HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “photography

End of the day

So today’s the last day on the old blog.  You know, six months ago I probably would not even care.  But I’ve gotten used to how things work around here, got used to the format, how to post, add pictures.  I’m sorry, I didn’t want to get emotional *sniff *sniff*…

Ok, well now that THAT’S done with, I really am excited.  I’ve spent a ton of time this week getting everything ready, and while it may be a few weeks until I am at the level I’d like to be at, I have it in a pretty good place right now.  So tomorrow, when you all go to visit hdrexposed.wordpress.com, you will be taken to the new site.  I’m anxious to hear all of your opinions, so please let me know what you think.

Today’s shot was meant to be a bit symbolic of the setting sun, moving a new site, you get the idea.  I took this last week at a school near our house where my wife and I will go play basketball in the evening sometimes.  I was really impressed with the lack of noise in this shot, as I had forgotten to change my camera settings and was at ISO 1,000.  With my old D40X, if I used ISO 400 I got visible noise, but it seemed like the D700 handled it just fine.

The HDR is made up of 7 handheld brackets processed with Photomatix then edited in CS5.  I did some slight shadow and highlight adjustment to start off with, then added a blue curves adjustment layer for the sky.  Added a very slight Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex as well as a Local Contrast boost and Turbo Boost in onOne PhotoTools.  Added a bit of Clarity as well and called it a day.

See you all on the new site tomorrow.  Take care.


Fight to the finish

How about some good news to start off the day?  Made some great progress on the website last night, so Friday will be the official launch day.  At that time, all traffic will be directed to the new site, which is at www…..actually, why don’t I just wait until Friday.

For today’s shot we head to the Pittsburgh Zoo, where my wife and I went on Sunday to enjoy some of the nice weather we were (and still are) having.  I went about 10 years and had been to the zoo once, and now I have gone three times in the past year.  I really do enjoy it there, partly because you see something new every time you go.  This time was no exception.  The first time we strolled by the tiger cage, all three of them were sleeping, once was rolling around a bit, but nothing exciting.  Since we had to walk by them again on the way out, I thought we should take one more look.  I’m glad we did, because the two cubs were wrestling around and I got some of the best shots I have ever gotten at the zoo.  I think that this one is my favorite, with both of them on their hind legs going after each other.

Just a bit of processing on this one.  Straightened the image and did a little bit of color correction.  Desaturated the greens and saturated the oranges, applied a Tonal Contrast filter as well as a Pro Contrast filter.  Finally, added some Progressive Sharpening in onOne and called it a day.

Two more days til Friday and the new site.  Can’t wait for either.


For my next trick

It’s been a few days since I have been around the blogging world and for that I apologize.  Been a bit busy with the whole holiday weekend, enjoying the nice weather than finally arrived.  I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on my new website, which I am still hoping to have up and live by the end of the week and I’m definitely pretty excited about it.  I’ll keep everyone updated as to the status of it.

Since I missed Candid Monday yesterday, I’ll do a Candid Tuesday, which is kind of like Monday since I wasn’t around yesterday.  We don’t really have a whole lot of street performers in Pittsburgh, except really in Market Square, which is where this was taken.  I wouldn’t even call this guy a street performer, more along the lines of someone with a hoop.  He actually had about five hoops with him with different colors, designs and so on.  I held my camera up to him, and gave a “You mind if I take a few pictures?” look, he shook his head and continued his routine.

Some pretty light processing on this one.  A little bit of color correction and exposure adjustment to bring back some of the blown out areas and also a Tonal Contrast and Pro Contrast filter applied in Color Efex.  Straightened the shot out a bit, added the logo and shared it with you.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that everyone celebrating this weekend had a great Memorial Day.


Open to possibilities

A quick post today, as I have some stuff to wrap up at work before the long holiday weekend.  Website is coming along as well, and I’m still targeting to get it up and running by the end of next weekend but seeing as I’ve never done this kind of thing before, we’ll see.

