HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “heinz field

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.

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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.


A little bit of everything

Back and blogging after what seemed like too short of a weekend.  Attended an ‘80s themed birthday party this weekend.  Let’s just saying that it was…interesting.  I did take a whole bunch of pictures, but I’m not sure I’ll be sharing them on here.  People have reputations that they probably want to protect.

Today is going to be somewhat of a catch up day on HDR Exposed, as Mondays usually are.  I have a variety of pictures you post, seeing that I unconsciously post more random pictures on the weekend that during the week.  Actually, I’m not sure if it has something to do with having more time on the weekend to take a look through my “For Flickr” folder than I have on my hard drive and pick out an interesting one, compared to the weekday, where I’m a bit more rushed and more or less just pick a random one from there.  The backlog of shots is getting a little low, so I may need to get out shooting sometime soon.  I’d like to do some street candids in Pittsburgh on a Friday or Saturday night, but I think that it is still a little too cold out for that.  We even got more snow yesterday.  I’m about ready for spring to come around, when we can leave the doors and the windows open and you don’t feel so cramped and stuffy in your own house.  Soon, very soon, spring is coming.

On to the shots.  The first shot is a candid that I took while we were in New York, on Friday morning during the AM rush hour.  Speaking of it being cold, it was absolutely FREEZING that morning, but I think at the time I took this shot my fingers hadn’t frozen yet.  I was getting ready to cross the street in front of Radio City Music Hall when I saw this lady crossing the street.  I captured her right when she was kind of making this goofy expression which just added to the shot.  The only thing I didn’t capture was a perfectly crisp shot.  Since it was so early and my first couple shots had been with a tripod, I hadn’t adjusted my ISO yet, so there was a little motion blur.  I touched that up with Topaz InFocus then ran it through my typical cinematic processing steps, or at least my version of it.  Decreased overall saturation, did a selective coloring adjustment on the red in her coat and the greens in the sign and bush.  Added a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex and the pillbox to finish it up.

Next is my post from yesterday.  This is another early morning shot, except this one is from the Steel City (Pittsburgh, just in case) a few Saturdays ago.  Equally as cold but with the element of wind too.  Fun stuff.  Took this one soon after I arrived downtown, and my initial plan was the head over the Clemente Bridge.  Well, I made it about this far, took the shot, then turned around, because the wind was really whipping across the water.  So I took my seven bracketed shots and moved on.  This is a view from the Clemente Bridge looking down the Allegheny River towards the Rachel Carson Bridge and Convention Center, which you can just see the first light of day starting to come up behind.

For the processing, pretty standard to all the rest of the shots in this series.  A seven shot HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Natural” method.  Adjusted sliders accordingly, then kicked it over the Photoshop and Color Efex.  I masked in the enter sky of the -2 exposure, with some minor adjusting to the original shot.  Desaturated the reds in the roads and from the lamps, as the D700 has a bit of problem sometimes with white balance.  Masked out a corner of a piece of the bridge in the upper left and finally added a Low Key filter to the entire shot from Color Efex.

On to today’s shot, which I will be posting a little later today on flickr.  This is a panorama that I took last Wednesday on the far end of Mt. Washington in the late afternoon.  I had some time to kill before heading to friend’s for the Penguin game.  I had actually seen this exact shot, as someone in my office had it hanging in their office, so I think I would give it a try.  I would have liked to do the panorama with my 70-200 zoom, but all I had was the 16-35 with me, so I took it at 35mm.  On the right you can see the Point and the city of Pittsburgh and how high the water is.  We got a lot of rain early last week, which caused all three rivers to rise, shutting down parking lots and some areas of the North Shore and the Point.  I really like this vantage point too, because you can see the Monongahela River on the right, the Allegheny on the left, and where they converge to form the Ohio.  Pretty cool stuff.  On the left you can see Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On to the processing.  This is a panorama of three 5 exposure HDRs, stitched together in CS5.  The HDRs were created under in HDR Efex under the “Subtle” HDR method, as I didn’t want to go too heavy handed on the HDR since I was making a panorama.  I didn’t like the way the sky looked, so I masked in the entire sky on all three HDRs.  Adjusted the yellows of the bridges and Heinz Field to make them stand out and desaturated the browns of the lifeless trees to make them not to distracting.  Lastly I corrected the skyline and gave the overall shot some definition in iPhoto.

