these resorts is where you get to eat it at. At one of the restaurants, we got a table right on the beach twice, and ate by candlelight listening to the sounds of the ocean. It couldn’t have been more relaxing. We also ate breakfast overlooking the courtyard/main lawn area in front of the resort and had our “formal” dinner overlooking a walkway that went to the beach. Then you come back home, go out to dinner, and have a table of screaming kinds next to you. Awesome.
Anyway, today’s shots are from some of the different restaurants around the resort. The first two are from the buffet style restaurant, Pallazina, and the view from one of our table. The one of the actual restaurant was processed with Photomatix, before I discovered the beauty of HDR Efex. Standard processing on that one, just had to mask in the sky, as there were some crazy halos going on. Also had to reduce the noise in some of the wicker work on the tables and chairs. The second one was taken with my Canon S90 at breakfast during our last day at the resort. There was a nice breeze blowing, and that hammock you see in the tree was swinging back and forth, begging someone to lay on it. Processed that one with HDR Efex, had to mask in some of the tree branches that showed some motion blur. Also added a vibrant green curves layer to give the whole image some pop.
My upload for today is the view from one the beach bar, a view that I’ve posted a few other times, but this one was a little different. I also took this one with my S90, single shot, no HDR this time. Processed it with Color Efex and first added a Tonal Contrast filter to the sand, railing and tree. Then I added a Glamour Glow filter to the entire image, gave it a nice inviting, um, well, glow. Increased saturation of the sand, straightened the horizon, added pillbox borders, and shipped it off the HDR Exposed for your viewing pleasure.
As long as it keeps raining, keep looking for more Jamaica on HDR Exposed. See you guys and gals later.
These last few weeks have been some of the most miserable weather I can remember for a while. I didn’t really want to start off two straight days mentioning the weather, but today is just awful. It’s that wet, slushy snow mixed with rain. Just awful. So today’s shot will try to brighten up outside. First, more from Jamaica.
So yesterday I started with a post of a panorama of Couples Sans Souci that I took with the Canon S90 from about a hundred feet out in the water. Today I’ll give you a shot of the same part of the resort, except looking down from above. That way, you can really get a sense of the resort and how beautiful it was, albeit a bit small. But that’s ok. We really enjoyed the fact that you could see both ends of the beaches and it didn’t just run from resort to resort, where even if your resort did not have any kids, there were big families at the next resort over who were more concerned with getting their next margarita than controlling their children.
This was our first time staying at a couple’s only resort and until we have children of our own, I think that this is the way to go. I mentioned yesterday that the average age was definitely older than us, however we were still able to find people our age that we spent some time hanging out with during our week there. The full capacity of the resort is just over 300 guests, but I would say that there were about half that there in early August of last year. This made it even more enjoyable, as you weren’t packed at the bar waiting for a drink, or waiting forever at a table for dinner, or waiting for anything at all for that matter.
The only time we actually left the resort was to spend a few hours shopping on one rainy afternoon and the day we spent at Dunn’s River Falls, climbing through the waterfall. For the most part, we just moved from a chair on the beach to a raft in the water, back to the chair, back to the raft. They even had a little grille bar on the beach, so we didn’t even have to leave for lunch time, we just grabbed some jerk chicken or pizza at the bar and headed back down to our chairs. And what a view we had.
Today’s shot is a far cry from Jamaica in terms of surroundings and weather, but it’s still colorful in its own way. This is a view from the top of Allegheny Cemetery one a photowalk that I went on last fall with Mike Criswell, a.k.a. Theaterwiz. Wiz and the Empress came down from Ohio to do some shooting in downtown Oakland, have some lunch at Hofbrauhaus and then head on over the Allegheny Cemetery. Even though I live less than twenty minutes from there, I had never been there before, so I was anxious to go shooting. It was a beautiful fall day, a perfect day to capture the sights from a historic place like that. You can actually see Wiz on the right hand side of this shot.
