HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “hdr efex

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.


The baseball blues

There seem to be very few teams throughout the history of professional sports that have experienced the fall from grace the way that the Pirates have.  And I’m not just talking about missing the playoffs for a few years in a row, or not making it to the World Series.  There are teams with longer World Series droughts than the Buccos 32 years (Indians 63 years, Padres, Rockies, Astros, Rangers and a few others, never).  I’m talking about the fact that it has been nearly twenty longer years since the Pirates have won more games than they lost in a single year.  Nearly two decades since they have finished with a winning percentage above .500.  The closest they have come was in 1997, when they finished 79-83, a mere 2 games away.

There seemed to be a slight glimmer of hope this year, as they have hovered around the .500 mark for most of the year, and that’s where they were the night that I attended this game.  However, they got stomped 10-3 at the hands of the Dodgers, and then were shut out again last night.  The problem with the most recent Pirates teams is they have no star power, no game changers, no one who is really dangerous.  They have young players who show a lot of potential like Andrew McCutcheon, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but chances are they will not win you a World Series.  Pirate’s ownership has said that when fans start coming to games they will invest more money in the team.  Well that’s a catch 22, because if they don’t field a competitive team, you aren’t going to get many people to come to game.  While I am not a huge fan of the salary cap in other sports, I think it would be the only way (under the current management) for the Pirates to start winning again.

Anyways, on to today’s shot.  I have a bunch to post from the game, but I wanted to start off with this one.  The seats we had were pretty good, about ten rows off the first base line, which afforded me some great picture opportunities.  I took this one a little bit later in the game, when some clouds had rolled in and the blue hour was upon us.  PNC Park is a beautiful stadium, especially with the view of the Pittsburgh skyline in the distance, which is what I was trying to capture with this shot.

This is a 5 exposure handheld HDR that I processed in Photomatix.  I actually had originally taken 7 brackets, but the -3 and -2 exposures were a bit too dark, so I ended up using the -1 to +3 range.  I tonemapped the +2 exposure to mask in the entire crowd, as you can imagine no one was kind enough to sit still while I took these.  I also used the 0 EV exposure to mask in the players on the field and the coaches, as they were just shifting a tiny bit.  The last mask I added was over the scoreboard so it looked crisp and clear.  I added a curves layer for the blues and greens to help bring out the sky and the field respectively, and also added a Tonal Contrast and Pro Contrast filters in Color Efex.  Logo added, good to go.

More Buccos shots coming tomorrow.  Make sure you stick around.


Back into the fire

At least for today, we will be making a trip back to Carrie Furnace.  I know that I’ve been jumping around a lot lately, but I feel like sometimes I will go to process an image and think, “Eh, not really feeling this one today”.  Then I’ll see the exact same set of brackets a week later and say to myself “Why the hell haven’t I processed this yet?!?!”  Well, I’ve been doing that a lot lately, especially after my recent upgrade to Photomatix.  I’ve been going back to shots that I wasn’t crazy about the result out of HDR Efex that I now love out of Photomatix.  So because of this I’ve been all over the place lately.  Which I am fine with.  Gives you a bit of variety.

This first shot (and today’s official post) is the view of one of the, um, one of the, uhh, I have no idea really.  Maybe it’s one of the actual furnaces?  All I know it is looked pretty cool in person and even cooler in HDR.  Mike, aka Theaterwiz posted this same view a few weeks ago, check out his work if you have a chance, you won’t be disappointed.  One of the coolest things about Carrie Furnace was all the graffiti.  If really cut through all the rust and stuck out like a sore thumb, adding some pop to every scene.  The processing was fairly straightforward on this one.  It is a seven exposure HDR processed with Photomatix and given a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.  I like processing scenes like this sometimes because you don’t have to worry about dust spot removal, halos, etc; you can be a bit more over the top with it.

I wanted to share a bit of a different view as well, just slightly to the left of the first shot.  I decided to go B&W for this one, and I even mulled over the selective coloring.  I sometimes have a tendency to overdo that effect, so after processing it with HDR Efex I gave it a run through Silver Efex to see how it would turn out and ended up being pretty happy with the result.  Maybe I’ll start doing a bit more in B&W.

Ahh, Thursday.  Hope you all enjoy yours.


Seas of gold

So against every instinct I have in regards to professional football, this weekend I attended the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Blitz.  And you know what?  It ended up not being too bad.

Let me say this.  I didn’t always used to be so anti-Steeler; in fact, I even used to have a Steeler shirt.  I think it was something about former fullback Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala (yes, I 100% had to look up how to spell that).  But somewhere, somehow, I grew to utterly despise a few current and former Steeler players, and it really has just snowballed since then.  See, I am a Cowboys fan, and although we’ve had it rough the past couple years, this is the year we are turning it around.  Just wait.

Both of today’s shot are different views of Heinz Field from last Saturday.  One of the cool things about being down at the Fan Blitz was that you got to walk on the field.  They had drills and events for the kids and field goal kicking for everyone else.  I took the shot above right at the corner of the open end zone, looking towards the rest of the field.  I know that it is a little crooked, but I liked that you could see a father and son posing by the goal post, and if I straightened it, then it would have cropped out half their legs.  This is a five exposure handheld HDR that I processed with Photomatix.  I masked in the bottom third of the shot to correct all the ghosts as a result of the people moving.