 

Another shot from the Pirate game I went to a couple weeks ago.  One of my favorite things about PNC Park is the fact that you can see the city skyline from pretty much every seat in the stadium.  This is a view from one of the rotundas leading to the upper levels.

For this I combined 5 handheld exposures in Photomatix, then tonemapped the +2 exposure to mask in both the flag and the people, as they were both obviously moving.  The scoreboard had changed between shots too, so I took the -1 exposure to mask that back in.  Finally, Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast and Progressive Sharpening filters were added, along with a desaturation layer to finish the shot.

I hope all of you who are celebrating Memorial Day (and those of your who aren’t) have a great weekend.  See you on Monday.


Focused on the now

­I don’t normally get too philosophical on my posts, but today I think I might, as this will be a shorter post.

It seems like we (myself included) are always looking ahead, looking forward to something in the future, be it a vacation, a wedding, a graduation, holiday, or simply the weekend.  Most of the time, there is nothing wrong with that at all, especially in regards to major life events, like a wedding or the birth of a child.  Life goes by so quick and when we spend time hoping and waiting for things to come, it can make it go even quicker.  Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and take a look around us to enjoy where we are and what we are doing right now.  If we spend every day just waiting for tomorrow, have we really gotten everything we could out of today?

On to today’s shot, which inspired the sentiment of my blog today.  I’ve taken a shot similar to this in downtown Pittsburgh before, and while I really like it, I took that shot in the middle of the day, so the light was pretty harsh and the background was just ok.  I like this one a lot better, because the background, even though it is out of focus, gives you a wider variety of colors.  I even snuck a sunflare in there, which I didn’t think that I would be able to get at f4.

This is a seven exposure HDR that I laid on the road and blocked traffic to get and then processed in Photomatix.  I had to do a little masking on the upper left and right hand corners of the shot to get rid of minor haloing there.  I boosted overall saturation, as well as added a curves layer of green and yellow to enhance the trees and line on the road.  Finally I added a Tonal Contrast filter (Color Efex) and Turbo Boost filter (onOne PhotoTools) to complete the shot.

Thanks for stopping by guys and gals, see you tomorrow.


Topsy turvy

Well, I finally took the plunge.  Went out a registered a domain and am in the process of completely revamping my blog/website.  I’m not exactly sure how long the whole process is going to take, but I hope to have everything up and running by the end of next week, so stay tuned.  I also wanted to say a big thank you to Chris Frailey, who even got his wife involved in answering some questions I had, and also to Jason Hines and Chris Nitz, who also were able to help me.  All three of these guys are fine photographers; please make sure to check out their sites if you haven’t already.

For today’s shot we head to Delaware Park in Buffalo, New York, where I was on Saturday afternoon for a friend’s wedding, just in attendance, not as the photographer.  On a side note, they had four photographers at their wedding, which I had never seen before.  Anyways, we had about two and half hours to kill between the ceremony and the reception and since it was a beautiful day, we opted to find a park to hang out at.  This was the closest, so we made our way down there.  We saw a bunch of different weddings come through, which was extremely interesting to see, as there were brides, grooms and bridal parties of all makes and models.

This is a five exposure HDR processed with Photomatix and then kicked over the CS5.  I first did an overall curves adjustment, then opened it in onOne PhotoTools.  I applied the WoW Landscape filter and then a slight Firenze filter, to give it the bit of a reddish hue.  Next up was Color Efex, where I added a Pro Contrast filter and the vignette.  Removed a few dust spots, flipped it on its head, and shipped it off to the blog.  Enjoy.

Happy Wednesday everyone and thanks for stopping by.


Cutting through

Thanks for all of you who stopped by on the first candid Monday yesterday.  I think that I keep them going, so look for more in the coming weeks.