Now for the processing. This is a nine exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Dark Soft” method. I added a control point in the sky, as it made the clouds darker than I liked. Kicked it over to Photoshop where I added a level adjustment to the blues to enhance the little bit of sky peeking through and an overall saturation layer to enhance all the colors. Adjusted the shadows to recover them just a pinch. I masked it some of the clouds as well, because a few of them were a little blown out. Added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color and some High Pass sharpening and call it a day.
That’s all for today. More to come tomorrow.
Oh yeah, Pens won last night against the Sabres. First regulation win since February 4th. Against the Sabres.
Ok, ok, so I know that it isn’t getting that much warmer around here, but we are supposed to have three straight days of 50+ degree weather, which is pretty excited. Granted, there is the western Pennsylvania spring rain that will come along with it, but I’ll take what I can get.
Since we are about to have a bit of a warm spell, I thought that I would warm up HDR Exposed with a shot from Jamaica, another panorama. I won’t be posting this one to flickr (at least not right now), but I still think it is a pretty cool shot.
Like I’ve mentioned a few times before, we stayed at the Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios Jamaica and could not have been happier with our choice. The last couple tropical vacations we took to Punta Cana and Cancun, we certainly more of a party atmosphere. After planning a wedding for almost two years, especially dealing with the last couple months before the wedding, we were just looking for someone nice and quiet to relax and take some time off. That’s exactly what we found at Couples Sans Souci. Sure there was some partying at night, but with no kids running around and the average age of the other people at the resort a good ten years older than us, we found a nice mix of fun, sun and relaxation.
I’ll be posting a few shots from our trip everyday this week to try to encourage the warm weather to get here faster. Who knows, maybe it will work. As for the processing on the panorama, it is a twelve shot pano/vertorama, with six shots for the top and six for the bottom. Photoshop CS5 did a great job of blending the sky, so I just had to do some minor shadow adjustment. This is the view of the entire resort, so you can see how small and secluded it is. It doesn’t share beaches with other resorts, so you didn’t get the peddlers or random people walking through what you were trying to lay on the beach. Very nice.
Today’s “official” upload is a far cry from the beaches in Jamaica. This is the Portal Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that is near the Point in downtown Pittsburgh. I took this the day I took most of my previous uploads, on that Saturday morning that was cold and windy. I’ve been wanting to capture this bridge for a while, but all of the construction that they’ve been doing around the Point has made it a bit difficult, and I even had to move some signage and construction barrels out of the way for this shot. It was built in 1961 and connects the tip of downtown Pittsburgh to Point State Park.
On to the processing. This is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Clean” Method. The lighting was a bit tricky to handle, as, like I’ve said before, the D700 gets a little confused sometimes with white balance from different light sources. I had to tone down the warm lights coming from the side of the bridge and added an overall desaturation layer. Applied a Tonal Contrast filter, added some definition in iPhoto and shipped it off to the blog.
Thanks for your visits everyone, they are much appreciated.
Back and blogging after what seemed like too short of a weekend. Attended an ‘80s themed birthday party this weekend. Let’s just saying that it was…interesting. I did take a whole bunch of pictures, but I’m not sure I’ll be sharing them on here. People have reputations that they probably want to protect.
Today is going to be somewhat of a catch up day on HDR Exposed, as Mondays usually are. I have a variety of pictures you post, seeing that I unconsciously post more random pictures on the weekend that during the week. Actually, I’m not sure if it has something to do with having more time on the weekend to take a look through my “For Flickr” folder than I have on my hard drive and pick out an interesting one, compared to the weekday, where I’m a bit more rushed and more or less just pick a random one from there. The backlog of shots is getting a little low, so I may need to get out shooting sometime soon. I’d like to do some street candids in Pittsburgh on a Friday or Saturday night, but I think that it is still a little too cold out for that. We even got more snow yesterday. I’m about ready for spring to come around, when we can leave the doors and the windows open and you don’t feel so cramped and stuffy in your own house. Soon, very soon, spring is coming.