Whew.  I’m exhausted.  But today you got a little bit of everything, candids, regular HDRs and panorama HDRs.  What more could you want?


Down by the river

A few days ago I did a write up on all the sports arenas in Pittsburgh, both past and present.  Well, maybe not all of them, but all of the significant ones.  Yesterday there was some pretty big news in Pittsburgh around perhaps the most iconic one, Mellon Arena.  As we know, the Penguins moved out of the Igloo this season and across the street into the new CONSOL Energy Center.  The decision was made last October to have the old Civic Arena torn down, and a new development put in, with shops, apartments, etc.  It was going to be designed to help reconnect the city to the Hill District, as the home of Penguins had separated the two for nearly fifty years.  The demolition was scheduled for early 2011.

But here we are early March 2011 and the arena is still standing, as we saw in my upload from a few days back.  That’s because right after the decision to implode the arena was made, historical organizations began fighting for the preservation of the building, claiming that it was a cultural landmark and should be saved.  My two cents on the whole issue is this.  It is an old building.  Inside?  Pretty ugly.  Cool, but ugly.  It’s small, cramped, and not a whole lot to use it for.  Besides, even if they did want to use it for concerts, shows and the like, why would anyone want to perform in a fifty year old building when they can perform at a less than one year old building across the street?  I’m not even taking into consideration what it would take to keep the Civic Arena operational and safe for patrons, but I have to imagine it would be astronomical.

My opinions aside, the historical societies were dealt a blow yesterday, when the Pittsburgh Historic Review panel denied the Civic Arena’s status as a city historic structure.  Although the preservations will eventually take the battle to the city council, which will have the final say, it is not looking too good for the world’s first retractable domed stadium.

On to today’s shots.  Well, technically I only have one shot to post to flickr, but I was up on Mt. Washington shooting and killing time yesterday, and got a pretty cool tilt shift with Canon S95 that I wanted to share first.  I haven’t processed a tilt shift in Photoshop for a while, but I may see what I can dig up.  For now though, I am pretty happy with the effect provided by the S95.

Today’s official shot it another one from a few Saturdays ago.  After I made my way across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, the moon was still just above the horizon.  All the tones seemed to blend together so nicely, even the reds and the blues.  There was a perfect gradient in the sky that matched the color of the building, and the blue right along top of the sky even seemed to match the water.  I set up the tripod, took the bracket of seven shots, and made my way towards PNC Park.

Processed this one pretty similar to the other ones in the set.  The bracketed shots were put through HDR Efex using the HDR Method “Soft”.  I masked in the -3 exposure, to make sure that I got that rich color gradient fading from red to blue.  I added a blue curves layer to enhance the upper park of the sky and also masked in the light post you see on the right as it was just a little blown out.  Added a Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex and High Pass Sharpening, as usual.  Finally, adjusted the overall curves of the scene to give it a bit more contrast, saved and uploaded.

Ahhh, can you smell that?  Friday is in the air.  Enjoy your day guys.


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

I thought that it would only be fitting that I post a picture of the two hockey arenas in Pittsburgh since I posted the football and baseball stadiums the last couple days.  The city of Pittsburgh truly has been blessed with some incredible sports venues, and both of these are no exception.  I did a write up on Mellon Arena, the old home of the Penguins a view months back, when I was blogging every month and a half or so.  I wanted to take some time and talk about the sporting arena in general, especially those in Pittsburgh.

