HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “marc andre fleury

Looking back

What a season.

The Pen’s quest for a fourth Stanley Cup ended last night with a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a real heartbreaking loss.  Not that all playoff losses aren’t heartbreaking, but you just had the feeling that the Pens were just one lucky bounce away from moving on to the next round.  I do have to give Tampa Bay some credit.  They played a solid series, fueled by 41 year old Dwayne Roloson in net and by all accounts derserved to win the series.  They capitalized on chances nearly every time they got them and Pittsburgh didn’t.

The lone goal was scored by Sean Bergenheim, on an absolute identical play that they scored on in Game 6.  With Dominick Moore going around the net, he dropped a blind pass back to Bergenheim who, with Marc Andre Fleury moving to the far post, slammed it into a half empty net.  Not that the Pens didn’t have their chances.  They finished the game 0-5 on the powerplay, including a six on four for the final two minutes of the game, making them an abysmal 1-35 on the man advantage in the series.

I don’t want to talk too much about last night, just wanted to touch on it.  This has been one hell of a season with a lot of ups and downs along the way.  CONSOL Energy Center opened this year, replacing the Civic Arena, where the Pens called home for over 40 years.  Although we lost the inaugural game to hated cross-state rivals the Flyers, you could just feel the excitement in the building.  The consecutive sellout streak also rolled on, eclipsing over 200 at the end of the season.  That just shows the support and the dedication of the fans in Pittsburgh.

We hosted the Winter Classic this year at Heinz Field against another rival, the Washington Capitals, as well as being featured in the HBO special, “24/7”.  Again, the game didn’t turn out exactly as hoped, as the Pens were handed a 3-1 defeat, but that was an experience like no other.  The game was supposed to be played in the afternoon, but inclement weather pushed the game into the evening, underneath the lights, and with 68,000 plus fans screaming, it didn’t matter if there was a monsoon, it would have still been incredible.

However that game will live in infamy, as that is the game where Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion after he took a blind side hit from David Steckel that ended his season.  The injury most likely occurred during that hit, but ironically, it was a hit the following game by Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning that sidelined him for the next three and a half months, the same Lightning that just ended the Penguin’s season last night.

Sid wasn’t the only one to get hit by the injury bug this year.  Evgeni Malkin took a hard hit by Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres that tore a ligament in his knee.  Jordan Staal, out the first few months after recovering from foot surgery from an injury suffered in last year’s playoffs, got sidelined again in late October by a broken hand in practice.  Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey suffered knee injuries as well, and Arron Asham and Eric Tangradi both, like Crosby were victims of concussions.  The final count in man games lost due to injury was nearly 400, yet they were still able to get within 13 victories of the Stanley Cup.

All in all, it was a great season, a fun season to watch and be a part of as a fan.

About the shots in this post, all taken last night.  The top shot is one that I’ve been trying to get for a while, and I finally got it last night.  I had been trying to get a silhouetted fan waving their rally towel and I think that this one game out pretty good.  The next one is someone holding up a beer toasting the Pens, and this one will be my post on flickr today.  The next two are both from after the game, one during the handshake between the two teams after the series and the other of the Pens holding up their sticks in salute of the fans after the game.  Lastly, I threw on in there from the walk back to the car, because I like how the bokeh turned out.

One more time…Let’s go Pens.


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.


On the rebound

You hate to call a game where the best of seven series is tied 1-1 a must win, especially in the first round.  But that’s what last night was for the Pittsburgh Penguins.  After a gem of a Game 1 by Marc Andre Fleury, the Pens collapsed in Game 2, losing 5-1 and looking terrible in doing so.  Tampa Bay seized all of the momentum and they were playing Game 3 on their turf.  The Pens needed to respond by being physical, putting goals up early, and staying off the penalty kill.  They did two of those three things, and the one they didn’t (putting Tampa Bay on the power play) almost did them in.