On to the shots. The first shot is a candid that I took while we were in New York, on Friday morning during the AM rush hour. Speaking of it being cold, it was absolutely FREEZING that morning, but I think at the time I took this shot my fingers hadn’t frozen yet. I was getting ready to cross the street in front of Radio City Music Hall when I saw this lady crossing the street. I captured her right when she was kind of making this goofy expression which just added to the shot. The only thing I didn’t capture was a perfectly crisp shot. Since it was so early and my first couple shots had been with a tripod, I hadn’t adjusted my ISO yet, so there was a little motion blur. I touched that up with Topaz InFocus then ran it through my typical cinematic processing steps, or at least my version of it. Decreased overall saturation, did a selective coloring adjustment on the red in her coat and the greens in the sign and bush. Added a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex and the pillbox to finish it up.
Next is my post from yesterday. This is another early morning shot, except this one is from the Steel City (Pittsburgh, just in case) a few Saturdays ago. Equally as cold but with the element of wind too. Fun stuff. Took this one soon after I arrived downtown, and my initial plan was the head over the Clemente Bridge. Well, I made it about this far, took the shot, then turned around, because the wind was really whipping across the water. So I took my seven bracketed shots and moved on. This is a view from the Clemente Bridge looking down the Allegheny River towards the Rachel Carson Bridge and Convention Center, which you can just see the first light of day starting to come up behind.
For the processing, pretty standard to all the rest of the shots in this series. A seven shot HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Natural” method. Adjusted sliders accordingly, then kicked it over the Photoshop and Color Efex. I masked in the enter sky of the -2 exposure, with some minor adjusting to the original shot. Desaturated the reds in the roads and from the lamps, as the D700 has a bit of problem sometimes with white balance. Masked out a corner of a piece of the bridge in the upper left and finally added a Low Key filter to the entire shot from Color Efex.
On to today’s shot, which I will be posting a little later today on flickr. This is a panorama that I took last Wednesday on the far end of Mt. Washington in the late afternoon. I had some time to kill before heading to friend’s for the Penguin game. I had actually seen this exact shot, as someone in my office had it hanging in their office, so I think I would give it a try. I would have liked to do the panorama with my 70-200 zoom, but all I had was the 16-35 with me, so I took it at 35mm. On the right you can see the Point and the city of Pittsburgh and how high the water is. We got a lot of rain early last week, which caused all three rivers to rise, shutting down parking lots and some areas of the North Shore and the Point. I really like this vantage point too, because you can see the Monongahela River on the right, the Allegheny on the left, and where they converge to form the Ohio. Pretty cool stuff. On the left you can see Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On to the processing. This is a panorama of three 5 exposure HDRs, stitched together in CS5. The HDRs were created under in HDR Efex under the “Subtle” HDR method, as I didn’t want to go too heavy handed on the HDR since I was making a panorama. I didn’t like the way the sky looked, so I masked in the entire sky on all three HDRs. Adjusted the yellows of the bridges and Heinz Field to make them stand out and desaturated the browns of the lifeless trees to make them not to distracting. Lastly I corrected the skyline and gave the overall shot some definition in iPhoto.
Whew. I’m exhausted. But today you got a little bit of everything, candids, regular HDRs and panorama HDRs. What more could you want?
I haven’t really talked about the Pens much over the past week and there are a couple of reasons for that. First, they have only played two games in the past seven days, which has given the banged up team some time to rest. Second, they haven’t been playing too hot as of yet, but that can be forgiven, as they do have some new guys in the lineup (Alexei Kovalev, James Neal and Mat Niskanen), and it is bound to take a few games for them all to gel with the incumbent team. We are starting to see a little more chemistry in every game, so the moves of general manager Ray Shero are certainly showing promise.
Today I wanted to address the Sidney Crosby story. As most people inside of the world of hockey and out know, Sid has been sidelined with a concussion since January 5th of this year, the result of two hits to the head. The first occurred in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, while he was looking back for the puck and David Steckel, who was moving up the ice to go for the puck, caught Crosby blindside with a shoulder to the side of the his head. Then, in the next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby took what looked to be a fairly normal check from Victor Hedman, but his head hit the glass in a bit of a awkward way. As a side note, neither of these hits were penalized, yet Matt Cookie of the Penguins received a four game suspension for a hit on Fedor Tyutin of the Columbus Blue Jackets that Tytutin saw coming and just neglected to get out of the way. But that is neither here nor there.
