HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

A city awakens

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.


2 responses

  1. Dude, I gotta get to the Burgh! your shots are great Dave, I enjoy seeing the city thru your eyes. Jim

    March 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    • Thanks Jim! You and Pete should make a trip up! I think that he is coming up for the U2 concert in July!

      March 3, 2011 at 6:20 am

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