Today’s official shot is a different view of the field.  I took this from the second level after one of the autograph sessions.  Oh yeah, I completely forgot to mention that.  While I was there, I took a 20×30 HDR of Heinz Field that I had shot last fall in for the former players to sign and ended up getting 13 autographs.  Pretty cool.  We also ate lunch with former linebacker Andy Russell, who said that in his first year in the league he made $12,000.  And now the players and owners are fighting of $9 billion.  Unreal.  Anyways, this is a nine shot panorama, with each shot being made up of a five exposure HDR, something that I hadn’t done before, at least not on this magnitude.  It ended up looking pretty much the way I wanted it, although try as I may I couldn’t get the bit of grey in the sky over the middle part of the stadium fixed.  Still happy with it.

That’s all for today folks.  See you tomorrow.


Colorfully optimistic

Well, tonight is the big game.  Game 7.  Pens-Bolts.  I’ll be there, losing my voice.  That’s all I’m going to say about that right now.  Though I just have a feeling…

A few more to round out the Allegheny College tour.  I’ll tell you what.  Meadville, the northwestern PA town where Allegheny is located, may not be much to look at it, but the actual college in the fall is just incredible.  I was actually a bit worried when I was going up to Allegheny to shoot this series that the trees wouldn’t have enough color on them for me to get the shots that I wanted.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Above is the administration building close to the center of campus, Bentley Hall.  I loved the way that the trees faded in color across the scene from green to red with just a hint of sunlight peaking in.

Next is one of the many colorful paths at on campus, this one right between the campus center and the library, which you can see off in the distance.  I was able to get to this location early enough in the day where the sun was still low in the sky, so half the path was in light and half in shadow.  The leafs laying on the hill next to the path added a nice element as well.

Finally, today’s shot.  This is Carr Hall, the math building on campus.  This is another one that I had originally passed up while processed this series with HDR Efex, but went back at it one more time with Photomatix.  I thought it that it was pretty cool how the sky seems to just continue around the building when you look at the reflection.  I normally don’t oversaturate colors like I did here, but for some reason I did, and I am happy with the result.

I’ve gotta feeling…that tonight’s gonna be a good night…


Going back to school

I was really hoping to post some Pittsburgh Penguin pictures today and tell all about how they clinched the series last night.  Instead, they came out hot but then fell flat for the remainder of the game, as the Lightning evened the series at 3.  Game 7 on Wednesday.  I’ll be there and will be very loud.  Let’s go Pens.

Now, I’ve loved processing and sharing all the pictures of Carrie Furnace with all of you, but I thought that it was time for a bit more color on my flickr stream and my blog.  Like I said yesterday, I’ve been tinkering around with Photomatix 4 and am pleasantly surprised with some of the results that I am getting.  I went back through a set of shots that I took on a photowalk at my alma mater, Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, last fall, and I think that Photomatix really does them justice.  It was right in the middle of fall, when the campus looks really beautiful.  The above shot was my post today on flickr of the Tippie Alumni Center, a new building in the last five years or so.  This particular building as really made its rounds at the school, as it once had a bowling alley in the basement, was the post office, the English department and now the Alumni Center.  This is the rear view from the patio, where they host various events.

Above is a shot from a similar location (and will be today’s post on flickr), as you can see the Alumni Center on the right hand side of the shot.  This is walking towards the Campus Center, where they have a cafeteria, an auditorium, the activities office, mail, student government and some other various offices and departments.  This is another building that was redone in the last eight years or so, as they are trying to upgrade the campus.  On the left you see Alden, which houses the geology and computer science departments.  This shot was also processed with Photomatix.

One more view of the Tippie Alumni Center, this time from the front, just across the street.  This was my favorite shot that I took during my morning photowalk there and I have it hanging on my wall at home.

Finally, just a few steps from the last shot, we have Brooks Walk, which runs through the middle of campus and right up to Brooks Hall, which houses the girl dormitory as well as the buffet style cafeteria.  Brooks Walk plays host to concerts, Greek events, random campus activities, and for the few warm days that there are during the school year, it almost resembles a beach, with people throwing around Frisbees, girls sun tanning and all the laughing and happiness you would expect from a tropical getaway.  Except you’re in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Thanks for the visits everyone.


Outlawed

Little bit of a late post today, it’s been a crazy start to the week that’s for sure.  It’s always a little bit harder to get out of bed on the Monday following a nice long weekend.  I hope all of you who celebrated Easter yesterday had a nice day, at least the rain held off here for part of the day.  Today is warm and sunny, so maybe we are finally shaking the last bit of winter off.

A couple more shots from Carrie Furnace today on a quick blog and run post.  Above is from one of the control rooms there, though I can’t be 100% that that is what it is.  The graffiti tagged along the top of the locker like terminals is what really caught my eye.  For those of you with a keen enough eye you will see that this one has been processed with Photomatix 4.  I finally took the plunge and upgraded to 4 and will be using it alongside HDR Efex.  Not that I still don’t love HDR Efex, it’s just that it’s good to have as many tools in your toolbox as you can.