The Pens opened up the scoring early with Max Talbot and Arron Asham scoring just minutes apart to stake Pittsburgh to a 2-0.  That would hold up until the Lightning were the beneficiaries of an atrocious penalty called on Alexei Kovalev for goaltender interference when in reality it was the defenseman who checked him into the goalie.  Martin St. Louis scored in the waning seconds of the powerplay to cut the lead in half.

In the third, the Bolts again went on the man advantage after a questionable interference call on Paul Martin.  Once again, St. Louis came down from his position on the point, corralled the puck with his skate and buried it between the pad and glow of a sprawling Fleury.  The Pens needed to answer quickly, and just 31 seconds later, with Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson looking for the puck between his legs, Tyler Kennedy scooped it out from right in front of him and put it home.  Pens win, 3-2 and take a 2-1 series lead.

Last night was a huge win, not just for the fact that the Pens did win, but because they got some of their swagger back.  Kris Letang (first picture above) had one of the worst games I’ve seen him play in the loss last Friday, but looked very solid last night and earned the #1 Star of the game.  Brooks Orpik (second picture above), known for his physical play, was back at it last night, sending players all over the ice.  Game 4 is Wednesday night, and I think the Pens will be ready.

Until tomorrow.


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.


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.


A flash of brilliance

I really can’t help but at least talk about the Pens for a little bit after a game.  Although they lost again last night, which is getting to be a common theme with the rash of injuries they’ve had, there were some sparks in the lineup that certainly give you some optimism.  Tyler Kennedy, on a bit of a tear as of late, scored two goals, and Marc Andre Fleury looked absolutely brilliant in the loss.  The goals, a one timer from behind the net on a power play, a bad bounce that game right to a Shark who jammed it home, and a scrum in front of the net with Fleury down, can be easily forgiven.  The offense has to get going though, averaging only 2 goals a game since the departure of Sidney Crosby, last in league by a long shot.  I’m not giving up on the season yet.  Let’s go Pens.

Some shots from the game last night.  The first one is a thirty image panorama that I took with the iPhone and stitched with AutoStitch.  I think that it game out pretty cool.  The second one is a tilt shift that I took with the S95, as that is a custom scene on the phone.  Also not too shabby.

30 image panorama

Canon S95 Tilt Shift

Like I said a few days ago, I was finally able to get out shooting this weekend.  Got up real early on Saturday at 6, grabbed the gear, and rolled out downtown.  I had this vision of the sunrise coming up over the city and me standing at the Point, where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio.  However, I got downtown, which was eerily empty, seeing as it was 6:30 on a Saturday morning, and realized that that just wasn’t going to work.  There are still doing construction at the Point, and it really detracted from the picture.  Ok, on to Plan B.  I headed over the Fort Duquesne Bridge towards Heinz Field, and the view down the river was stunning.  The moon was huge in the sky, the colors were all kinds of shades of pastels and the water was nice and calm in the river.  Got a few shots, then headed over my destination, right below the Clemente Bridge.  Set up the tripod, snapped a few pre sunrise shots and waited.  I saw the sun starting to come and thought, “It has to peak around the buildings soon.”  I look behind me, and see it is already shining on the building that I was standing in front of.  So I back up 10 feet, and lo and behold, there is the sun, streaming through the Rachel Carson Bridge.  “Um yeah, I’ll take an order of sun flares, no thanks, no halos for me today.”

This is a seven exposure HDR processed under the Clean setting on HDR Efex.  After cleaning up all the dust spots in the sky (yes I forget to clean the sensor before I went out.  Come on, it was 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday.  Gimme a break.) I could go to work.  First, I selected the tree and recovered some of the shadows on it.  I wanted it to be silhouetted, just not as much as it was.  I added a green curves level to enhance the grass and the bushes, as well as did selective coloring to give the sun a more reddish tint, as it was a bit too yellow for my liking.  Kicked it over the Color Efex where I added a Tonal Contrast layer on everything but the sky, and finally added some High Park Sharpening.  I really like the result, one of my favorite shots that haven’t been from New York in a while.

That about wraps it up for today.  One more day til Friday.


