HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “hockey

Lucky 13

Well, you know I have to do it.  Ok, so maybe you don’t know what “it” is, especially if you aren’t a hockey fan.  But if you have been following my blog you know I’m kinda sorta a big Pens fan, and you would also know that they are in the first round of the playoffs right now.  And last night’s game…well…it was awesome.  And while you can read recaps on about 50 different websites, I still can’t help but at least tell you how exciting it was.

This game had just about everything that makes hockey exciting (aside from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, still out with injuries).  The Pens went up 2-0 in the first 1+ period of the game on goals by Tyler Kennedy (pictured above in warm ups earlier this season) and Arron Asham, who is having an incredible post season.  TK’s goal was huge because it snapped the 0-Forever powerplay drought the Pens were on.  Early in the second Asham tallied his to double the lead.  But again, the Lightning fought back.  Martin St. Louis took a beautiful area pass, scorched past Ben Lovejoy and buried it to the far side past Fleury.  I’m not a fan of St. Louis at all, but damn that was one hell of a goal.

Pittsburgh made it out of the second up 2-1 and looked like they were on their way to a victory by the same score until Sean Bergenheim found the puck in a scrum in front of the Flower and shoveled it home, knotting the score at 2 with just 3 minutes left in regulation.  The first overtime came and went, but not before we had some more excitement.  Craig Adams was called on a terrible interference penalty (one of many terrible calls by the referees in this series) that put the Lightning again on the man advantage.  But then Pens held strong killing off all 4 Lightning powerplays last night.  Max Talbot, Tyler Kennedy and Craig Adams all had odd man chances to score but couldn’t put it behind Dwayne Roloson.  The defensive play of the night, however, was Paul Martin’ play on Lightning superstar Steve Stamkos.  Stamkos took a pass up the middle and had a breakaway, but Martin smoothly came up behind him, lifted his stick and poked the puck away.  Crisis averted.

NHL playoff overtimes are the full 20 minutes, with no shootout and a full intermission in between.  There are also no TV timeouts, so the players can get very tired very quick.  This is a factor, since this game went into the second overtime.  The Pens owned the puck for most of the fifth total period played, and it led to the play of the night.  Jordan Staal won the offensive zone faceoff and James Neal (second and third pictures above) got a shot on net, which was turned aside by Roloson.  The puck was swept around the end boards, and Kris Letang made a nice play to keep it in.  Staal corralled it with his stick and through it behind him against the boards, where it was picked up by Neal who just tossed it on net.  At the same time that announcer Bob Errey was saying “He just needs one” (referring to the fact that Neal hadn’t scored in 21 games) the puck zipped over Roloson’s shoulder for the game winning goal.  3-2 win and a 3-1 series lead as Game 5 rolls back to the ‘ Burgh on Saturday.

So why Lucky 13?  Since there are no first round byes in hockey, a team needs 16 wins to capture the Stanley Cup.  The Pens have won 3, so just 13 more.

I’m feeling lucky.

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Unbeatable

And that is what Marc Andre Fleury looked like in last night’s playoff opener.  It was possibly the best performance I have ever seen out of a goalie since I can remember, he was that good.  Didn’t matter who was shooting from where, the Flower was making kick saves, glove saves, blocker saves, pad saves.  I mean, it was just unbelievable to see.  Obliviously the Pens won, 3-0, as Fleury earned his fifth career playoff shutout.

This was a really important game, more so that a normal Game 1 of the first rounds of the playoffs.  With no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in the lineup, it was vital that the Pens were able to establish their game early and often against the high powered Lightning offense.  Pittsburgh came out hitting, with Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone and Vincent Levacalier getting the worst of it, especially Stamkos, who got absolutely destroyed by Brooks Orpik.  The best part about watching that hit was the fact that everyone saw it coming.  Everyone except Stamkos that is.

As solid as any goaltender is, a team still needs to score goals.  Even though the Pens were peppering the Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson with nearly 30 shots through two periods, they still weren’t able to put one in the back of the net.  Then, about six minutes into the third period, Alexei Kovalev (pictured above from a game last week) changed all that.  After he appeared to be tripped (with no penalty), he layed on the ice for just a second.  When the defenseman drifted away, Kovy jumped up, took a shot-pass from James Neal, and buried it in the back of the net.

Just 18 seconds later, Pens fourth liner Arron Asham (above, from last night’s game) streaked down the right side of the ice, faked a shot to draw Roloson away from the net, wrapped around the net and tried to bury one.  It bounced off a stick, came right back to him, and he buried it in the open net.  We were still going crazy from the Kovy goal, that half the arena didn’t even realize we’d scored again.  Asham is one of those roll players I talked about yesterday who, if the Pens are going to win the Cup, needs to step up, and he did just that.  Chris Kunitz added an empty netter to seal the game.

Overall the Pens looked great.  Hard hitting, great penalty killing, beating the trap that the Lightning play is what led to the Game 1 victory.  The important thing is sticking to their game for the rest of the playoffs.

Game 2 is tomorrow.  And it can’t come soon enough.


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.


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.


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.


Just another day in paradise

I try not to recap full Pens games, but I really have no choice today.

Whew.  What a game.  The Pens played the Detroit Red Wings last night at Joe Louis Arena in the Motor City and escaped with a 5-4, shootout win.  They chose to make it as interesting as they possibly could though, having been staked to a 4-0 lead through almost two full periods with two goals from Pascal Dupuis (one a sneaky bag hander and one off of a gratuitous bounce off the boards), a nifty backhand by Tyler Kennedy over sprawling netminder Jimmy Howard and one off a sweet deke by Chris Kunitz.