Next is one that was processed with HDR Efex from one of the many ladders that are around Carrie.  Again, I thought that the graffiti really stood out, more so as I have been looking through the pictures than I noticed when we were there.  You can really see the decay in this shot as well, as the rust and what little paint is left is really peeling away from the old cylinders.

Quick post today, more tomorrow.  Big game tonight, game 6 between the Pens and Lighting.  Pens win, they move on.  If not, game 7 on Wednesday.  Let’s hope for a win.

Let’s go Pens.


Chugging along

Big game tonight.  Pens vs. Lightning, Game 4.  Pens win, they go up 3-1 with a possible clincher at home on Saturday.  Would be nice to get these next two and have a nice little break until the next round.

Couples more shots from Carrie Furnace for you today, though one does not feature the actual blast furnace.  Above is a shot of one of the railroads that runs right next to Carrie, which is still in use.  I took this shot while we were pondering whether or not to trek into the abandoned warehouse or simply be happy with our pictures from afar.  For as many train tracks as there are in and around the city of Pittsburgh, I have only ever taken one other shot where I was near the tracks and none like this.  I know that this is a fairly common picture to take and now I can say I have mine.  Would have been pretty cool to see a train coming right at your though.  Snap the seven brackets then run like hell.  Maybe next time.

Today’s shot is from inside what looked to be some kind of pump room at Carrie.  The coolest thing about this room was the stairs in the back of the shot.  You can see water full to top of the stairs, meaning the entire basement was flooded and that is the top of the water level.  I was going to go over and get a closer shot of this, but there was some kind of green liquid dripping from the ceiling that I didn’t particularly want to get all over me.  Again, next time for sure.

Both of these were processed in HDR Efex under the “Crisp” Method.  For the train tracks shot I had to do a bit of masking above the tree line, as that particular HDR Method gives a slight halo.  Applied an overall S Curve to give it some more contrast and finally a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.  For the one of the pump room I applied the Tonal Contrast filter, then did some selective coloring to bring out the colors that I wanted, like the graffiti on the back wall.  I also maked in part of the -2 exposure to help recover some of the blown out highlights.

Let’s.  Go.  Pens.


Follow the rules

I was looking back through some of my recent posts over the weekend and saw that a few times a couple weeks ago I said that I was just going to do a quick post and run and ended up rambling on for a page or so.  Well, today is a true post and post, I’m still feeling a bit under the weather and have had a crazy start to the week already.  Is it Friday yet?  Still Monday.  Huh.  Well that’s no good.

More Carrie Furnace today.  I mean, you talk about a place made for HDR, look no further than the old blast furnace along with Mon River in Homestead.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never been to a place like that before that was so appealing to me, but every time I open up iPhoto to pick out some more picture to process I just keep seeing different angles that I want to shoot it from next time I am there.  Today we have a view shots from the same room (understatement of the day).  The first is a list of safety instructions that workers were to follow accompanied by a huge Steelers logo.  Now, It was a bit creepy looking at this area, because, as Kurt on my flickr page pointed out, at one point there was someone standing up on that staircase, giving instructions to the workers who were all looking up towards this sign.  Now…emptiness.  Kinda eerie.

The second shot is from the view of the of the person who would have been giving those instructions.  This shot is equally as eerie, because 30 years ago from this view we would have seen huge equipment, people running around working, smoke, heat…but again, now…emptiness.

Both of these shots were processed with HDR Efex under the “Crisp” Method, which is fast becoming one of my favorites.  For the one with the Steeler logo, I did selective coloring on the reds and blue to help the graffiti and the diamonds in the logo stand out.  There also was a hazy green color cast over the shot, so I did selective coloring to desaturate all the greens, since I didn’t really need them in the shot.  I also enhanced the blues and red in the second shot to make the tags on the wall stand out, as well as mask in the windows and the door opening on the far side of the building, since they were a bit blown out.

Speaking of blown out, that’s what happened to the Pens on Friday.  Let’s hope tonight yields a better result.  Let’s go Pens.


Eyes on the prize

Well it all begins tonight.  The 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs will open with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning at the CONSOL Energy Center.  It certainly has been a trying year for these Pens, but they have shown that they have what it takes to win under extreme adversity.  They have only had the combined services of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal for two games this season, with Staal missing the first half due to a broken hand/severed tendon in his foot and Sid and Geno missing more or less the entire second half of the season.  Yet these Pens have fought through rough stretches of poor powerplay performance, low goal totals and a host of other injuries to finish fourth in the conference and gain home ice advantage through at least the first round of the playoffs.

So what is it going to take to win?  The same things that they have been doing all year.  Solid penalty kill.  Team defense.  Brick wall goaltending.  And of course production from their role players, like Craig Adams, Max Talbot, Mike Rupp and others.  I like the Pens in this series in five games because of all these factors, but one thing I think that really sets up apart from the Lightning is our consistency.  We never really let the season get away from us, even with the loss our two biggest superstars.  Yes, we did lose five or six games in a row after Sid was out, but that can be expected when you lose the main focus of your offense.