It was originally thought that Crosby would miss just a week with a mild concussion, however eight and a half weeks later, we still have no word on his status, only that he is “getting better” and hopes to come back this year. He has been absent from the public eye, which has lead to some wild rumors being thrown around about the actually severity of his injury. The last thing that we as the fans and more so Sid and the Penguins want to happen is to have him come back too soon and suffer a career threatening injury.
So what does the future hold for the Crosby-less Penguins, who are also missing star center Evgeni Malkin who had season ending knee surgery? Well, the immediately future is looking better than it did just two weeks ago. With the aforementioned acquisitions that the Penguins front office has made, it certainly bolsters a lineup that was starting to thin. Injured players are slowly recovering from injury, like winger Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey. They have been getting solid goaltending as of late from Marc Andre Fleury, who has really taken the team on his back over the last few months and allowed the Pens to be in games that they may not typically have been in had he not made some unbelievable saves. The penalty kill, which struggled for a few games, seems to be playing like the number one unit in the league again. Jordan Staal has certainly stepped up and embraced his new role as the leader of the team and has certainly gained confidence playing on the first line.
But it’s not the same without Sid the Kid, Hart Trophy winner, Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Stanley Cup Champion, Olympic gold medalist, and frankly the best hockey player in the world. If he doesn’t come back this year, I’m okay with that. I will be a Penguin fan my entire life, I want Sid to stay healthy and a Penguin the rest of his long career and I plan on watching all of it.
To go with the theme of the title I thought that I would switch it up today and post a candid from a few weeks back. I think, subconsciously or not, I’ve been posting one non pager a week, which seems to be a good practice to liven up the stream a bit. The main types of public transportation in the city of Pittsburgh are buses and the “T”, as it’s known locally. The T is more or less a trolley that will take you from about fifteen miles south of the city straight into downtown. I live very close to a few of the stops, so when I go to Penguin games, I simply hop on the T and it drops me right off the next to the arena. Pretty sweet deal.
This is a candid that I took on one of my rides down to a game. We were just about to go over the trolley bridge over the Monongahela River into downtown and this guy seemed to be oblivious that I was there. I wanted to get a picture with the girl behind him and the city bokehed out the window, but I picked a bad seat, as I was sitting right across from them. Cranked the ISO way up and literally put up the camera up the in the air and clicked the shutter. Not too bad for “shooting from the shoulder”.
Just some light processing here. Desaturated the image to give it a cinematic feel, added a warming layer and a blue curves adjustment layer to enhance, well, the blues. Gave it a very light Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and added the pill box to finish it off.
Hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend ahead. Let’s go Pens.
A few days ago I did a write up on all the sports arenas in Pittsburgh, both past and present. Well, maybe not all of them, but all of the significant ones. Yesterday there was some pretty big news in Pittsburgh around perhaps the most iconic one, Mellon Arena. As we know, the Penguins moved out of the Igloo this season and across the street into the new CONSOL Energy Center. The decision was made last October to have the old Civic Arena torn down, and a new development put in, with shops, apartments, etc. It was going to be designed to help reconnect the city to the Hill District, as the home of Penguins had separated the two for nearly fifty years. The demolition was scheduled for early 2011.
But here we are early March 2011 and the arena is still standing, as we saw in my upload from a few days back. That’s because right after the decision to implode the arena was made, historical organizations began fighting for the preservation of the building, claiming that it was a cultural landmark and should be saved. My two cents on the whole issue is this. It is an old building. Inside? Pretty ugly. Cool, but ugly. It’s small, cramped, and not a whole lot to use it for. Besides, even if they did want to use it for concerts, shows and the like, why would anyone want to perform in a fifty year old building when they can perform at a less than one year old building across the street? I’m not even taking into consideration what it would take to keep the Civic Arena operational and safe for patrons, but I have to imagine it would be astronomical.
My opinions aside, the historical societies were dealt a blow yesterday, when the Pittsburgh Historic Review panel denied the Civic Arena’s status as a city historic structure. Although the preservations will eventually take the battle to the city council, which will have the final say, it is not looking too good for the world’s first retractable domed stadium.