Back to the HDRs and sunflares today.  It was kind of an accident how I stumbled across how to do sunflares, and before that I never even though to shoot directly into the sun.  I never really knew that to get those sharp, pinpoint flares early in my photographic/HDR career, I was just taking pictures.  One day I was out on my front porch trying fiddling around with HDRs and after scrolling through my brackets on the LCD I exited out of the menu but kept scrolling, which set my aperture to f22.  I lined up the next shot and fired off the shots, downloaded them on my computer and was a little curious as to why this one shot looked different than the rest.  I checked the EXIF and saw the aperture was f22 and I was hooked.

This particular sunflare is over downtown Pittsburgh during rush hour earlier this month.  I had to wait around for about 10 minutes to get everyone out of the scene, and just when I was ready to take the shot, this kid came and say down on the bench.  After seeing that he wasn’t going to leave, I took the shot anyway, and left him in to give the scene a bit of a human element.  It was pretty windy on this particular day, so I had some motion blur in the trees, which I actually chose not to mask out, the reason being that it made the scene look a little too static for my liking.

This is a 5 exposure handheld HDR processed with Photomatix and then shipped over to CS5.  I added blue, green and red adjustment layers for the sky, grass and trees, respectively, and also added a very slight shadow adjust to bring back some of the buildings, as they were fairly dark.  Ran it though Color Efex to give it a Tonal Contrast filter and that was that.

Take care until tomorrow.


Taking it all in

Happy Monday everyone, I hope that you all had a great and relaxing weekend.  Even if it wasn’t relaxing, I hope that it was still great.  We had two beautiful days in a row here in Pittsburgh, which hasn’t happened for months.  More storms to come this week, but for now, we are enjoying the nice weather.

I was thinking about maybe starting some kind of a theme day on the blog, given that I have posted candids on consecutive Mondays.  I’m not sure how many I will be able to post in a row, as I have a very limited backlog of them, but I’ll give it a shot.  Today, I introduce Candid Mondays.

Back to Mt. Washington we go, to continue with shots from Mothers’ day a few weeks ago.  Like I’ve said before, I had the telephoto lens on for most of the day/evening, trying to branch out from my current wide angle addiction and this is one of the results.  I was heading back down Grandview Avenue, the main drag through the hill top community to get some HDRs from the very overlook that these two were standing on.  Unlike the candid I posted last Monday, which was a hurry up and get the camera up as fast I could shot, this was a little bit easier to capture.

Simple processing here.  Opened the RAW in Photoshop, desaturated the entire image and increased the vibrance.  Brought back some of the saturation of the reds and greens, and increased both the black levels and overall contrast.  Added a very slight Tonal Contrast filter to everything but the sky, a Pro Contrast filter to the entire image, and the Hollywood Effect in onOne software to polish to it.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the inaugural Candid Monday.  Back to the HDRs tomorrow.


Catching some air

So this is my first ever Saturday post.  Well, I think that it is.  If it isn’t my first, then it is definitely my second.

Since today is one of the first nice day’s that we’ve had in weeks, I felt compelled to post a fun, sunny, summer picture, even though it is not technically summer yet.  This will be a quick post and run, as I am heading to a wedding today, not to shoot, just to observe, but I may have to take a few picture anyways.

This is a friend’s boyfriend end, catching some air behind a wakeboard boat.  Believe it or not, he just started wakeboarding at the beginning of the summer, and I think that he caught on pretty fast.  I was actually just starting to get ok myself, but then the summer ended, and the boat got put away.  I’ll have to add that to my list of goals for this summer.

Processing on this one was pretty minor.  Did some slight color adjustments, added a Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex and lightened the shadows on Ed, as he was a bit shadowy.  Added a Progressive Sharpening in onOne and that’s that.

Enjoy your weekends, see you on Monday.


Device confusion

Some weeks seem to take longer to get to Friday, but once it’s here, everything is all right.  Happy Friday everyone.

 

How about something completely different for today?  I’ve been wanting to create this shot for a while now, and even though I took it a few weeks ago, I didn’t get around to processing it until yesterday.  Back in mid March I finally got my iPad 2 (didn’t have the first one) and I wanted to take advantage of the camera that it is equipped with.  Now, just because I have an iPhone, iPod, iPad 2 and an iMac does not make me one of those people who denounce all that technology that is not Apple.  I thoroughly enjoy all my Apple products, but can still see the benefit and advantages of those non Apple devices and have no problem with anyone who uses them.  Not trying to turn this into a Mac vs. PC debate, just wanted to throw my stance out there.

