HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “d40x

Igloo overload

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.

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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.


Reflections of the times

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.


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.


From Schenley Casino to Forbes Field to CONSOL Energy – A Tale of Pittsburgh’s Sports Arenas

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.

PNC Park

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.

Heinz Field

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.

Civic Arena

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.


Beach and bokeh

Well, today it is raining.  At least it was raining when I was on my way to work.  It was actually kind of weird, because we still have probably around five inches of snow on the ground, but it was absolutely pouring down rain.  There was a bit of ice, nothing to make the commute too bad.  I usually love winter, but this year has kind of been a pain.  It snows six inches one day, then gets up to 33 and it all melts.  Then it snows again two days later.  Then it gets warm again.  I can say that I am officially over winter and ready for spring.  To me winter has two parts.  The part leading up to Christmas and then the part where it snows (hopefully the two coincide).  I know that winter doesn’t technically start until December 22nd, but to me, everything after Thanksgiving is winter.  So now that Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, it’s time for some snow!  And some sustained snow!

I’ve titled this entry beach and bokeh, yet all I’ve done is talk about winter.  Sorry.  You know how you get off topic and start rambling?  And I’m not talking about just talking with someone.  Like when I had a conversation with a group of coworkers the other day, we started talking about an upcoming happy hour and then bachelor parties and then sushi and then German beer and it was like “How the hell did this happen?”  I’m not just talking about that.  I’m talking about when you’re sitting there at a red light waiting for it to change thinking about what to make for dinner when you get home.  Then you see someone walking their talk and think about that dog you had when you were little.  And how cute it was when she knocked over your Coke can at your birthday party when you were 8 all over your friend Tom.  And then, “Man, I wonder what Tom’s doing now?  I haven’t seen him in 15 years!” Then you start thinking about that girl that he used to date who was so annoying, she reminds you of a girl you work with who is equally as annoyi…oh wait, work, that’s right, I forgot to bring my laptop home to finish that presentation!  My boss is gonna kill me!  Hold on, the boss is still out of the office in Europe…then you think how you would love to vacation there, visit Italy, they probably have the best pasta in the world there!  PASTA!  That’s it.  Pasta for dinner.  While all of this was happening, you missed two green lights, almost drifted into the guy behind you and are getting strange looks by people walking by.

Look at me, rambling again.  How about some pictures?

It’s a two for one special today!  One is from our Jamaican honeymoon (beach) and one is from last Friday on a short photowalk (bokeh).  For the Jamaican one, I was trying to get a minimalistic feel to, with just the lone raft on the beach and the whole people in the distance in the water, one of them being my wife.  I took it mid trip there on the typically afternoon we had, stunning blue sky, a few wisps of clouds, and that sparkling water.  It actually did rain one afternoon, but this pretty much epitomized the weather!

I put more work into this shot than I was originally planning to.  It is just a single exposure that I tonemapped in HDR Efex.  I kicked it over to Color Efex where I added a Tonal Contrast layer to the sad and water and left the sky alone.  After that I added the Brilliance Filter from Color Efex to give it that warm glow.  I also added a Selective Color layer to boost some of the greens in the water as well as striaghtened the horizon.

This shot is a bit more straightforward.  It is a five exposure handheld HDR from Station Square in Pittsburgh.  I’ve been trying to do more DoF shots, and I think that this one turned out rather nice!  Processed the HDR in HDR Efex, added a Tonal Contrast filter and boosted the reds from the sunset!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, make sure you check out my HDR Efex Tutorial!

Enjoy your Tuesday everyone!


Tropical Escape

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a picture from Jamaica on my blog.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever posted a picture of Jamaica on here or even talked about it.  Well, either way, one is making an appearance today!  I thought that this was a great time since it was 14F this morning, and freezing rain is in the forecast for the next few days.  Awesomeness.  Can’t wait.  Anyhoo, how about a little warmth?  Just talking about it makes the cold a little less tolerable!