A Classic rematch

Heinz Field the day after the Classic

Usually coming up with a title is one of the more difficult parts of writing these blog entries, but today was easier than most.  If you stopped by on Friday, you read that this evening will be a rematch between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.  This is not the first time the two teams have played since that cold, rainy New Year’s Day game, but it’s the first time the Caps have been back in town since then.  The make up of the Pens is vastly different this time around, with the ranks still being depleted by injuries.  It’s going to be a good show none the less, as it is always is when two rivals face off.

Rivalries are one of the best things about sports.  Of course every fan dreams about their team winning a championship, as that is the ultimate prize for any league.  Individual player awards are nice, but they don’t do a whole lot for the fans.  Rivalries though, that is what really gives sports that edge, that intensity, that can’t miss game appeal.  It’s amazing how rivalries in games can transcend into the culture of an entire city.  Take my hometown, Pittsburgh and their football team the Steelers (notice I said their, not our) and one of their most hated rivals, the Cleveland Browns.  The competition between the two teams has spread from the football field and into the streets of the cities, with Cleveland being called “The Mistake on the Lake”, t shirts that say “The only sign of intelligence in Cleveland is ‘Pittsburgh – 170 miles’”, and general ridicule for all things Cleveland.  It doesn’t really help that the Browns haven’t been able to really field a competitive football team in years, but I think if they had, it would only fuel the rivalry further.

There will also always be those classic rivalries, like Lakers-Celtics in the NBA, Yankees-Red Sox in baseball, Packers-Vikings in the NFL and Duke-North Carolina in college basketball.  But it can be really exciting to watch rivalries grow, like the one between the Pens and Capitals.  Sure they have been Eastern (or Wales back in the old days) Conference competitors for decades, but with the emergence of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as the two best players in the world, it has taken the feud to an all new level and makes them the most exciting two teams to watch in the league, especially when they play each other.  No matter what happens with for the rest of their careers, Sid and Ovechkin have left their mark on these franchises that will last a lifetime.

On to the shots.  I won’t be going through the processing on these, just wanted to share a few sights from the 2011 Winter Classic.  Check out the caption below each for the description.  You’ll have to excuse the quality on the close ups of Sid, Geno and Ovechkin.  We weren’t allowed to bring in big cameras, so I had the S95 at full zoom, which doesn’t giving the most crisp shots.  The other in game action shots were taken with it as well, and they turned out great.

Opening faceoff

 

Puck behind the net

 

More board play

Sid and Geno

Alex Ovechkin

 

Center ice, the day after the game

 

View towards the open end of Heinz Field


Bokeh with a chance of a Fleury

For those of you who live in Pittsburgh, the title to today’s post is one of many times we’ve heard (insert hockey term/any other noun here) with a chance of Fleury.  And for that I apologize.  However, I have never used it anywhere on my blog, or I don’t think ever in my life, so I feel we are all entitled to one use.  I also understand that there may be some non hockey folks who read this blog, so I should at least tell you that Mar Andre Fleury is the goalie for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a guy with a last name as cold as Fleury couldn’t have ended up on a better team than the Penguins.  One more thing to explain to any non photography readers out there.  Bokeh describes the appearance of the out of focus areas of a photograph.  All those little circles you see in the back of pictures, in the out of focus areas?  Yep, bokeh.  It’s a result of using a shallow depth of field that comes from the maximum aperture (or smallest f stop) on a camera.  Ok.  Enough of that.  On to the post.