The Pens are also very versatile while I believe that Lightning are much more one dimensional.  They want to get the puck to Stamkos, St. Louis or Lecavalier and let them shoot.  They rely too heavily on the powerplay and if they aren’t getting the opportunities, then they won’t be effective.  The Pens have scorers on every line and guys that bring a high level of energy to team like Talbot, pictured above.  I took this during a game back in February, and it’s always fun to photograph Talbot, as he seems to always be looking into the camera.  He’s a guy who can win you the faceoff, kill a penalty, and then find himself alone in the middle of the ice for a breakaway.  Max went through a bit of a dry spell early in the year, but the intangibles he brings to the team in the absence of their captain is immeasurable.

Today’s shot is one I took at the last game I was at which was the last regular season home game.  We were in a suite above the single attack zone, which is a great view to watch the game from.  I took this HDR during the national anthem, as you can see by the stars and stripes on the ice.  This is a five exposure JPEG HDR that I processed with HDR Efex under the “Clean” method.  Since the players and scoreboard were both moving, I took the +2 exposure (for the players) and the -2 exposure (for the scoreboard), tonemapped both of those under the Clean method and masked in the respective shots of the picture to give it a crisp look.  I also added a Pro Contrast filter in HDR Efex to give the shot a bit more pop.  As a note, that is also Max Talbot on the video screen here as well.

At the time I am finishing this, 11 hours and 39 minutes until puck drop.

LET’S GO PENS.


Heating up

Well, I’m finally back after a very long weekend.  Well, it wasn’t so much a long weekend, I didn’t have any extra days off, but I have been away from the blog for a few days.  I’ve fallen into a habit of taking Fridays off from blogging, which I think will end this week, and for some reason I didn’t post yesterday.  Can’t really give you  a great reason.  But, I am back at it today.

Had a great weekend in terms of photography.  Actually I had a great weekend overall.  Got to see a couple sets of good friends, both sides of the family for a nice dinner on Sunday as well as spent most of Saturday shooting with friend and fellow HDR photog Mike Criswell, aka Theaterwiz.  Wiz came in from Ohio to spend the gloomy day in the Burgh getting some good brackets.  We made stops at PPG Place, the North Shore and PNC Park, as well as Heinz Field.  After a quick bite and a few pints at Hard Rock we headed up the river to Homestead in search of a location that he saw on flickr, Carrie Furnace.

Carrie Furnace was a blast furnace that operated from 1884 until 1982, and in its heyday was producing between 1,000 and 1,250 tons of iron per day.  It is located just across and up the river from the Waterfront in Homestead, and talks are still in the works to develop it into some form of museum, as it is now designated a historic landmark (thank you Wikipedia).

Let me say this.  For thinking about being turned into a museum, they is a lot that needs to happen to even get to the place.  The direct access road is closed and fenced off, and the only way to get there is over the hill and through the fence, to Carrie Blast Furnace we go…um, sorry.  Anyways, so over the next few days I’ll be posting various shots of the inside and out of Carrie Furnace and the surrounding area.  It’s an awesome place to go, and I will definitely be making a return trip at some point to get some more shots.  Maybe this weekend.  Who knows.

The two shots above were taken from the railroad tracks that run parallel to Carrie Furnace while we were trying to figure out the best way to get in.  It was already a fairly gloomy day, which really helped to add to the mood surrounding this decaying landmark.  The second one above was actually taken with the 70-200 2.8, the first HDR that I’ve taken with it, well, at least the first bracketed and not faux HDR.

For today’s post we will actually take a look inside at one of the main hallways that runs through the building.  It was difficult to figure out where to shoot, as there was so much going on, so many cool angles, and just not enough time to get all the shots I wanted (hence the reason to go back).  I liked this angle, because it had a bit of graffiti on the left that really stood out against all the other rust and metal and there is so much to see everywhere here.

On to the processing.  This is a 7 exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Clean” setting (ironic?).  Over in Photoshop I masked in part of the -3 exposure so that I could recover a bit of the blown out highlights in the back of the shot.  I destaurated the reds, as they were a bit overwhelming and added a blue curves layer to bring out some of the writing on the wall.  Overall S curve added for added contrast and finally a Tonal Contrast Filter as well as some high pass sharpening.

More of these to come, so stick around.


Rollin’ into the weekend

It doesn’t get much better than Friday.  Pens hockey on tonight and Sunday, casual day at work, finally getting at least a one day break in the weather to spend some time shooting tomorrow, it’s going to be a good weekend.  Going to be a bit of a post and run catch up day, as I am finishing up all the month end activities that I started on Monday at work today.

First off my shot from a few days ago which I took two weeks ago whilst roaming the South Side.  Like I said before, that day just seemed to bring all the interesting people out of the woodwork, and I was more than happy to oblige by taking pictures of them.  As I’m walking down East Carson Street, the road that runs right through the middle of the South Side, I came up to the Birmingham Bridge, which crosses the Monongahela River over to Fifth Avenue.  Now this is a pretty busy intersection, as it is one of the main ways from getting from downtown Pittsburgh to the South Side, and this day was no different.  Then, out of the blue (well, more like gray, it was pretty dreary out), I just see a head bobbing over the cars.  I take another look and there is this guy on a scooter with pink handle bars and pink wheels.  Now, this would have be strange to see if he was, say 12, but he was at least 25.  He was singing to himself, looking around, completely oblivious that he was crossing the street in the middle of rush hour traffic with cars coming, who had to subsequently stop and wait for him.

