HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “hdr efex

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.

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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.