Like I’ve said in prior posts, I usually like to post pictures from the Pens game that I was at the night before.  Well, there was a Penguin game last night, but it was not in Pittsburgh.  In fact, it was Denver, and while I’m sure that I could have been there, taken this picture, flown home and started writing this in the time since the game ended, I’m not sure I’d be so much writing now as I would be sleeping on my desk.  Since I am awake at my deks, we must assume that I didn’t go the game, and I took this shot at last Thursday’s game in the ‘Burgh.  I did feel compelled to post a picture of our great goaltender Marc Andre Fleury as he was spectacular last night in net for the Pens.  As you may or may not know, the Pens have been decimated by injuries this year, with the list of players currently out:  Sidney Crosby (concussin), Evgeni Malkin (knee), Mark Letestu (knee), Eric Godard (suspended), Matt Cooke (suspended), Chris Kunitz (lower body), Eric Tangradi (concussion), Dustin Jeffrey (lower body), Arron Asham (lower body) and Mike Comrie (hip).  This includes a league MVP (Sid), Rookie of the year (Sid), scoring champ (Malkin), playoff MVP (Malkin), top goal scorer (Sid) and Stanley Cup champion (all but Jeffrey, Tangradi and Letestu).  It’s been a tough road the past few games, as we had lost four of our last five.  But last night Fleury showed up big time, making big save after big save to keep us in the game, killing off power plays and giving us the chance to take the game into overtime.  With time winding down both in the overtime period and on the power play for the Pens, Tyler Kennedy ripped a rebound past Peter Budaj (pronounced Boo-die…a bit weird, but a cool name none the less) for the game winner.  3-2 Pens win.

While there is bokeh in the Fleury shot, that’s not the bokeh I was referring to in the title  I mentioned yesterday that I was trying to step out of my element a bit more in terms of photography and not just post wide angle cityscapes and sunflares.  Today is another attempt to do that.  Staying strong today with the 50mm 1.4 (there’s that large aperture that allows for that big bokeh), I was out and about before a Pens game a few weeks back and happened upon this railing with some people walking towards me and some cars in the background.  Dialed it down to the 1.4 aperture, crouched down low, waited for the people to get a bit closer and snapped away.  I was going for a bit more of an abstract feel here, and I thought it was an added bonus that you can see the reflection of the path and where it meets the grass in the reflection.

Just because it’s not an HDR doesn’t mean that I didn’t process it.  I don’t think that I’ve posted an unprocessed picture to flickr in years.  Literally years.  More than two for sure.  Seeing as this just over my second year on flickr, that tells you how much I love to process pictures.  Opened in Camera RAW, moved the clarity way up, decreased the saturation and increased the vibrance and contrast.  Kicked it over the Color Efex where it got a Low Key Filter and a Pro Contrast Filter to get rid of the color cast that I didn’t like.  Enhanced the red lights in the background and added a bit of a vignette.  That’s all she wrote.

And that’s all I’m going to write today.  I’ll be back tomorrow though, for those of your who were worrying.

P.S. – Yesterday’s beer?  Guiness.


Theatre like no other

I know not everyone who reads this blog this is a hockey fan, but I just have to take a second to talk about the Pittsburgh Penguins game last night.  First off, we won, which is always positive, a 3-0 shutout of the lowly New York Islanders (sorry NY fans).  It was a bit of a scrappy game from the start, and it just so happened that our scrappy guys got our goals.  Tyler Kennedy opened the scoring in the first on a great power play goal from a sharp angle, Chris Kunitz banked one in off Rick DiPietro on a 2-1 with Pascal Dupuis.  DiPietro got caught cheating back to Dupuis’ side and Kunitz made him pay.

No scoring in the second, but things got a bit scrappy.  Mike Rupp won a fight, there were hard hits all around, with Matt Cooke and Max Talbot really flying around the ice.  Max, who was on a 25 game scoring drought, hit two goalposts, got robbed on a seemingly open net, and just couldn’t seem to buy a goal.  That was until 40 seconds left when Max, with the Islanders having vacated their net for a sixth attacker, took a backhand pass from Craig Adams and buried a 70 footer.  3-0, Pens up, game in the bag. 