For this scene, I first took a shot of myself holding both my iPhone and iPod.  Easy enough, took me one try.  Now for the tricky part.  I had to take a picture of the iPad in front of me, showing my face on the screen, looking towards one of my other Apple devices.  This took me about half an hour to get right.  I was having problems getting the iPad lined up right where my head didn’t look freakishly small.  I still actually had to do some work in post to enlarge the picture of me holding the iPad, which made the iPad look just a liiiiittle bit bigger than it really is.  Regardless of that, I like how it turned out.

Other than that, just had some fun with filters in Color Efex and onOne PhotoTools.  In CE, I added the vignette and a Tonal Contrast filter, as well as a Pro Contrast one.  In onOne, I applied the Blue Dawn Leonidas, Turbo Boost and a Noir one (can’t remember the exact name).

That’s it for me this week.  See you guys and gals on Monday.


Illuminating

Thank you to everyone who visited my blog yesterday, I had over triple of my average views for the year.  Not exactly sure how this stuff happens sometimes, but I am glad it does.

On to today’s shot.  I took this one a few weeks ago on a little stroll through downtown Pittsburgh.  This is the entrance to the Steel Building or USX Tower right near the center of town.  I was walking by a bit before rush hour and about 45 minutes after I took this shot, the sidewalk in front of the building would have been completely packed with people waiting for rides or buses to come and pick them up.  I really enjoy being downtown at this time of day, because there are so many different sizes and shapes of buildings, that it really filters the light well and you get cool beams coming through like this one.

Usually the camera police come out and tell you that you can’t take pictures in front of the Steel Building (yep, camera, not just tripod, these guys are crazy) and I saw one of the guards eyeing me up, but he was wither too tired to come outside or just didn’t care.  Guess I didn’t look like much of a threat.

Bonus:  Can you spot the guy who just narrowly missed scoring the lead role in “Multiplicity” instead of Michael Keaton?

Pretty standard when it came to processing this one.  Five exposure handheld HDR, processed with Photomatix.  Did a bit of masking to get rid of ghosting from the car on the right and the people in the center (I thought that Multiplicity man was pretty cool).  I had a few slight halos, so I just masked in the -2 exposure for the sky.  Added a red curves adjustment layer to enhance the building and a blue one for the sky.  Also added a Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex, and a Progressive Sharpening and Firenze filter from onOne PhotoTools, the former to, well, sharpen the image and the later to give the sunlight some more glow.  Slapped on the logo and exported to blog.

Thanks for all the support and visits.  See you tomorrow, which is Friday, which is good.


Centurial

Well, today is my 100th post on my blog.  Of the last 99, 26 of them were from 2009 and 2010 combined with the rest coming this year, which is kind of crazy, given the fact that I just started really committing to my blog in late January.  Daily traffic to my blog has tripled since then as well, so I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who is a regular visitor and also those of you who just mosey on by every once and while.  I really appreciate all the support I receive from everyone.  Here’s to another couple hundred.  Or thousand.

 

Today’s shot is one that I really don’t even remember taking.  I mean, I can believe I took it, but as I was looking through my pictures from Mt. Washington I saw it and thought, “Huh”.  So I went ahead and processed it and really liked the way that it came out.  This is a view up the Monongahela River, one of the two rivers that meet at the Point to form the Ohio River.  You also get a view of some of the distinct bridges we have in the city (from bottom to top, excluding the second from the bottom which is the trolley bridge):  Smithfield Street, Liberty, 10th Street and Birmingham.  In the center of the shot you can see the Allegheny County Jail (which you also saw a few posts ago) and in the foreground is the top of the Grand Concourse in Station Square.  Off in the distance is the top of the Cathedral of Learning, the iconic building on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.  All that being said, I think my favorite thing about this shot is the shadow that is created by the city lights of the trolley bridge on the water.  You would normally expect to see reflections, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the shadows.