Now, we haven’t always had the good fortune of having three of the best venues to watch professional sports in the country.  It all started back in 1895 with the Schenley Park Casino, which was Pittsburgh’s first multi use arena, and the first arena in the country to have an artificial ice surface.  It was destroyed in 1896 by a gas explosion.  That was succeeded by the Duquesne Gardens, which played host to a variety of sports teams, but mainly the Pittsburgh Pirates (who became known later as the Penguins…totally different from the baseball team, as the baseball Pirates have been around since the late 1800’s).  Duquesne Gardens was the first arena to actually have glass above the dasher boards, developed by (you guessed it) Pittsburgh Plate Glass (ok, so maybe if you weren’t from Pittsburgh you didn’t guess it).  It stayed open from 1899 until 1956, when it was destroyed as the city was beginning construction on the new Civic Arena (more on this in a bit).  But that was strictly for basketball and hockey.  The Pirates (baseball) needed a home too.  They first played at Exposition Park, which was located not too far from the current location of PNC Park along Pittsburgh’s North Shore.  They played their home games there for almost 20 years, from 1890 until 1909, when they moved to the famous Forbes Field.  Here they would share the stadium with the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers until 1970. 

However parts of the field still remain around Pittsburgh today.  You can see the left field wall over which Bill Mazeroski hit his legendary home run to beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, as well as a statue of Maz outside of PNC Park (pictured above).  You can also find the home plate from Forbes Field in Posvar Hall at the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, very near its exact location in the park, and the outline of the outfield wall still remains.  Two separate fires sadly forced the demolition of this historic venue in 1971, being replaced by Three Rivers Stadium.

PNC Park

Three Rivers, aptly named for being where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio near the Point in Pittsburgh, played home for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers for three decades.  It was built in the era of “cookie cutter” stadiums, very drab on the outside, and not much better on the interior.  In fact, for baseball games, they had to tarp off sections of the seats directly behind center field, as it would interfere with the batters’ ability to pick up the ball from the hand of the pitcher (newer stadiums simply do not have seats there, including PNC Park).  The park could be reconfigured to suit both football and baseball, but by the early 1990s, talks had begun to get the Pirates their own stadium and remodel the existing Three Rivers to be strictly a football venue.  In July 1999, over $800 million worth of funding was approved for both Heinz Field (pictured above) and PNC Park (pictured below), and ground was broken to begin construction in 1999, with both teams enjoying their new homes for the 2001 seasons.  I’ve only ever seen one game in Heinz Field (and it was a hockey game, the Winter Classic), but it is one of the most unique football stadiums in the country, with the open end giving spectators a view of the city of Pittsburgh and the Point.  PNC Park is consistently voted the most beautiful baseball park in the country, again having one whole side of the park open and being able to see the entire city skyline.

Heinz Field

As for the Civic Arena (pictured below), home of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1966 until 2010, I won’t go into a lot of details since I’ve written about it before.  Feel free to check out that post.  I will mention that it was the first domed sporting venue that had a retractable roof, though it has not been functional for over a decade.  One interesting fact is that when it opened it contained only 12,508, just eight seats over the minimum NHL requirement for capacity.

Civic Arena

In August of 2010, the CONSOL Energy, pictured above, opened and it makes the Civic Arena look like something from ancient Rome.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the “Igloo” as the Civic Arena was nicknamed, there is something about old sporting venues that you just have to appreciate.  But CONSOL is the new model that arenas will be built around in the future.

I took the last shot, which is today’s upload, on my photowalk last Saturday morning.  I did the best I could to include all both the Civic Arena and CONSOL in the photo, but this is literally as far back as I could stand, as there was a fence and a steep fill behind me.  This is a side of the building that I’ve captured before, though you weren’t able to see the Igloo in the background.  For the processing, this is a seven exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the Clean HDR Method.  Masked in the entire sky as well as the flags, as it was really windy on this particular morning and I had crazy ghosting effects.  Overall desaturation and then added a blue curves layer for the sky, as well as a Tonal Contrast Filter from Color Efex, then finished it off the with a High Pass Sharpening filter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk down Pittsburgh sports arena memory lane.  Catch you tomorrow.


