HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “jamaica

Seat with a view

I’ll tell you what, it has not stopped raining for almost 48 hours now.  I need to see the sun soon.  Until then, how about Jamaica overload today?

One of my favorite parts about being on vacation at an all inclusive resort (other than the fact that I am at the beach, off work and don’t have to worry about a thing except what I want to get next to drink) is the food and drink.  I realize that that is why people attend an all inclusive resort, and I don’t know how I can ever go back to going to a non all inclusive.  I’ve been to plenty of open bars before, at weddings, parties and the like, but to be able to go to a restaurant or a bar at the resort, order a drink or food and just leave a tip for the whole week?  It makes going back to a restaurant in the States that much more difficult, because when you are finished eating, you’re like, “Oh wait, you want me to pay??  I can’t even think about food now!”.  I know, I know, you already pay for the food at an all inclusive, but since we normally book our trips about four months in advance, I feel like I’m getting it all for free.

The food at Couples Sans Souci was some of the best we have ever had on vacation.  It wasn’t like some of the other all inclusive resorts that we have stayed at, where they try very hard to cater to the different tastes of their guests, and have Mexican, Italian and American food night.  While they did have a pasta night at one of the restaurants, it was pasta with a Jamaican kick, something that you probably would not even find in the States.

The other great thing about the food at these resorts is where you get to eat it at. At one of the restaurants, we got a table right on the beach twice, and ate by candlelight listening to the sounds of the ocean.  It couldn’t have been more relaxing.  We also ate breakfast overlooking the courtyard/main lawn area in front of the resort and had our “formal” dinner overlooking a walkway that went to the beach.  Then you come back home, go out to dinner, and have a table of screaming kinds next to you.  Awesome.

Anyway, today’s shots are from some of the different restaurants around the resort.  The first two are from the buffet style restaurant, Pallazina, and the view from one of our table.  The one of the actual restaurant was processed with Photomatix, before I discovered the beauty of HDR Efex.  Standard processing on that one, just had to mask in the sky, as there were some crazy halos going on.  Also had to reduce the noise in some of the wicker work on the tables and chairs.  The second one was taken with my Canon S90 at breakfast during our last day at the resort.  There was a nice breeze blowing, and that hammock you see in the tree was swinging back and forth, begging someone to lay on it.  Processed that one with HDR Efex, had to mask in some of the tree branches that showed some motion blur.  Also added a vibrant green curves layer to give the whole image some pop.

My upload for today is the view from one the beach bar, a view that I’ve posted a few other times, but this one was a little different.  I also took this one with my S90, single shot, no HDR this time.  Processed it with Color Efex and first added a Tonal Contrast filter to the sand, railing and tree.  Then I added a Glamour Glow filter to the entire image, gave it a nice inviting, um, well, glow.  Increased saturation of the sand, straightened the horizon, added pillbox borders, and shipped it off the HDR Exposed for your viewing pleasure.

As long as it keeps raining, keep looking for more Jamaica on HDR Exposed.  See you guys and gals later.

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World of color

These last few weeks have been some of the most miserable weather I can remember for a while.  I didn’t really want to start off two straight days mentioning the weather, but today is just awful.  It’s that wet, slushy snow mixed with rain.  Just awful.  So today’s shot will try to brighten up outside.  First, more from Jamaica.

So yesterday I started with a post of a panorama of Couples Sans Souci that I took with the Canon S90 from about a hundred feet out in the water.  Today I’ll give you a shot of the same part of the resort, except looking down from above.  That way, you can really get a sense of the resort and how beautiful it was, albeit a bit small.  But that’s ok.  We really enjoyed the fact that you could see both ends of the beaches and it didn’t just run from resort to resort, where even if your resort did not have any kids, there were big families at the next resort over who were more concerned with getting their next margarita than controlling their children.

This was our first time staying at a couple’s only resort and until we have children of our own, I think that this is the way to go.  I mentioned yesterday that the average age was definitely older than us, however we were still able to find people our age that we spent some time hanging out with during our week there.  The full capacity of the resort is just over 300 guests, but I would say that there were about half that there in early August of last year.  This made it even more enjoyable, as you weren’t packed at the bar waiting for a drink, or waiting forever at a table for dinner, or waiting for anything at all for that matter.

The only time we actually left the resort was to spend a few hours shopping on one rainy afternoon and the day we spent at Dunn’s River Falls, climbing through the waterfall.  For the most part, we just moved from a chair on the beach to a raft in the water, back to the chair, back to the raft.  They even had a little grille bar on the beach, so we didn’t even have to leave for lunch time, we just grabbed some jerk chicken or pizza at the bar and headed back down to our chairs.  And what a view we had.

Today’s shot is a far cry from Jamaica in terms of surroundings and weather, but it’s still colorful in its own way.  This is a view from the top of Allegheny Cemetery one a photowalk that I went on last fall with Mike Criswell, a.k.a. Theaterwiz.  Wiz and the Empress came down from Ohio to do some shooting in downtown Oakland, have some lunch at Hofbrauhaus and then head on over the Allegheny Cemetery.  Even though I live less than twenty minutes from there, I had never been there before, so I was anxious to go shooting.  It was a beautiful fall day, a perfect day to capture the sights from a historic place like that.  You can actually see Wiz on the right hand side of this shot.