On to the processing.  This is a seven exposure HDR processed with Photomatix.  It was a bit flat coming out of the tonemapping, so I applied an S curve to bring back some of the contrast.  I applied a Pro Contrast filter in Color Efex, as well as a warming filter in Photoshop to cool the entire image.  In onOne PhotoTools I used the Progressive Sharpening filter to being out some details and the Firenza filter to also cool down the blues.  A bit of spot healing in the sky to get rid of some dust specks and that was that.

Again, thank you for all of your support on my last 100 posts.  I hope that you all will continue to follow me in the future.


Blinded by the light

You know how sometimes when you are out shooting you get home and say to yourself, “I literally do not like any of shots”?  Some may be ok, but most are just like “Eh”.  But then there are the times (at least for me being a primarily HDR photographer) that it’s almost like I want to hurry up and get home and cut the photowalk short because I just want to start processing my images, I am that excited about that.  My little walk on Mt. Washington a few weeks ago was like that, and this shot in particular.

So my last post featured a candid I took as I was wrapping up the early part of my walk, before dinner and this one wraps up the end of the night.  I have been on Mt. Washington countless times since I got my camera and never once noticed this glowing red cross on the church on Grandview.  I’m not sure if it’s because I never really am down this far on Grandview or if I just never looked at it, but when I was walking back to my car, I knew I had to get a shot of it.  Luckily there was still a fair amount of traffic coming through, so I was able to get a nice light trail going through the frame as well.  One of my favorite parts of the shot is the reflection of the light trails along the railing on the right.  I didn’t even notice it at first when I was looking at the shots on the LCD, but as soon as the HDR popped up I noticed them.  I’ve included the selective color version below and am open to suggestions and opinions as to which one you like better.

This a 5 exposure (-1 to +3) HDR processed with Photomatix with all additional edits done in Photoshop CS5.  The first thing I had to do was tonemap the +3 exposure to help lighten the church and then do a light mask on it (25%), as the HDR process made it a little too dark for my liking.  I also used the +2 exposure to mask in some of the light trails, mainly on the left had side of the frame, to give them a more continuous look.  The bright yellow sign was blown out from the +3 exposure, so I used the -1 exposure to recover some of the lost details there.  Next, I added a Pro Contrast filter in Color Efex and a blue curves layer to make the sky a little more vibrant.

To get the selective color, I did a SelectàColor Range and picked all the reds, oranges and yellow, minus the sign in the foreground.  I then used Silver Efex to convert to do the black and white conversion.

That about wraps it up today.  See you again tomorrow.


Young love

I know that this blog is called HDR Exposed, but that doesn’t mean that everything I post has to be HDR.  Today, we take a break from city skylines and Pirate games.  I’ve taken a bunch of candids that I really like recently and may try to throw them in every now and again.

I used to be really intimidated by taking candids.  Afraid of getting caught, looking weird, and really just not quite sure what the best way to go about them was.  My equipment last year wasn’t the most well suited for it either; while I really liked the 55-200 lens for the D40X, it really doesn’t compare to the 70-200 2.8 on a D700.  I got inspired by a couple people on flickr, mainly DJ Poe, who always has incredible street shots of New York City that just have a dynamic cinematic effect to them.  While I haven’t been yet able to really emulate his style, I found that I started to develop a style of my own, a style that fit more of how I shoot.  I also got more comfortable having people see me taking pictures of them and figured how and at what time of day is the best time to photograph candids.  I still have a lot to learn, but I’m getting better each time I go out.

