HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

photography

Fight to the finish

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Open to possibilities

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

 

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

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

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


Focused on the now

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

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

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

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

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


Topsy turvy

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

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

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

Happy Wednesday everyone and thanks for stopping by.


Cutting through

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

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

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

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

Take care until tomorrow.


Taking it all in

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

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

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

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

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


Catching some air

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your weekends, see you on Monday.


Illuminating

Thank you to everyone who visited my blog yesterday, I had over triple of my average views for the year.  Not exactly sure how this stuff happens sometimes, but I am glad it does.

On to today’s shot.  I took this one a few weeks ago on a little stroll through downtown Pittsburgh.  This is the entrance to the Steel Building or USX Tower right near the center of town.  I was walking by a bit before rush hour and about 45 minutes after I took this shot, the sidewalk in front of the building would have been completely packed with people waiting for rides or buses to come and pick them up.  I really enjoy being downtown at this time of day, because there are so many different sizes and shapes of buildings, that it really filters the light well and you get cool beams coming through like this one.

Usually the camera police come out and tell you that you can’t take pictures in front of the Steel Building (yep, camera, not just tripod, these guys are crazy) and I saw one of the guards eyeing me up, but he was wither too tired to come outside or just didn’t care.  Guess I didn’t look like much of a threat.

Bonus:  Can you spot the guy who just narrowly missed scoring the lead role in “Multiplicity” instead of Michael Keaton?

Pretty standard when it came to processing this one.  Five exposure handheld HDR, processed with Photomatix.  Did a bit of masking to get rid of ghosting from the car on the right and the people in the center (I thought that Multiplicity man was pretty cool).  I had a few slight halos, so I just masked in the -2 exposure for the sky.  Added a red curves adjustment layer to enhance the building and a blue one for the sky.  Also added a Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex, and a Progressive Sharpening and Firenze filter from onOne PhotoTools, the former to, well, sharpen the image and the later to give the sunlight some more glow.  Slapped on the logo and exported to blog.

Thanks for all the support and visits.  See you tomorrow, which is Friday, which is good.


Centurial

Well, today is my 100th post on my blog.  Of the last 99, 26 of them were from 2009 and 2010 combined with the rest coming this year, which is kind of crazy, given the fact that I just started really committing to my blog in late January.  Daily traffic to my blog has tripled since then as well, so I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who is a regular visitor and also those of you who just mosey on by every once and while.  I really appreciate all the support I receive from everyone.  Here’s to another couple hundred.  Or thousand.

 

Today’s shot is one that I really don’t even remember taking.  I mean, I can believe I took it, but as I was looking through my pictures from Mt. Washington I saw it and thought, “Huh”.  So I went ahead and processed it and really liked the way that it came out.  This is a view up the Monongahela River, one of the two rivers that meet at the Point to form the Ohio River.  You also get a view of some of the distinct bridges we have in the city (from bottom to top, excluding the second from the bottom which is the trolley bridge):  Smithfield Street, Liberty, 10th Street and Birmingham.  In the center of the shot you can see the Allegheny County Jail (which you also saw a few posts ago) and in the foreground is the top of the Grand Concourse in Station Square.  Off in the distance is the top of the Cathedral of Learning, the iconic building on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.  All that being said, I think my favorite thing about this shot is the shadow that is created by the city lights of the trolley bridge on the water.  You would normally expect to see reflections, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the shadows.

On to the processing.  This is a seven exposure HDR processed with Photomatix.  It was a bit flat coming out of the tonemapping, so I applied an S curve to bring back some of the contrast.  I applied a Pro Contrast filter in Color Efex, as well as a warming filter in Photoshop to cool the entire image.  In onOne PhotoTools I used the Progressive Sharpening filter to being out some details and the Firenza filter to also cool down the blues.  A bit of spot healing in the sky to get rid of some dust specks and that was that.

Again, thank you for all of your support on my last 100 posts.  I hope that you all will continue to follow me in the future.


Blinded by the light

You know how sometimes when you are out shooting you get home and say to yourself, “I literally do not like any of shots”?  Some may be ok, but most are just like “Eh”.  But then there are the times (at least for me being a primarily HDR photographer) that it’s almost like I want to hurry up and get home and cut the photowalk short because I just want to start processing my images, I am that excited about that.  My little walk on Mt. Washington a few weeks ago was like that, and this shot in particular.

So my last post featured a candid I took as I was wrapping up the early part of my walk, before dinner and this one wraps up the end of the night.  I have been on Mt. Washington countless times since I got my camera and never once noticed this glowing red cross on the church on Grandview.  I’m not sure if it’s because I never really am down this far on Grandview or if I just never looked at it, but when I was walking back to my car, I knew I had to get a shot of it.  Luckily there was still a fair amount of traffic coming through, so I was able to get a nice light trail going through the frame as well.  One of my favorite parts of the shot is the reflection of the light trails along the railing on the right.  I didn’t even notice it at first when I was looking at the shots on the LCD, but as soon as the HDR popped up I noticed them.  I’ve included the selective color version below and am open to suggestions and opinions as to which one you like better.

This a 5 exposure (-1 to +3) HDR processed with Photomatix with all additional edits done in Photoshop CS5.  The first thing I had to do was tonemap the +3 exposure to help lighten the church and then do a light mask on it (25%), as the HDR process made it a little too dark for my liking.  I also used the +2 exposure to mask in some of the light trails, mainly on the left had side of the frame, to give them a more continuous look.  The bright yellow sign was blown out from the +3 exposure, so I used the -1 exposure to recover some of the lost details there.  Next, I added a Pro Contrast filter in Color Efex and a blue curves layer to make the sky a little more vibrant.

To get the selective color, I did a SelectàColor Range and picked all the reds, oranges and yellow, minus the sign in the foreground.  I then used Silver Efex to convert to do the black and white conversion.

That about wraps it up today.  See you again tomorrow.