The processing on this one was pretty light.  Desaturated the entire image, then enhanced just the greens and reds with layers of curves.  Added an over adjustment curve to boost the contrast as well as a Tonal Contrast layer.  Finally added a warming filter to give a bit of a cinematic tone, put it in a pill box and then on display for you.

Today’s shot, which I will be posting a little later, is from a photowalk I went on with Brad Truxell before the holidays.  It was such a frigid cold night, and this was one of the last shots I took before the blood in my fingers froze solid.  This is a view down the parkway from just off the Clemente Bridge.  On the right, you can see PNC Park and Heinz Field in the distance.  What I didn’t realize I’d captured until I got home was the smoke coming out of the top of the building on the left, which I thought looked pretty cool.

I was going for a little bit different processing here, a bit more extreme than normal.  Since the sky was such a deep blue, I was trying to get the tones on the road and the city to contrast it and I liked the way it turned out with almost a diagonal line of color separating the two.  And of course you can’t go wrong with reflections.  This is a 7 exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Clean” method.  I had to do some heavy selective coloring adjustments to get the look I was going for.  I also added a Pro Contrast filter in Color Efex.

Wishing you all a great weekend, see you on Monday.


Focused

What a great way to close out the regular season at home last night at CONSOL Energy Center for the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Pens put up four goals on former Penguin netminder and current New Jersey backup goalie Johan “The Moose” Hedberg to move one step closer to clinching home ice for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The start of the game was a little shaky, as the Pens were trying to break the 1-3-1 trap that the Devils play, but once they got in the groove, they owned the ice, picking up goals Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz on a great feed by Tyler Kennedy and two from Pascal Dupuis, one being an empty netter with time expiring in the game during a Devils powerplay.

There is something magical about playoff sports, well at least for playoff hockey.  I’ve never been to a Pittsburgh Pirates playoff game and only one Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game when I was younger, so playoff hockey is really the only playoff action I know.  Don’t get me wrong, the regular is awesome, especially against rivals like the Flyers and Capitals.  But everyone just seems to cheer a little bit louder, the players skate harder, and there is just a buzz that resonates throughout the entire building. 

Players saluting the fans after the game

Very few times will you see someone sitting back in their seat, casually watching the action.  No, everyone is hanging on the edge, just waiting for that big goal to be scored by a superstar like Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal, a talented young star like Mark Letestu or Chris Conner, or a grinding role player who is ever so important to the team like Craig Adams (pictured in the first shot above) or Max Talbot.  Playoff hockey is about watching Marc Andre Fleury make an unbelievable save to bail out a defenseman and keep the game close or seeing Brooks Orpik or Deryk Engelland flatten someone into the boards so hard you need a spatula to get them off.  I can’t wait.

Today’s shot keeps with the theme of the post as it is the exterior of CONSOL Energy Center.  While the new home of the Pens doesn’t quite have the character of the old Civic Arena, it still as its own mystique, especially early in the morning with the sun rising.  I took this one a few months back during an early morning photowalk around downtown Pittsburgh.  This is the lower gate of the arena, the American Eagle Gate, located on 5th Avenue.  I thought that it was so cool how you can see reflections on the left side of the glass on the building, but in the front you can actually see right through into the stairwell that ascends to the seating level.

This is a nine exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Clean” HDR method.  After fixing some of the dust spot, I masked in the entire blue sky, because I wanted it to be rich and contrast nicely with the warm look of the building.  I also added blue and red layer curve adjustments to bring out some contrast in the sky and building, and a slight selective coloring layer to enhance the sun.  Finally I added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and sent it off the blog.

Thanks to everyone who stops by, see y’all tomorrow.


Seems like so long ago

Living in Pennsylvania and only a few hours from Punxsutawney, home of the famous groundhog Phil and “back drop” for one of the top 5 most boring movies of all time (the real town used in the film was Woodstock, IL), a lot is made of Groundhog Day.  This year Phil got everyone all excited that spring would be coming early this year, however it looks like he attended the same meteorological school as the rest of the weatherman in Pittsburgh, because it has been far from an early spring.  We had snow last weekend and were supposed to get more today and tomorrow, however the temperature inched just above freezing so we have nothing but rain.

It seems like last summer was so long ago in a whole other world after the past six months of weather.  We’ve had huge snow storms, torrential down pours, one nice day followed by a week of clouds.  I’ve found myself looking back on the pictures that I took in July and August last year, spending time on a friend’s boat, having a few beers and trying my hand (somewhat) successfully at wakeboarding.  There is something about being out in the middle of the Ohio River, with the city out of sight around the bends and corners that is just so relaxing.  The above shot is from one of those days, when I was waiting for some friends to show up and I was just sitting on the dock, listening to the breeze rustle the leaves, not even thinking about winter.  I can’t wait for those days to be back!

I will be posting both of the shots you see here on flickr today, but since it is still pouring down rain this morning I figured I would start with this one.  This is one that I took a few weeks ago at a bar in downtown Pittsburgh before the Elton John concert on a night that we were seeing golf ball size hail.  I actually saw a woman come into the bar with a bruised knuckle because she was hit with a falling missile, crazy.  Pretty simple processing on this shot from my S95; increased both the contrast and saturation, as well as added a Contrast Only filter in Color Efex.  In iPhoto I also increased the definition, just to give it some extra pop.