All that being said, more about today’s shot.  I took this on Mother’s Day as I was trekking around Mt. Washington.  There are usually a few people milling around up there, but on that particular Sunday there were quite a few people milling around.  I was getting ready to head back to my sister’s apartment and had just taken my camera off my shoulder to put in my bag when I happened to look up and see these two sitting on a bench in front of me.  I hurried my camera to my eye, all while dexterously zooming to 200mm, turning the camera on, setting the aperture to 2.8 (I was just taking skyline shots at f13), flip the switch to spot focusing and snap the shot.  A half second after I took this shot, she moved her head to look over the city.  Whew.  Just in time.

Even though this isn’t an HDR I still had some processing to do.  Opened in CS5, reduced overall saturation and kicked up vibrance a bit.  Enhanced the shadows and increased global contrast, as well as giving a closer crop to the couple.  I added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex to help give it some local contrast.  In onOne PhotoTools I added a Golden Hour enhancer and a Turbo Boost, to help give the color a tiny kick and the entire image some punch.  Added the logo and shipped it off to the blog.

I hope you all had a great weekend.  See you tomorrow.

Oh, one more thing.  The lady over the girl’s left shoulder?  Yes, that is her stomach hanging out and yes she is holding an iguana.


Stepping up to the plate

A couple more shots from the Bucco game that I went to this Tuesday this time with some action shots thrown in with an HDR. 

The shot above is the view from the rotunda over left field that leads up to the multiple levels of PNC Park.  We got there a little late, about midway through the bottom of the first, and seeing as I have never had my D700 at a Pirate game I wanted to get this shot.  I was a little disappointed that the sky wasn’t clearer when I took this shot, but that’s the beauty of HDR: It can take a flat, otherwise uninteresting sky and turn it into this.

The shot above is probably one of my favorite from the game.  The Pirate pictured is first baseman Steve Pearce, who I had never heard of before this very at bat.  I know, I know, it’s a bit sad, but my favorite MLB team is the Atlanta Braves, so I can’t keep up with the merry-go-round of prospects/rookies/no-names that the Pirates parade through year after year.  Anyways, Pearce hit a soft grounder up the middle of the infield and legged it out for an infield hit.  I was able to capture him JUST as he was hitting first base, with the ball clearly still in the air.  What I found most interesting however, is that you can’t see a single other player in the frame.  It looks like they are all alone on the field.  Didn’t plan it like that, but that’s how it came out.

The next action shot is of catcher Ryan Doumit, who is having a modestly productive year after a couple of slow ones.  A lot of people were calling for his departure from the Bucs, but they kept him around, and he has been consistent so far.  This was one of the last shots that I took, and it shows Doumit just before he made contact.  He didn’t get a hit on this pitch, but he scorched a line drive to the outfield that was caught.

On to the processing.  The HDR is a 5 exposure handheld HDR processed with Photomatix.  As with the last couple, I masked in the entire crowd to get rid of the ghosting.  I also did a bit of masking on the lights, as I was metered on the dark stands (d’oh) and they were a bit blown out.  I added a blue curves layer to the sky to enhance what little blue sky there was, and also a green curves layer to the field to help it stand out.  In Color Efex I used the Tonal Contrast filter, and in onOne PhotoTools I added a Turbo Boost.  What a cool effect name.  Turbo Boost.

I processed the action shots similarly.  Both were opened in Camera Raw where I increased the clarity and desaturated the images.  Moved them over the CS5 where I added a Tonal Contrast later to both of them, increased then vibrance, and opened them in onOne PhotoTools.  They both got the same Progressive Sharpening, and I added an extra filter to the second one of Ryan Doumit at bat, the Hollywood Intensity.  Pretty happy with how they turned out.

That’s all for this week folks.  Hope you all have a great weekend.  See you on Monday.


The baseball blues

There seem to be very few teams throughout the history of professional sports that have experienced the fall from grace the way that the Pirates have.  And I’m not just talking about missing the playoffs for a few years in a row, or not making it to the World Series.  There are teams with longer World Series droughts than the Buccos 32 years (Indians 63 years, Padres, Rockies, Astros, Rangers and a few others, never).  I’m talking about the fact that it has been nearly twenty longer years since the Pirates have won more games than they lost in a single year.  Nearly two decades since they have finished with a winning percentage above .500.  The closest they have come was in 1997, when they finished 79-83, a mere 2 games away.

