HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “brooklyn bridge

One more time

It’s so difficult when you go to a place that’s been photographed as much as New York has been to find some way to make it your own.  Not just by the random guy with a P&S that he’s had for five years snapping away either.  Obviously you have professionals, professional amateurs, regular amateurs, artists, everyone you can think of.  And really, it’s not just New York, it’s any place you go, even Pittsburgh.  I’ve fallen into the trap myself of taking the “obligatory” shot of the Pittsburgh skyline (ok, I’ve down this many times), and the shot in the middle of Times Square, and the Brooklyn Bridge at night.  It’s equally as difficult both when you live in a place and when you are visiting it.  I live in Pittsburgh, so I am constantly shooting in and around the city.  Like I said in yesterday’s post, I feel like I need to take a fresh look at the city, and I do have a few ideas for the next couples weeks.  As for when you visit somewhere, like New York or Boston or Chicago or LA, you want to make sure you get THE shot: the Brooklyn Bridge in NY, Fenway in Boston, Navy Pier in Chicago, the Hollywood sign in LA.  The question is, once you get that picture, now what?

For me, I didn’t want to leave New York without putting my spin on at least a few of the typical shots.  So I scoured flickr for hours looking at hundreds (eh, probably thousands) of shots from around the city in places that I knew we were going to be going, especially the aforementioned Brooklyn Bridge.  I wanted to make sure that we were there in the afternoon, because I knew I wanted to incorporate the sun in the shot.  There are surprisingly few pictures of sun flares and the bridge, so I knew I had it.  It was a sunny day on the day we were heading there, so I thought I was in luck.  I got “the shot”, standing right in the middle of the bridge then kind of climbed onto the railing.  I couldn’t just lean over, because the way the bridge was bouncing from the cars I wouldn’t have got five clean exposures.  Unfortunately, clouds had moved in by this time, and I didn’t have a crisp shot of the sun, as the clouds were diffusing all the rays, preventing me from getting the sunflare I wanted.  I still like how it turned out.

I think it is very important to do some research on where you are going before you get there.  You don’t have to spend hours looking at pictures, but take a look at a few, that way, when you get there you aren’t surprised at what you find.  You will have an idea of where you need to be and what will work for your photography style.  

Technical time for the shot above.  We know it’s five shots and handheld and it was processed with HDR Efex.  I needed to mask in the cars, the people walking and just tiny halo around the bridge.  I added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex, just to the bridge and the road, to give it more of a gritty feel.  I also selectively adjusted the reds to give them more of an orange look.  Added an S curve to give it some contrast finally, but certainly not least, a high pass sharpening.

Until next time.


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!

Meet and greet

So yesterday I had the chance to meet some of the Pittsburgh Penguins at an autograph session at one of our local malls.  You donate to charity and then get to stand in line for a few hours to get some autographs.  It’s the third year that I’ve done it, but it is still pretty cool!  I know I’m not a little kid, but it’s hard still not to be a little star struck around these guys.  I mean here there are, world class, Stanley Cup champion athletes, sitting right in front of you!  You see people getting jerseys, pennants, flags, shirts, hats, pucks signed, which is all well and good, but for me, one of the most exciting parts is having them sign a picture that I took.  Then I know that no one else has an autograph like mine!  Just wanted to say thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins for putting the event on and of course Pascal Dupuis, Eric Godard and Tyler Kennedy for taking the time out of their day to sit down and sign autographs for their fans!

Today’s shot is a bit different than my last couple weeks worth of posts, because it is not an HDR and it is not a busy New York scene (though it kinda still is); it’s me!  This is a shot that my wife too on our last day in the city when we were on the Brooklyn Bridge.  She has a nice eye for taking pictures and I keep trying to get her to come out shooting with me, but she won’t!  One of these days I’ll get her out!  Anyways, every once and a while she will ask for my S95 and say “Let me get a picture of you.”  On this occasion I thought sure, why not, struck my best action pose, and this is what she got!

Now, just because she takes good pictures doesn’t mean she edits them.  I wanted to do something a bit different with this one and not just a tonemapped single exposure HDR.  So, I plopped it in Photoshop and the first thing I did was recover some of the blown out sky.  And this point in the day it was a bit overcast, so the sky was a little “Eh”.  Then I thought, “Why don’t I just do the whole thing in B&W?”  So I did!  Ran it through Nik’s Silver Efex, used a veryyyyyyyyyyyyy slight sepia color filter, a bit more structure and the vignette and was feeling pretty good about it!  Back to CS5, blurred the background a bit as I was taking a movie before this shot and forgot to switch back to Aperture Priority and f2 (I think she just used Auto) to give a nice depth of field.  Added a bit of grain for a film effect too.  So there ya go!  That’s me!

Look at that, you got to meet three professional hockey players and a very amateur photographer today…we’ll work on the greet another time!

Wounded Wings and Candid Captures

Woo hoo, Pens win!  Went to the Pens-Red Wings game last night as we emerged victorious 4-1.  Penalty shot goals, more awesome penalty killing…all around a great game.  Although let’s be honest: it’s hard to say this was a REAL rematch when they had 7 guys on the injured list, including Datsyuk and Howard.  Doesn’t matter in the win column, if they had the Pittsburgh Pirates playing for them, still counts as win. 

 It’s really not right to bash the Pirates I guess.  I live here though, have watched this 18 year collapse, so I think I’m allowed…I mean 18 straight years of sub .500 ball?  Are you kidding me?  Oh wait, that’s right.  They’re rebuilding.  Rebuilding what?  The Pyramids?  Ancient Rome?  A full size Empire State Building with toothpicks?  The Pens rebuilt in 4 years.

 Speaking of the Pens, the shot above is from the game last night.  It’s a shot of Craig Adams taking a shot in warm ups.  In case you ask, no, those are not my seats, I just sneak down there for practice.  He’s one of my favorite players, vital to the #1 ranked penalty kill the league.  Not the most well known, but we never would have won a Cup without him.


On to today’s shot (finally).  We’re heading back to New York!  This is another one that I took from the Brooklyn Bridge on the last day that we were in New York, Sunday.  As you can imagine, there are plenty of other people trying to get pictures at the same time.  I thought that I would try to get a shot of one of these photographers.  This guy was pretty serious, and he never took his face away from the camera.  Took a ton of pictures, never looked at the viewfinder.  Not sure what he was shooting, but he had no idea we were even there!  Rattled off 5 handheld exposures, and away we went!

I’m liking this blogging everyday type thing…I’ll think I’ll keep up with it!  No weekends (well, maybe Sunday, depending on how my Saturday night was), but I think I can do everyday!

Until tomorrow!