Last Pens home game tonight.  Let’s make it two in a row against the Devils at home.


Yeah, you too

Just going to be doing a quick post and run today.  It is our monthly financial close and work, and this impacts me since my current title is senior financial analyst.  Bit busy at the quarter end, but back in the swing of things tomorrow (hopefully).

Don’t you wish sometimes you could just tell off something that you couldn’t possibly tell off?  Like a Monday?  Or maybe the toaster that burned your bagel?  Or the pen that ran out of ink just as you sat down for a meeting?  Or a Monday?  Whoops, already said that one.  Well, this one is dedicated to all those things in life, though I’m pretty sure that if this girl wanted to tell me off she could.  I was on a photowalk with a buddy Ty Sharp and we were shooting some Pittsburgh cityscapes from atop a garage in downtown.  All of a sudden a bus lets out and all these people start walking across the street, some boring, some interesting, some ignoring us and some pointing and waving.  Or flipping us the bird.  These girls spotted us and while most of them seemed nice and friendly, one, um, wasn’t so much.  She subtly expressed her displeasure by flicking us off from five stories away.  I believe that this is the first time that I have ever been caught shooting a candid, and the complete range of reactions is present here, from a jovial hello to a rude middle finger.

Processing was light here, just a quick white balance adjustment, desaturation and Tonal Contrast filter.  Added the pill box for the cinematic effect.

Just to get you all caught up, above is my post from last night.  This is a shot of one of the buildings on the North Shore of Pittsburgh, right next to PNC Park.  I took this one during a photowalk with Brad Truxell, as he had shot it before, and I knew that it was a perfect candidate for HDR.  It is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting.  Added a blue curves layer to bring out the glass and a red one to bring out the lobby.  I masked in the little piece of the sky, as well as added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.

Sorry again for the post and run, catch you guys tomorrow.


New horizons

First off I just wanted to thank everyone who gave their input on flickr and Explore in my post yesterday.  I really enjoyed the feedback and hearing some different views on it.

Yesterday’s post was a bit long in verbiage so today I’ll give you a break and make it a bit longer but in pictures.  Every so often I like to put up a whole series of action shots that I took before the Pens games and today is just one of those days.  Originally I was thinking about doing this for today’s post because I thought that we would have pulled out a great win last night against our hated in state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers and pull even with them for the division lead.  The Pens were looking great to, all over the ice, help two one goal leads, but the Flyers proved the luckier of the two teams last night, with pucks bouncing over, around and under Marc Andre Fleury for a 5-2 win by the men in orange.

So where does that leave the Pens?  Probably in fourth place at the end of the season, which means that we will have guaranteed home ice advantage, at least for the first round and that our like opponent will be Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.  I like this matchup for Pittsburgh, as the Pens are a much deeper team than the lighting with a lot more playoff experience.  However, anything can happen at any time in the playoffs.

On to the shots.  The first one above is Mike Rupp, and I thought that this one was appropriate to start off with as it was one of the first pictures I took from last Friday’s game.  All the images you see here today are from that contest between the New Jersey Devils and the Pens, which the Pens won in a 1-0 thrilling shootout victory.  I was able to capture this one right as Rupp skated on the ice, and I was lucky enough to get the spot light right on top of him, which has never happened before.

Next up is winger James Neal, one of the players taking the Pens to the new horizon.  He came over from the Dallas Stars along with Matt Niskanen back at the trade deadline for Alex Goligoski.  Neal is a hardnosed, physical player who has a lethal wrist shot.  He’s got speed and puck handling ability and was a very valuable add to the roster this year.

Above is Ben Lovejoy, a right handed shooting defenseman who has certainly made his mark in the NHL this year.  Lovejoy is a shutdown d-man who has a decent shot too, and always willing to jump into the offensive play.  I’m posting this more for the funny expression on his face than anything else.

Here we have Mike Comrie, another new Penguin this year.  He was signed as a free agent, and although he has missed most of this season due to hip surgery, has put up 30 goal seasons in his past.  I happened to catch him right as he was spitting in warm ups, which made for an interesting shot.

Taking a shot during warm ups is winger Pascal Dupuis.  Dupuis is a high energy player, very quick, always flying around the ice.  He gets a minute here or there on the penalty kill, but strength other than his speed is his killer slap shot.  He may not be able to maneuver around you, but he can definitely rip it past you.

Last but certainly not least is a name that is near and dear to many people in Pittsburgh and that is Alexei Kovalev (right in the above shot), or Kovy.  Kovy is on his second tour with the Pens, reacquired at the trade deadline this year for a conditional 6th round pick from the Ottawa Senators.  Though he has only put up two goals (and two more in the shootout), Kovalev can still wheel and deal the puck with the best of them.  The game is certainly faster than the last time he played for Pittsburgh and was in his prime, but it’s still so much fun to watch him play.  He showed off some of that stick handling ability in the bottom shot here, where he bounced the puck on his stick from the red goal line all the way to center ice.  Just awesome.