On to today’s shots. Well, technically I only have one shot to post to flickr, but I was up on Mt. Washington shooting and killing time yesterday, and got a pretty cool tilt shift with Canon S95 that I wanted to share first. I haven’t processed a tilt shift in Photoshop for a while, but I may see what I can dig up. For now though, I am pretty happy with the effect provided by the S95.
Today’s official shot it another one from a few Saturdays ago. After I made my way across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, the moon was still just above the horizon. All the tones seemed to blend together so nicely, even the reds and the blues. There was a perfect gradient in the sky that matched the color of the building, and the blue right along top of the sky even seemed to match the water. I set up the tripod, took the bracket of seven shots, and made my way towards PNC Park.
Processed this one pretty similar to the other ones in the set. The bracketed shots were put through HDR Efex using the HDR Method “Soft”. I masked in the -3 exposure, to make sure that I got that rich color gradient fading from red to blue. I added a blue curves layer to enhance the upper park of the sky and also masked in the light post you see on the right as it was just a little blown out. Added a Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex and High Pass Sharpening, as usual. Finally, adjusted the overall curves of the scene to give it a bit more contrast, saved and uploaded.
Ahhh, can you smell that? Friday is in the air. Enjoy your day guys.
The early morning has to be one of my favorite times of the day for photography, especially in Pittsburgh. You have an entire city, still asleep, with just the occasional jogger zipping by with a slight nod, acknowledging that you are equally crazy to get up and go outside on a weekend morning in the freezing cold Pittsburgh winter. During the day you have to wait for people to get out of your frame, wait to cross the street, and try not to get run over by a bus or cab or people on bikes. Not to mention the lighting is pretty poor, the sun beating down directly over you. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun, shooting into it, capturing sun flares, etc., but at this point I think that I have documented our city at high noon quite enough. In the morning though, you can cross the street wherever, set up your tripod, make sure all your settings are correct snap, recompose, snap again. During the day you have to run, throw down the tripod, snap the shot, bolt off the street, and hope you got it right. Being alone downtown kind of makes you feel like you own the city, at least for that hour before the hustle and bustle begins. You almost get a little bit sad when you see other people starting to appear on the sidewalks, traffic gets heavy, it starts getting noisy. There are very few times during a day when a big city is actually quiet. In Pittsburgh, the bars close at 2:00 am, and the streets are finally empty around 3:30. The city wakes up around 8:00. Sp that leaves you a little over four hours to have the city to yourself. I know that those are some early hours, but it is well worth setting your alarm for.
Today’s shot is another one from that early morning photowalk. I had picked out this spot to actually watch the sunrise and had planted myself there about 15 minutes before it actually came up. I said hello to a few inspired joggers, captured a 15 image, HDR panorama, flicked through of the shots that I had already taken, and waited for the sun to come up. I ended up moving the left of the this view to get the actual sunrise, as it was just peaking around the corner of the building that is blocking the sun in this shot. This really is a great place to shoot the city. I’ve been here a few times now, with both the other times being a night (see below). I will definitely have to make a trip down here on fireworks night during a Pirates game.
Nothing overly special about the processing today. This is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the Subtle HDR Method. I usually would mask in the -2 or -3 exposure for the sky, but for this one I masked in the 0 exposure compensation exposure. I wanted the sky to be right at the end of blown out over the bridge to give the effect that the sun was just about to come up. Added a green curves level for the grass and a red one for the skyline. Dodged the shrubbery around the scene as it was a bit too dark for my liking. Finally, added a High Pass Sharpening Filter and called it a day.
Halfway home everyone. Enjoy your Wednsday.
I thought that it would only be fitting that I post a picture of the two hockey arenas in Pittsburgh since I posted the football and baseball stadiums the last couple days. The city of Pittsburgh truly has been blessed with some incredible sports venues, and both of these are no exception. I did a write up on Mellon Arena, the old home of the Penguins a view months back, when I was blogging every month and a half or so. I wanted to take some time and talk about the sporting arena in general, especially those in Pittsburgh.