In different directions

There’s something about Monday morning that just feels so wrong, especially on days when there is a torrential rain/thunderstorm going on outside.  Especially after a weekend where it was starting to warm up, got a chance to relax, the sun was out.  Ugh.  That’s all I can say about that.

Today I’m going to fall into the category of typical photoblog as I have some catching up to do in regards to pictures that I’ve posted on my flickr photostream.  Since I like to walk through how I do my processing, and with three pictures that I spent a decent about of time on, I want to make sure that I cover everything.  In conjunction with that thought, I will be putting together a Photoshop Effects Tutorial Page where I go through some of the most common processes that I do, like High Pass Sharpening, the Orton Effect, to name a few.  Yes, some of them are pretty simple, but when I was first figuring out what the heck I was doing when it came to Photoshop, I always had a ton of browser windows open because no one website seemed to have them.  I’m not saying that mine will either, however, it will give you a place to go to if I say I used a certain effect in my processing, you can jump to that page and see how it was done.  I’m hoping to have it up by next week.

So on to some shots.  No not that kind.  Although Monday morning probably would be a good time to start taking some.  Might make the day go by a bit quicker.  The first one is something that I don’t normally do, one that I’ve posted only seven of them as the subject in the 1,040+ of the pictures I have on flickr.  Flowers.  Yep.  I don’t mean multiple Marc Andre Fleurys (he’s called the Flower because of Fleury, fleur-de-lis, ok, ok, you got it).  I got Dana a bouquet of flowers for her birthday a few weeks ago (lucky for me she doesn’t like red roses) so I thought I would see if I could have some fun with them.

Through on the 50 mm 1.4 and shot away.  No HDRs, just a single exposure.  First I cropped the image, as there was a chair in the bottom right hand corner.  Put it in Color Effex and added a Glamour Glow Filter and then ran it through again and added a Pro Contrast filter.  Even though the focus was on the center flower (nope, don’t ask, have NO idea what it is), and I did get some nice bokeh (we’ve talked about that already, out of focus part of the picture), I still added a vignette to bring out the center.  At first I was a bit upset that I got the window (blue part) in the back of the frame, but that I unded up doing a curves level on the window to help bring out the blue even more.  Increased the vibrance and the purples in the image, and I liked the way it turned out.

Image number two of the day is from the early Saturday morning photowalk I took last week.  I haven’t really been too successful getting pictures of the moon in HDR, they always end up very blown out.  Well, on this  particular morning, the moon was huge in the sky, so I thought I would give it the old college try.  First attempt (which I will post in the a few days because I still like the shot) was no good.  Second attempt (which I won’t post), was worse.  Finally, I decided to head over the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, as I wanted to get the sunrise from the North Shore.  The moon was hanging in the valley between the two hills of Mt. Washington, with Heinz Field on the right, and I thought that I would go for one more.  Seven exposures later and I got what I wanted.

Merged the images using HDR Efex, using the Clean HDR Method.  I ended up masking in the entire sky from the -2 exposure, as I didn’t really like the colors that I was getting from the HDR, they weren’t what I remember seeing, and this was.  I also took the -3 exposure and masked in just the mood, just to the point where you can see the darker parts that you can see with the naked eye.  Added an overall saturation layer to the entire image, and then I had to go to work on the grass.  Grass and winter really don’t mix, and the section below the stadium was pretty brown.  I did a Color Select on the shades of grass, then did a Curves adjustment on the greens to bring them out to add some pop to the image.  I also did a Color Select on the yellow seats of the stadium to bring them out a bit more.  Added a Tonal Contrast in Color Efex and finally a High Pass Sharpening Filter and I was good to go.

Lastly, today’s shot.  So after I took the previous shot, finished walking across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, got a few shots right off the bridge, I made my way up past PNC Park, where I wanted to get the sunrise.  They are currently doing construction on the Riverwalk, so I had to divert and actually walk past the stadium.  The glow of the sun was just coming up in the corner by the home of Pirates, and the wide angle gave it almost a fish eye look.  I set up shop right in front of JP “Honus” Wagner and snapped away.