Today’s shot is a view from our new office building that my company moved into on Monday.  We have a great view of the sunrise, which is much better than the view we had before, which was none, as we were smack in the middle of our last building with no windows at all.  I know you can see the reflections of the lights in the window, but I just wasn’t able to clone them out.  If you look directly to the right on the bottom part of the reflection, you can see the moon as well.

This was a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting.  No masking in this one, just adjusted overall curves and then added a green curves adjusted layer to enhance the grass.  Cloned out a few dust spots, increased overall saturation and finally added a Tonal Contrast filter to everything but the sky.

Well, that ended up being longer than yesterday.  I’ll try to keep it shorter tomorrow.


It’s criminal

I know that a few posts ago I had a little rant about flickr in general and just touched on Explore quickly.  I haven’t been checking Explore that much in the past year or so because of how frustrating some of the pictures I have seen on there have been.  Yesterday I hit a bit of a breaking point though and just wanted to share some thoughts, get some opinions from some of you and maybe vent a little.

For those of you who are not familiar with Explore I’ll give you a quick overview.  Explore is a collection of the top 500 pictures on any given day on flickr, judged by the flickr “interestingness”.  Things that influence (or at least used to influence) getting into Explore were views, comments and faves in a short amount of time, not being in too many groups and not having all kinds of flashy rewards.  Certain groups were also said to hurt or aid hitting Explore.  Then in August of 2009 there was a monumental change to the algorithm that would ban certain users from getting on Explore.  Apparently some folks even got messages from flickr saying that they had been “blacklisted” and other people “needed a chance” to get on Explore.  While I never got that message, I haven’t had a photograph on Explore since then, and I used to hit it every day or so.

Now, I have a few problems with this.  First, if Explore is supposed to be the most interesting, the cream of the crop on flickr, how can you purposefully ban photographers who you previously deemed to have the most interesting photos on flickr?  It doesn’t make sense that everyone doesn’t get a fair shake at it.  Second, and this is a more philosophical question, why are the editors of flickr deciding what is “interesting”?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to get feedback from the flickr community (since flickr is a social network) to give a better overall representation of what people in flickrland find attractive in photography?  I know that everyone has different tastes (and that’s what makes photography great) and it would make sense to incorporate that into the Explore area. 

This leads into my third and, in my opinion, most important point.  Let me first say that while I used to get annoyed that I was not hitting Explore anymore, I am completely over it.  I have made some great contacts and friends on flickr that mean much more to me that having my picture be #247 in Explore.  What I find completely ridiculous are some of the pictures that are currently on Explore.  To call them interesting or some of the best is almost an embarrassment.  I have five pictures as quick examples, and although I will not be posting them on here because they all are “All Rights Reserved” images, I will post the link to them.

  • First off is Explore #4 for yesterday, March 28th.  It’s a picture of someone’s retirement cake at work.  Panda bear with green cupcakes taken with an iPhone.
  • Next is a Front Page Explore of a rock holding a sign in different positions.  Ok, fine, maybe it is remotely creative, but to be on the Front Page to say it is one of the most interesting pictures on flickr?  Really??
  • The next one is a picture of someone’s vintage cameras and their camera bag.  The cameras may be interesting if you are actually using them, but a picture of them?  And to be #4 on Explore?
  • Next up is a group shot of people in a Lightroom workshop.  Again, Front Page.  Really embarrassing.
  • Finally we have a Front Page from today that combines three pictures of someone’s eyes in a green glow.  How is this interesting?

Again, I am not saying that these are not ok shots.  Everyone has their own style and I can certainly respect that.  What I have a slight problem with is these shots being paraded as some of the best on flickr.  What I am not saying that these people are poor photographers.  I did take the time to look through all of their streams and they all have some work that I like and am interested in.  I’m also not saying that the shots above are bad shots…just curious as to why they made Explore and myself and others have not seen it for over a year and a half.  Don’t get me wrong, there are TONS of great pictures on Explore; incredible landscapes, dramatic portraits, breathtaking views and so on.  Those certainly deserve to be up there.  It’s shots like the above ones that just have me scratching my head.

I know this has been a long post, so I’ll make this quick.  Both shots from today’s post are from the Times Square Police Station in New York City.  I didn’t get a chance to photograph it the last time we were there and didn’t want to miss the opportunity again.  Both were processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting.  I had to do a fair bit of masking in both of them to get rid of the people and then added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.

Big game tonight for the Pens against the Flyers.  We got this.


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.


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.


Having the winter blues

I don’t want to scare anyone with the title, I’m not really sad.  Well, just sad that I’m in rainy Pittsburgh right now instead of sunny Jamaica.  There’s a saying “No one needs a vacation like the man who just got back from one” and I could not agree with that more.  Even though I didn’t just get back from vacation I had a day off on Friday, and coming back to work can be so difficult after a long weekend.

I will probably be wrapping up the Jamaican pictures sometime this week, but today I wanted to post a few shots that focused on the actual beach.  It was so incredible to just sit and lounge around in the sand all day, as it was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.  The sand was golden and soft and not so hot that you couldn’t walk on it, the water was crisp and clear for a vibrant shade of aqua and the sky was just a shining blue all the time (well, except for the one hour it rained).  Usually you are lucky enough to get one of these beach attributes, but the fact that Jamaica had all three was perfect.