We made the trip to Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica for our honeymoon.  There were a few places on our list, like St. Thomas, the Bahamas, Aruba, but we settled on Jamaica just because we wanted a nice, relaxing time, and didn’t want to have to feel pressured to join in resort activities or do excursions.  Well let me tell you, it was an excellent choice!  It was eight days of sitting on the beach, drinking glass after glass of whisky and tequila, and the wife have pina coladas, mudslides, margaritas and every other fruity/nauseating drink you could think of.  Don’t be fooled by the nauseating part…I mean, I like a margarita just as much as the next guy, but after three or four of them in the hot sun, all that sugar sitting in your stomach, you’re just asking for a bad day!  I stuck with the good stuff and felt great!  I don’t want to go through our entire trip (could be the longest blog post ever if I did, but I will go in more detail in future posts), so on to today’s shot!

This is one I took on our last night there after we ate at the nice restaurant on the resort.  There was one helluva storm brewing out over the water, and I was able to capture decent lightning for the first time (see below).  The above shot was taken about twenty minutes after that.  It was really cool to see the glow of the beach bar and the different shades of green being reflected in the water.  Since there was a storm moving in (or at least around), there was a fair amount of wind, which caused all the motion blur on the branches.  I kind of liked the look, gives you a sense of being there!

Technically, this shot was a bit more of a pain than my last couple.  Since I didn’t take my D700 on vacation I just had my D40X, where the noise control is not nearly as good.  This is a 7 shot HDR, processed with HDR Efex and then kicked over the Color Efex.  I added a Tonal Contrat filter on the whole scene except the sky, then added an additional Tonal Contrast Filter on the water.  Did some Selective Coloring to brighten up the green at the back of the shot, and toned down the highlights since the beach bar was too bright.  Finally, did some noise reduction in Topaz Denoise, and there ya go!

Exciting news, I will be unveiling a new tutorial later today on HDR Efex!  Stay tuned to check it out!

Thanks for dropping by and have a great week everyone!


The Zoo!!!

So a few weeks ago we had a little work outing to the Pittsburgh Zoo.  Now, since I’ve been a kid, I think I have made it to the Zoo twice…and I’m talking twice in 15 years.  I guess the zoo isn’t a place that you need to regularly, but it’s still fun whenever you do make it!  We were lucky…most of the animals were out and about!  Hope you enjoy!


This was one of the first shots that I took of the day, ran it through a bit of HDR processing, and this is the result!  I loved how you can see him drinking.  It took him about 2 minutes to back into the pool of water, but once he got there, he definitely looked pretty comfortable!


I guess not every animal at the zoo is too keen on having their picture taken.  This gorilla was just laying there, and when I walked up, he seemed to spread his fingers so he could see me, then recovered his face and told me what he really thought of me!


No trip to the zoo is complete without a picture of the king!  He looked very content sitting up there.  Not sure if it was because he was relaxed because it was a beautiful day, or because he was thinking about how delicious we all would taste!

  This was probably the coolest sights of the day!  This polar bear kept doing belly flops into the water and playing with this spool like toy!  He would throw it up in the air and try to catch it!  Another shot is below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This mandarin was sitting really close to glass, watching the people as much as they were watching him.  The sign right next to him detailed how the brighter the colors on the mandarin, the more anxious. angry or exited they are.  He must have a lot of anger that is just boiling up inside!!!

These two antelopes were fighting each other over the affection of the a certain female who didn’t even appear to be interested in what was going on!  It was like she was saying “Whoever wins, that is the only way I will aknowledge you!”  As an FYI, the one on the left won!

Our last stop of the day was the shark tank.  At first I didn’t think I was going to get any shots at all, because there were no sharks to be seen!  All of a sudden, a shadow started moving towards me, and this guy gave me a perfect profile shot!  I know it’s a bit grainy, but the d40x is just ok in low light; the 35mm f1.8 lens helped, but the d700 I get in a few months will help even more!

Hope you enjoyed my trip through the zoo!!


Next stop: Jamaica!

So we finally did it.  Booked the honeymoon.  Well, actually it was last week, but I thought that since it has been nice the last couples days and I was in the mood for the beach I should act on it!  We are heading to Ocho Rios, Jamaica the second week of August, a few days after the wedding.  Having never been to Jamaica, we are both really excited.  We elected to stay at a smaller resort (Couples Sans Souci…anyone been there?) to kind of unwind after what is sure to be a hectic summer!  Our last real vacation was to Punta Cana in 2008.  I say real, because we went to NY for a long weekend last year, but it was really a vacation.  More of a getaway!  Anyways, below are some shots from Punta Cana.  I can’t wait to take pitctures in Jamaica!

Sun shining through in the morning

Palm tree silhouette

Colorful sunrise