Now for the processing.  This is a nine exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Dark Soft” method.  I added a control point in the sky, as it made the clouds darker than I liked.  Kicked it over to Photoshop where I added a level adjustment to the blues to enhance the little bit of sky peeking through and an overall saturation layer to enhance all the colors.  Adjusted the shadows to recover them just a pinch.  I masked it some of the clouds as well, because a few of them were a little blown out.  Added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color and some High Pass sharpening and call it a day.

That’s all for today.  More to come tomorrow.

Oh yeah, Pens won last night against the Sabres.  First regulation win since February 4th.  Against the Sabres.


Getting warmer

Ok, ok, so I know that it isn’t getting that much warmer around here, but we are supposed to have three straight days of 50+ degree weather, which is pretty excited.  Granted, there is the western Pennsylvania spring rain that will come along with it, but I’ll take what I can get.

Since we are about to have a bit of a warm spell, I thought that I would warm up HDR Exposed with a shot from Jamaica, another panorama.  I won’t be posting this one to flickr (at least not right now), but I still think it is a pretty cool shot.

Like I’ve mentioned a few times before, we stayed at the Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios Jamaica and could not have been happier with our choice.  The last couple tropical vacations we took to Punta Cana and Cancun, we certainly more of a party atmosphere.  After planning a wedding for almost two years, especially dealing with the last couple months before the wedding, we were just looking for someone nice and quiet to relax and take some time off.  That’s exactly what we found at Couples Sans Souci.  Sure there was some  partying at night, but with no kids running around and the average age of the other people at the resort a good ten years older than us, we found a nice mix of fun, sun and relaxation.

I’ll be posting a few shots from our trip everyday this week to try to encourage the warm weather to get here faster.  Who knows, maybe it will work.  As for the processing on the panorama, it is a twelve shot pano/vertorama, with six shots for the top and six for the bottom.  Photoshop CS5 did a great job of blending the sky, so I just had to do some minor shadow adjustment.  This is the view of the entire resort, so you can see how small and secluded it is.  It doesn’t share beaches with other resorts, so you didn’t get the peddlers or random people walking through what you were trying to lay on the beach.  Very nice.

Today’s “official” upload is a far cry from the beaches in Jamaica.  This is the Portal Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that is near the Point in downtown Pittsburgh.  I took this the day I took most of my previous uploads, on that Saturday morning that was cold and windy.  I’ve been wanting to capture this bridge for a while, but all of the construction that they’ve been doing around the Point has made it a bit difficult, and I even had to move some signage and construction barrels out of the way for this shot.  It was built in 1961 and connects the tip of downtown Pittsburgh to Point State Park.

On to the processing.  This is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Clean” Method.  The lighting was a bit tricky to handle, as, like I’ve said before, the D700 gets a little confused sometimes with white balance from different light sources.  I had to tone down the warm lights coming from the side of the bridge and added an overall desaturation layer.  Applied a Tonal Contrast filter, added some definition in iPhoto and shipped it off to the blog.

Thanks for your visits everyone, they are much appreciated.


Tropical Escape

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a picture from Jamaica on my blog.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever posted a picture of Jamaica on here or even talked about it.  Well, either way, one is making an appearance today!  I thought that this was a great time since it was 14F this morning, and freezing rain is in the forecast for the next few days.  Awesomeness.  Can’t wait.  Anyhoo, how about a little warmth?  Just talking about it makes the cold a little less tolerable!

We made the trip to Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica for our honeymoon.  There were a few places on our list, like St. Thomas, the Bahamas, Aruba, but we settled on Jamaica just because we wanted a nice, relaxing time, and didn’t want to have to feel pressured to join in resort activities or do excursions.  Well let me tell you, it was an excellent choice!  It was eight days of sitting on the beach, drinking glass after glass of whisky and tequila, and the wife have pina coladas, mudslides, margaritas and every other fruity/nauseating drink you could think of.  Don’t be fooled by the nauseating part…I mean, I like a margarita just as much as the next guy, but after three or four of them in the hot sun, all that sugar sitting in your stomach, you’re just asking for a bad day!  I stuck with the good stuff and felt great!  I don’t want to go through our entire trip (could be the longest blog post ever if I did, but I will go in more detail in future posts), so on to today’s shot!

This is one I took on our last night there after we ate at the nice restaurant on the resort.  There was one helluva storm brewing out over the water, and I was able to capture decent lightning for the first time (see below).  The above shot was taken about twenty minutes after that.  It was really cool to see the glow of the beach bar and the different shades of green being reflected in the water.  Since there was a storm moving in (or at least around), there was a fair amount of wind, which caused all the motion blur on the branches.  I kind of liked the look, gives you a sense of being there!

Technically, this shot was a bit more of a pain than my last couple.  Since I didn’t take my D700 on vacation I just had my D40X, where the noise control is not nearly as good.  This is a 7 shot HDR, processed with HDR Efex and then kicked over the Color Efex.  I added a Tonal Contrat filter on the whole scene except the sky, then added an additional Tonal Contrast Filter on the water.  Did some Selective Coloring to brighten up the green at the back of the shot, and toned down the highlights since the beach bar was too bright.  Finally, did some noise reduction in Topaz Denoise, and there ya go!

Exciting news, I will be unveiling a new tutorial later today on HDR Efex!  Stay tuned to check it out!

Thanks for dropping by and have a great week everyone!