But, this piece is called “Theatre like no other” for a reason.  Well, two actually.  The first reason is what happened next.  With 20 seconds left, Cooke raced down to try to beat an icing call.  Skating past the net, DiPietro, who had taken some hard shots from Cooke in the last meeting between these two teams, stepped out of his crease and through a blocker to Cooke’s face.  A scrum ensued in the corner, when all of a sudden, the coolest, most awesome, rarest, exciting things that can happen in a hockey game, happened.  Out of the corner of the screen you see DiPietro start skating away from the pile towards center ice.  Then you see a referee skate at full tilt after him.  Brent Johnson (pictured above), the backup for goalie Mar Andre Fleury, was at the Islanders blue line, gloves off, helmet off, ready to take on DiPietro.  The referee did everything he could to stop Johnson, but he was on a mission to repay the Islanders netminder for the cheap shot he had just delivered.  Both goalies grabbed the other one’s jersey, and Johnson, who is right handed, landed a left hook to DiPietro’s jaw, sending him to the ice in a heap.  Brent then knelt over to pof him, one had holding him down, the other raised in a fist, not ready to punch, just showing his vanquished foe that these Penguins are not who you want to mess with.

You don’t seen goalie fights hardly ever anymore, especially now since Patrick Roy is out of the league, who was famous for fights with both Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek.  But to see the soft spoken Brent Johnson, drop the gloves against some like DiPietro, who deserved everything he got from Johnnie, it was just a sight to see.  I may have to get a Brent Johnson jersey.

Sorry for the recap, but it was just too awesome not to talk about!  Today we go back to New York and take a look at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre on West 46th Street, right outside of Times Square.  This theatre was right next to our hotel, the Marriott Marquis, and I knew I had to get a picture of it at night.  The first night I took my five handheld brackets, but the last two were a bit blurry, something I discovered back in the room.  I didn’t want to lug my drop out for a night on the town, so I bumped up the ISO the next night and gave it another shot.  This time I got five crisp exposures.  Perfect!  We actually debated about maybe going to see the Addams Family, which you can see was playing there.  Maybe next time.

On to the processing.  Like I said, this is a five handheld bracketed shot that I processed with HDR Efex.  The lights on the front of the building were kind of throwing me off, as they make the front of the building different colors with different light sources.  I ended up just decreasing the saturation the oranges, and that did the trick!  I had to mask back in the people on the street and a bit of the blown out highlights from the Times Square signs as well.  Added a Tonal Contrast filter to everything but the sky and recovered some of the dark shadows, added a bit more color to the blue sky, saved, uploaded!

See you tomorrow!


The best and the rest

First off, I wanted to thank all of you who read and commented on my article yesterday.  I couldn’t believe so many people stopped by and it ended up being my most heavily trafficked blog day ever!  I really appreciate it!

This weekend is All Star weekend both for the NFL and NHL.  One I don’t care about at all, one I was really excited to watch, but probably won’t even tune in now.  The one that is completely meaningless in my eyes is the NFL Pro Bowl.  First off, they have it the week before the Super Bowl, meaning that the players from the top two teams remaining (notice I didn’t say best) aren’t going to be there.  To me that was half the fun of the Pro Bowl, watching the Super Bowl champs play against the other all stars.  Not anymore in the NFL.

The NHL All Star game I was really excited about a few weeks ago.  Sidney Crosby (pictured above) was leading the league in points and goals and beat the rest of the league by over 150,000 all star votes.  I mean that is just insane.  Center Evgeni Malkin was voted it, goalie Marc Andre Fleury, and defenseman Kris Letang was voted in as a write in.  But, since Sid and Geno (Malkin) are still out with injury, only Fleury and Letang will play.

I had a quick question too for all of my Canadian friends.  How come when Pittsburgh plays in Ottawa and Montreal, Sidney Crosby gets booed worse than anywhere in the league outside of Philadelphia?  I know he is competition, but he won the gold medal in the Olympics for you!  I mean, I was rooting for the USA, and while I am sad we lost, I will take a loss by the hands of Sid any day.  He’s the greatest player in the world, and before his career is over, he will be mentioned as one of the top three hockey players of all time, up there with Gretzky and Lemieux.  I completely understand that I am biased seeing as he plays for my team, but he’s a clean player, a class act, took the team on his shoulders after Mario retired when he was only 20.  If the USA would have won in dramatic fashion on an ovetime goal, I think it would be hard for me to boo the player that scored it, even if he played for the Flyers or the Capitals.  Just wondering.