Combined the seven exposures in HDR Efex with the Natural setting and then kicked it over to Photoshop.  Once again, I wasn’t overly pleased with the sky, so I masked in the entire -2 exposure.  I also had to mask in a little bit of the top of the stadium, mostly the steel beams on top, to bring back some of the detail.  Again, I increased overall saturation, and also added an extra blue Curves layer for the rest of the sky.  Applied a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex and another High Pass Sharpening Filter and called it a day.

Well, I know that was more than I usually go through, especially on a Monday morning, but I wanted to make sure that I had everything covered.  I also know that I made no reference to the title.  I really did mean to.  I was trying to play on the Steelers and Pirates stadiums, Pirates worst in the league for 18 seasons, Steelers made it to the Super Bowl again, etc., etc..  Also for the fact that I posted something other than a wide angle cityscape.

One more thing.  Alexei Kovalev of the Pittsburgh Penguins?  A goal in regulation and then the shootout winner on Saturday night.  Welcome home Kovy.

See you all tomorrow.


Winter blues

Well, it’s Friday, and is any day better than Friday?  Ok, Saturday is equally as awesome, no work to look forward to the next day, a whole day to do nothing.  Sunday is okay until around 5, when you realize you have to go to work in less than twelve hours.  But Friday.  There is just something about getting in your car and heading home on a Friday afternoon, knowing that a weekend of infinite possibilities lies in front of you.  And hopefully some photography time.  My goal is to motivate myself to be out of bed at 6:00 tomorrow morning to catch the sunrise in downtown Pittsburgh.  We’ll see how that turns out.

We’ve had a bit of a warm spell these last few days, with temperatures hitting the upper 60s yesterday.  However they are calling for more snow on Monday, as temperatures are going to continue to fall throughout the weekend.  This is probably my least favorite time of the year.  Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, snow, seeing the ground covered for months, I think it’s great.  Winter starts out great, because although it doesn’t officially start until December 22nd, right after Thanksgiving at the end of November I feel that the seasons are changing.  Then you have Christmas (my favorite holiday) and New Years, and then in the Northeast US we get most of our snow in January and February, although this year it was pretty much the whole country.  Then the weather warms up to low 40s, all the snow melts, it rains a lot and there is just nothing enjoyable about the end of February through late April.  I don’t normally look forward to spring and summer so much, but this year I definitely am.

This Monday the Penguins will have the Washington Capitals at home in Consol Energy Center for the first time, and it will mark the first time the Caps will have been in Pittsburgh since the Winter Classic, which the Capitals won on New Year’s Day.  It may end up being a bit of a tough one, as the Penguins ranks are still relatively depleted with injuries.  In honor of that meet up, today’s post is a shot from the day after the Winter Classic, right outside Heinz Field.  Being the spouse of an employee, I got the chance to skate on the ice from the Winter Classic the next day, and had my camera to take as many pictures as I could.  I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, because those signs, that ice, will never be there again.  It’s not like a simple playoff game, when you know your team will probably make it again next year.  This had the possibility to be a once in a lifetime event.  I’ll more than likely be posting a few more pictures from that weekend on Monday.  For now, this is a shot of North Shore Drive, and you can see the Winter Classic banner hanging from the lamp post, with a bit of the city in the background.

Nothing groundbreaking in terms of processing for this shot.  Five exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex.  Masked in the entire sky from the -2 exposure as well as the tree branches that were swaying and created a few ghostly looking branches.  Added a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex as well as an S Curve in CS5 to give it a bit more contrast.  Since it was early afternoon on a sunny day, the whole scene had a very blue tint, so I added a sepia filter to help warm it up a bit.  Lastly, did some High Pass sharpening to give it a crisp look.

Thanks for all your visits this week and I hope you all have a great weekend.