What made it even more picturesque were the banks of clouds that would continually roll through during the day.  Don’t get me wrong, there is little that I like more on vacation than a clear blue sky, because at least then you know it’s not going to rain.  But it was kind of just the icing on the cake that made Couples Sans Souci the most relaxing place we have ever been.  I think it is the only place where we have said that we may go back one day; we usually like to vacation in different cities and countries, to make sure we experience as much as we can.  But Jamaica sure had a compelling argument to lure us back.

From the warm beaches of Jamaica to the cold highways of Pittsburgh.  This is one of the last few shots from my early morning photowalk back in February.  What I’ve come to realize is, that I REALLY need to get out shooting soon.  I mean, I have a ton of shots in my archive, but I’m not thrilled with all of them.  Maybe I need to create a second flickr stream so that I can most my not-top-quality work.  Because let’s face it.  Not every picture you take is going to be your best, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to display it.  We’ll see.  Anyways, this is a view down the parkway along the Allegheny River.  You can see PNC Park on the right, as well as Heinz Field in the distance, as well as the moon, which I just have a terrible time with.

For the processing, this is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Subtle” method.  I ended up masking in the whole sky, but instead of using the exposure that had the trees frozen, I used the +1 exposure to give them that waving feeling.  I also had to do some work on the reds, as the street lamps were really glaring through the shot on the left had side of the scene.  Boosted the yellow on the railing that serves as the leading line, added a blue curves layer for the sky and water and applied a very slight Tonal Contrast filter to the entire image.

Check back tomorrow for a discussion on flickr.  Pete Talke of Places2Explore recently did a post on this and I felt inspired to do the same.


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.


Back on the wagon

Well, after a long weekend off from work and celebrating my little brother’s 21st birthday, I make a return to the blogging world.  It was a fun weekend but I certainly needed yesterday of just sitting on my couch watching basketball to help recover.  I think I’m starting to get a bit old.

As my Monday posts are typically a recap of my weekend uploads to flickr, I won’t stray too far from that path on this particular Monday.  I actually won’t stray from it at all.  Although one of my posts you have already seen on my blog (the panorama of our honeymoon resort), so I will not be posting that one.  You are more than welcome to check out that post though if you are in some need some warm weather.

We’ll start with Friday’s post.  This is one that I took a few months back at the end of November on a photowalk I did on Mt. Washington.  Now I have photographed the city from that location a couple dozen times, but this was definitely a sight that I had not seen in any of those previous visits.  I usually like to make the trip up there at night, as the Pittsburgh skyline from that high is just breathtaking.  However on this particular trip the sky at a certain rainbow quality to it that was just awesome (that’s “awesome” as in full of awe, not awesome like in Wayne’s World).  On Mt. Washington there are a handful of overlooks that stretch out from the main road that you can view the city from.  I was a bit farther down than normal, and I had a great view along the river of the main part of Pittsburgh.  Set up shot, bracketed and fired away.

Processed this one in HDR Efex under the “Subtle” method from 7 bracketed exposures.  I masked in the entire -3 exposure, as it had the best color for that I was going for.  Added a curves layer to enhance the red of the red and then a second blue layer to enhance the, well, blue.  Did some selective coloring on the top of the PPG Building (the shiny one with spires on top) to bring out the golden tones of the sunset reflecting off of it.  Finally, added a Tonal Contrast filter to the city as well as some high pass sharpening to the skyline.

Next up is another candid from our trip to New York in December of last year.  I was walking around early Friday morning and caught some iPhone photographers trying to capture the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.  I’m always intrigued by pictures of people taking pictures, so I thought I would give it a go.  I had dedicated this one on my flickr page to Kurt, aka Ian Sane, as he wrote me a very kind testimonial.  Kurt is a master of candids and street photography, and like I said on my flickr page, if you haven’t visited his work, check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.

Not too much to speak of processing wise here.  Lowered the overall saturation in Camera Raw and increased the saturation of the reds and greens.  Straightened the shot and applied a Tonal Contrast filter (very slight) and the pill box.  Voila.

Today’s upload brings us back to that early morning photowalk I went on a few weeks back.  Like I’ve said before, the one thing that I have not had much success capturing is the moon, and this is an example of that.  I was walking between two hotels new the Point in Pittsburgh and saw the moon glowing over Mt. Washington.  I set up the tripod and took the brackets, but wasn’t really happy with the result of the moon.  I did however like the overall scene, with the warm glow from the hotel restaurant, the pastel colors in the sky and the motion blur from the tree branches, as it was incredibly wind, so I thought I would process it anyways.

This is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” method.  I had a bit of a tough time with the white balance, as I was getting incandescent light from the hotel, halogen from the street lights and the natural light from the moon.  I had to do some heavy adjustments to the reds, as the whole shot was just too warm.  I also increased the saturation of the sky to help bring out the pastels.  I didn’t mask in the entire sky, because like I said, I really liked the motion blur from the trees, it gives to scene a sense of being there, in my opinion.  Added a very slight Tonal Contrast filter and call it a day.

Thanks for sticking with me through this  long post.  I’ll catch everyone 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.