So, finally, today’s shot.  I took this last Friday evening before a happy hour with some friends in Station Square.  I got there a little early to do some shooting, but I ended up with just a handful of shots because it was about 0°F, with a windchill that made it seem like -10°F.  Seeing as I was on a bridge and the wind just whips down the river, it was all I could do to wait for the seven brackets and run back to my car.  Which I parked in a garage that was a good ten minute walk.  Genius I know.  The bridge I am on is the Smithfield St. Bridge that is right next to Station Square in the South Side.  It’s one of the classier bridges in downtown, with great iron work on the top that I’ve showcased a few other times.

Let’s get technical, technical, I wanna get technical.  Sorry about that, I don’t normally break out into song during my posts.  Like I said earlier, this is a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex.  I kicked it over the Color Efex and applied a Tonal Contrast filter on the buildings and water (left the sky alone) and then applied a Low Key Filter to the entire image.  Burned a bit of the sky in spots and added a warming filter to tone down some of the blues.  I had gotten there a bit too late to get the sunset and a bit too early for the blue hour.  Oh well there’s always next time!

Thanks for stopping by, and if I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night!


Mellon Arena…oh, how you will be missed!

With the Pens in the midst of another playoff run, and since this is the last season ever at Mellon Arena, I thought I’d share some of my shots of the historic Pittsburgh landmark.

Built in 1961 for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Orchestra, the $22M structure was the world’s first largest indoor sports arena with a retractable roof.  It has played host to multiple concerts, basketball, tennis, boxing, wrestling, and soccer matches, with some notable concerts being the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Queen, Elvis Presley and the Beatles.  The Penguins began playing in the Arena in 1967, when they were one of 6 new hockey franchises to be added to the NHL. (wikipedia)

But this is information you can get off any website.  What you CAN’T find on a website is the Mellon Arena aka the Igloo aka The House that Lemieux built, experience.  Now, anyone from Pittsburgh will know what I am talking about.  However, for those of you who aren’t, or those of you who have been to the Arena but never to a Penguins game, here’s what you can expect, at least for another month and half or so, before the Pens move across the street to the newly built Consol Energy Center.

What you can’t read on a website is how when you walk in, you immediately get inundated with the smell of every fried stadium food you can imagine.  The Arena is so small, that the smell of hot dogs, nachos, fries, sausages and chicken fingers just overwhelms you, and you will find that you can still smell it on you two days and four showers later.  Speaking of the limited size of the concourse of the Arena, the only place that I have ever been to that is worse is Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, and that is only because they only have one concourse for all 20,000 fans.  Mellon Arena is a bit better, as it does have two concourses, however I feel like the cowbells that people ring during the game should be distributed so we can all be herded in the intermission.  “‘Scuse me, sorry about that, whoops, my fault, I’m sorry, comin’ through” is pretty much the dialogue that you hear as you meander through the crowds.

What you can’t find on a website is all the different people who you see game after game.  There is “Steel City Man”, dressed in armor; there is the super fan who looks strangely like Hulk Hogan; there is the girl who always wears a hockey mask and pajamas; there is the kid who puts on a show during the nightly playing of “Cotton Eye Joe” in the Igloo club; and, this time of year, there are clip on beards, painted on beards, glued on beards and of course real beards, all in support of concept of “playoff beards”.  Men, women and children all partake, some better than others!

And of course the last thing you can’t get off a website is the sheer awesomeness of watching Sidney Crosby and his Penguins play.  The electric atmosphere when Sid or Geno touches the puck, you feel like it’s going to end up in back of the net every time.  When the opponent has a breakaway, you have faith that Marc Andre Fleury will come up with a save reminiscent of the one he had against Alex Ovechkin in game 7 of last year’s conference quarterfinals, or against Dan Cleary on the breakaway in game 6 of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.  Just being there, taking it all in, and knowing that you are watching one of the greatest players to ever play the game, it’s just an experience like no other.

Good luck in the second round of the playoffs against the Canadiens Pens!

LET’S GO PENS!!! LET’S GO PENS!!!  LET’S GO PENS!!!