HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “canon s90

What legends are made of

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.

Tried out the Tilt Shift function on this one

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.


Just another day in paradise

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.


Cloudy flickr future

Yesterday I said I was inspired by Pete Talke of Places2Explore and his recent discussion on flickr and wanted to put my twp pennies in, for what it is worth.  The shots from this post are clouds that I took from our honeymoon.

Back in 2008, right after I got my first dSLR, the Nikon D40X, I was looking up ideas on interesting pictures to take on the internet.  I stumbled upon Trey’s blog on HDR, read his tutorial, started looking into other tutorials on HDR, and well, we know where that led to.  So I had all these HDRs, and my friends and family were fun to show them to, but I wanted a way to share them with a lot more people.  Just by searching “places to post pictures online” I came upon flickr.  Looked cool, so I posted two pictures in September of 2008, then kind of forgot about it until March of 2009.  I purchased my pro account (the first of three) and really started to get hooked.

 I was posting into about 50 groups a day, leaving all kinds of awards and faves on peoples’ shots, Nikon Award, Heart Award, Peace Award, blah blah blah.  I would comment and rate, and then see what people had to say about my work.  I got some good feedback sometimes, but usually it was just the award that was left.  Eventually I started to build up my contact list, and thought “This is awesome”, because I was getting all these comments and faves.  After being on flickr for about a year, I got pretty bored with all the groups.  It was an effort, and I didn’t even really like half the pictures I was awarding.  So, I pared down the contact list from over 600 to around 350, stopped posting in groups, stopped worry about Explore and focused on some of the great flickr contacts that I had made.  Which brings me to today.

Today I usually post one picture a day, and catch up on all my contacts’ work.  I would say I have about 100-150 active contacts, those who are posting daily or multiple times a day, and I try to comment on all of them.  It is about as much work as leaving Flickr Awards on peoples’ work, but I at least give better comments about photographers’ work that I actually appreciate.  But that brings me to a point that Pete brought up.  I comment on some people just because they comment on me, as that is what the flickr commenting community is all about (in my opinion): reciprocation.  You comment on me, I’ll comment on you.  But where does that get me?  I have no problem being a nice guy and throwing a few comments back someone’s way who has taken time to look at my work, but what if I don’t like their work?  I’m not saying that it is bad, just that it is not my style?  I’ve tried to sift through and phase out those kind of contacts, because flickr is a lot of work, especially if you are leaving comments just for the sake of leaving comments.  I’m not saying that this is the majority of my contacts, but it does make up a certain percentage.

I have made some great contacts through flickr, including Pete, and for that I am glad that I joined.  I also made my first sales through flickr from people finding my work.  But I think that it is fast losing its appeal to me.  First off, I have a blog now, where I go into more details about my work and can post larger viewable images.  I also have a website, where I have the vast majority (or will soon) of shots that I have on flickr on there as well.  I enjoy spending time updating my website and writing these blog entries, but flickr just gets so tiresome a lot of the time.

Another thing about the actual flickr site is that it rarely updates.  It looks basically the same since when I first signed up in 2008.  For a photo sharing website, it certainly doesn’t make the pictures very appealing.  The images are small, it usually manipulates the colors somehow or makes the image darker.  The stats don’t really provide that much insight into your views, because a big chunk always seems to be “Unknown Source”, so I have no idea who is even looking at my uploads.  This is important to me, because while I will usually let someone use a picture of mine on their blog for personal use, if they do not contact me and request permission first, I ask them to take it down.  If I don’t know where the incoming links are coming from, how can I monitor who is using my images?

How about Explore.  This is supposed to be the best of the best, the cream of the crop of flickr.  Instead, flickr changes the algorithm so much that I haven’t made Explore in over a year and a half.  Yet pictures of cats can.  I mean, come on.  Not saying I have the best work on flickr, but it’s better than a picture of a cat.

So will I stop using flickr?  Probably not.  Will I drastically reduce the time I will spend on the website?  Yes.  I will be reducing my contacts who only comment after I comment on one of their uploads, I will continue to not post in groups and generally spend less time on the site.  I may start uploading more, because I won’t be as concerned with receiving comments and faves.  I still think that flickr is a great medium to get yourself found, and I do get a fair number of incoming links to my blog from flickr.  But other than pure traffic, I think that flickr may have run its course as a social/photosharing medium, especially with the rise of Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

So that’s my rant on flickr.  I’d love to hear what you guys have to say about it.

For today’s post, we go back to New York.  I’ve posted a shot of the West Side Story billboard at night, but I wanted to make sure that I posted one from during the day as well.  This is a five handheld exposure HDR, processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting.  I had to do a lot of masking of the video sign, the sky and the people on the street.  I also added a slight Tonal Contrast and Cooling filter, as it was a bit too warm for my taste.

Enjoy your Thursday, happy St. Patty’s.


Seat with a view

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.


World of color

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.


Getting warmer

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.


South Side Attractions, Part 1

I’m going to start being a better blogger…I know, I know, I’ve been VERY lax lately (this is my first post in a month!)  Anyways, I will be starting a series here that will give everyone a little tour of the South Side of Pittsburgh.  These will not be in consecutive order (I wouldn’t want to bore you!), but over the next couple weeks I will showcase a few South Side locations!  So to start off today we have…

THE REX THEATRE

The Rex Theatre was built in the South Side in 1905 and was originally designed for vaudeville performances and shows.  Over the next 90 years it became a movie house for all in Pittsburgh to enjoy.  However, the theatre fell on some hard times and had to shut it’s doors.  It reopened about a decade ago, and now plays host to concerts, cabaret style shows and movies, as well as offer a full service bar.

BARRY’S PUB

Barry’s Pub will always hold a special place in my heart, as that is where my fiance and I had our first date!  It was a Tuesday night with $2 Coronas, and I think they had some 3 Olives Vodka promotion going on as well!

Barry’s used to be known as Joyce’s Celtic Pub until a name name about 5 years ago.  It is basically the same bar as it was then, with the addition of a stage in the back.  This is a popular hangout for Duquesne University students in Pittsburgh, as it is within walking distance of the campus.

Stay tuned for the continued tour!