The run ended with about two minutes to go in the second, when Henrik Zetterberg banked one off Kris Letang’s skate past Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson.  Next thing you know the Red Wings are getting powerplay goals from Niklas Kronwall and ageless wonder Mike Modano, and one more from Valtteri Filppula, who shuffled one between the pads of Johnson that Johnson ended up kicking in his own net.

The Pens got some momentum back though, carrying it into overtime where they had chance after chance against Howard’s replacement Joey MacDonald.  Into the shootout it went.  Both goalies were brick walls until Penguin newcomer James Neal blistered a wristshot over the glove of MacDonald.  Lights out, game over, the Pens earn a precious two points in the standings.

No, the shot above is not from that game, it is from a playoff game in 2008 between these two rivals, the same 2008 playoffs that saw the Red Wings hoist the Stanley Cup in the Igloo.  Neither of the players depicted even played last night, as they are both out due to injuries.  Sidney Crosby obviously has been dealing with a concussion since early January and Chris Osgood, the Red Wings goalie has been out for about a week with a sore groin.  Although it’s not from the game, it is one of my favorite hockey shots that I have been lucky enough to get.

Today I’ll be wrapping up the Jamaican honeymoon shots.  I’ve enjoyed doing this series on my blog over the last week and a half, as it has sort of allowed me to relive being there.  I had not gone through all my shots from there in a few months, and it was nice to put myself there again.

Sunset was just an incredible time of day there, more so that in a lot of places.  It was almost as if you waited with anticipation to see what kind of colors were going to appear, what the clouds were going to look like.  These are two of my favorite shots I got right around dusk.  One was taken with my S90, a bracket of three exposures, and the other with my D40X, an eleven exposure HDR.  Both were processed in Photomatix, with some slight masking of the sky to get rid of some noise and colors.

I hope that you have enjoyed the Jamaican series.  I’ll figure out another series to do next.

Thanks for stopping by.


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.


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.


Bridging the gap

As I sit here consuming my favorite morning caffeinated beverage (Coke Zero) I was thinking about the whole idea of blogging in general for a couple of reasons.  First, I never thought that I would be blogging at all and now I am posting five entries a week.  Kind of a big jump.  Second, this started out as purely a photo blog, and if you look back at my first posts (actually, don’t look back at my first posts), you’ll see I posted a mini picture and about three lines of text.  I started to get a little better, sharing sights of Pittsburgh and the Penguins, but those were few and far between.  Like months between.  But, I was still photo blogging.  Then I had a sort of blogging epiphany and decided to post every weekday.  My idea was to just post the picture on my flickr website (if you haven’t checked that out yet, head on over) and put the long description on here.  But I know that only a small percentage of people will visit both, and I didn’t want to leave my flickr folks in the dark.  So I kept posting medium length descriptions on there and full length write ups on here.  But who wants to read about the same picture twice?  Not sure I would, and they are my pictures.  So I try to post something interesting (blizzards galore, Pittsburgh Penguins, random pontifications) to spice it up a bit.  Which brings me to my third caffeine inspired thought.  This is stuff is not easy to come up with.  I know I’ve said it before a few weeks ago, but every day that I sit down and think about what I’d like to share with you, I have more and more respect for those of you out there who do some more of daily journalism (newspaper columnists, other bloggers, etc).

All that being said, I know that this has turned into a hybrid of Pittsburgh Penguin news and photography information.  For right now, I’m okay with that, as the Pens have had some big news this year, and as the playoffs get closer, it will probably get even more exciting.  I will write about other stuff that seems relevant/pops into my head, but with so much going on for the Pens it’s difficult to not write about them.

And they had more big news yesterday.  Alexei Kovalev, who spent parts of five seasons with the Pens, will be back in the black and gold on Friday, as he was traded to Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon for a 7th round pick (6th round if the Pens win the first round of the playoffs and Kovy plays half of the games).  He was a fan favorite when he was last here almost a decade ago, and I’m sure he will be again.  Will he be able to bridge the gap in the Pens offensive woes as of late and be a key to the Pens’ success over the next few months?  I think that if he has a great last third of the season, that the Pens will do.  With the acquisition of James Neal and Mat Niskanen, we really beefed up the offense heading into the home stretch.  If Sidney Crosby, out since January 5th with a concussion, can make it back into the lineup, then there is no doubt in my mind that we will be playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup once again in May.

Since the primary purpose of this blog is photography, how about we take a look at a picture?  Like I said yesterday, last Saturday I was up and about early, walking around downtown, trying to get the sunrise.  Once I got the shot I wanted right as the sun came over the buildings, I shot a few different angles of it and decided to call it a day, err, I mean morning, and head back to the car.  I trekked across the Clemente Bridge and halfway there, I came across a spot where the sun was just cutting through the buildings and lighting up the bridge.  Pulled the camera back out of the backpack, set up the tripod, and fired away.  It’s shots like this that make me want to get up and go shooting every morning.

I processed this one pretty similar to the last one.  This is another seven exposure HDR that I processed with HDR Efex under the Clean HDR Method.  Removed all the dust spots, masked in a bit of the buildings on the right, as they were a little dark for my liking.  Didn’t have to do any work on the halos, because, although it looks like there is one, it is really just the light shining from behind them.  I masked it the -1 exposure, but it looked exactly the same, so I took it out.  Desaturated the whole shot then did a bit of enhancing of the yellows on the bridge.  Added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and some High Pass sharpening at the end.

That wraps up another week at HDR Exposed.  Pens play the Canes tonight, should be a good one.  Hope you all enjoy your weekend, and I’ll catch you on the flip side.