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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.