Now, we haven’t always had the good fortune of having three of the best venues to watch professional sports in the country. It all started back in 1895 with the Schenley Park Casino, which was Pittsburgh’s first multi use arena, and the first arena in the country to have an artificial ice surface. It was destroyed in 1896 by a gas explosion. That was succeeded by the Duquesne Gardens, which played host to a variety of sports teams, but mainly the Pittsburgh Pirates (who became known later as the Penguins…totally different from the baseball team, as the baseball Pirates have been around since the late 1800’s). Duquesne Gardens was the first arena to actually have glass above the dasher boards, developed by (you guessed it) Pittsburgh Plate Glass (ok, so maybe if you weren’t from Pittsburgh you didn’t guess it). It stayed open from 1899 until 1956, when it was destroyed as the city was beginning construction on the new Civic Arena (more on this in a bit). But that was strictly for basketball and hockey. The Pirates (baseball) needed a home too. They first played at Exposition Park, which was located not too far from the current location of PNC Park along Pittsburgh’s North Shore. They played their home games there for almost 20 years, from 1890 until 1909, when they moved to the famous Forbes Field. Here they would share the stadium with the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers until 1970.
However parts of the field still remain around Pittsburgh today. You can see the left field wall over which Bill Mazeroski hit his legendary home run to beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, as well as a statue of Maz outside of PNC Park (pictured above). You can also find the home plate from Forbes Field in Posvar Hall at the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, very near its exact location in the park, and the outline of the outfield wall still remains. Two separate fires sadly forced the demolition of this historic venue in 1971, being replaced by Three Rivers Stadium.
Three Rivers, aptly named for being where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio near the Point in Pittsburgh, played home for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers for three decades. It was built in the era of “cookie cutter” stadiums, very drab on the outside, and not much better on the interior. In fact, for baseball games, they had to tarp off sections of the seats directly behind center field, as it would interfere with the batters’ ability to pick up the ball from the hand of the pitcher (newer stadiums simply do not have seats there, including PNC Park). The park could be reconfigured to suit both football and baseball, but by the early 1990s, talks had begun to get the Pirates their own stadium and remodel the existing Three Rivers to be strictly a football venue. In July 1999, over $800 million worth of funding was approved for both Heinz Field (pictured above) and PNC Park (pictured below), and ground was broken to begin construction in 1999, with both teams enjoying their new homes for the 2001 seasons. I’ve only ever seen one game in Heinz Field (and it was a hockey game, the Winter Classic), but it is one of the most unique football stadiums in the country, with the open end giving spectators a view of the city of Pittsburgh and the Point. PNC Park is consistently voted the most beautiful baseball park in the country, again having one whole side of the park open and being able to see the entire city skyline.
As for the Civic Arena (pictured below), home of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1966 until 2010, I won’t go into a lot of details since I’ve written about it before. Feel free to check out that post. I will mention that it was the first domed sporting venue that had a retractable roof, though it has not been functional for over a decade. One interesting fact is that when it opened it contained only 12,508, just eight seats over the minimum NHL requirement for capacity.
In August of 2010, the CONSOL Energy, pictured above, opened and it makes the Civic Arena look like something from ancient Rome. Don’t get me wrong, I love the “Igloo” as the Civic Arena was nicknamed, there is something about old sporting venues that you just have to appreciate. But CONSOL is the new model that arenas will be built around in the future.
I took the last shot, which is today’s upload, on my photowalk last Saturday morning. I did the best I could to include all both the Civic Arena and CONSOL in the photo, but this is literally as far back as I could stand, as there was a fence and a steep fill behind me. This is a side of the building that I’ve captured before, though you weren’t able to see the Igloo in the background. For the processing, this is a seven exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the Clean HDR Method. Masked in the entire sky as well as the flags, as it was really windy on this particular morning and I had crazy ghosting effects. Overall desaturation and then added a blue curves layer for the sky, as well as a Tonal Contrast Filter from Color Efex, then finished it off the with a High Pass Sharpening filter.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk down Pittsburgh sports arena memory lane. Catch you tomorrow.