There seemed to be a slight glimmer of hope this year, as they have hovered around the .500 mark for most of the year, and that’s where they were the night that I attended this game.  However, they got stomped 10-3 at the hands of the Dodgers, and then were shut out again last night.  The problem with the most recent Pirates teams is they have no star power, no game changers, no one who is really dangerous.  They have young players who show a lot of potential like Andrew McCutcheon, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but chances are they will not win you a World Series.  Pirate’s ownership has said that when fans start coming to games they will invest more money in the team.  Well that’s a catch 22, because if they don’t field a competitive team, you aren’t going to get many people to come to game.  While I am not a huge fan of the salary cap in other sports, I think it would be the only way (under the current management) for the Pirates to start winning again.

Anyways, on to today’s shot.  I have a bunch to post from the game, but I wanted to start off with this one.  The seats we had were pretty good, about ten rows off the first base line, which afforded me some great picture opportunities.  I took this one a little bit later in the game, when some clouds had rolled in and the blue hour was upon us.  PNC Park is a beautiful stadium, especially with the view of the Pittsburgh skyline in the distance, which is what I was trying to capture with this shot.

This is a 5 exposure handheld HDR that I processed in Photomatix.  I actually had originally taken 7 brackets, but the -3 and -2 exposures were a bit too dark, so I ended up using the -1 to +3 range.  I tonemapped the +2 exposure to mask in the entire crowd, as you can imagine no one was kind enough to sit still while I took these.  I also used the 0 EV exposure to mask in the players on the field and the coaches, as they were just shifting a tiny bit.  The last mask I added was over the scoreboard so it looked crisp and clear.  I added a curves layer for the blues and greens to help bring out the sky and the field respectively, and also added a Tonal Contrast and Pro Contrast filters in Color Efex.  Logo added, good to go.

More Buccos shots coming tomorrow.  Make sure you stick around.


Permanent residence

So I went to my second Pirates game of the year last night, actually it was my second in less than a month, which hasn’t happened in years.  The first game I went to was great; there was a beer tasting before the game, they Buccos jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first and they ended up winning.  Last night?  Not to much.  Got stomped by the Dodgers 10-3, and looked very much like the sub-.500 ball club that they’ve looked like for the last 20 years, taking up permanent residence in the bottom half of the standings.  I did, however, get a ton of great shots, which I will share with you in the next few days.

For now, how about another view of the city?  This is more of what I was talking about yesterday in taking a different approach to shooting from Mt. Washington.  In the center of this shot is actually the new Allegheny County Jail (by new I mean newer), which is right along the parkway that leads you out of the ‘Burgh to the east.  I thought that it was pretty cool how you can see four different levels of streets, two above the jail and two below it, and light trails on all of them.  The street that I find the most interesting is the one that is directly behind the jail, as it is one continuous streak all the way along the road.  The three bridges you see here are (in order from bottom to top) the Liberty Bridge, which takes you to the South Hills (where I live), the 10th Street Bridge (which takes you from the end of the South Side to downtown) and the Birmingham Bridge, which also connects the South Side to the bottom of Oakland, where the University of Pittsburgh is located.  The bridge at the very bottom of the frame isn’t a bridge for cars; it connects the trolley line from Station Square to downtown Pittsburgh.

This is a seven exposure HDR processed in Photomatix and Photoshop CS5.  I first tonemapped the +2 exposure to get the light trails I wanted and masked in all the roads.  I did a color cast removal of the blues/purples in Color Efex as well as add a Tonal Contrast layer.  In onOne PhotoTools I added a sharpening layer and another filter tha cooled the reds and warmed the blues.  Finally, I did some selective coloring on the reds (decreased saturation) and the greens (increased vibrance and saturation).  Added the logo and uploaded.

Halfway there guys.  Friday will be here soon.  Until tomorrow though, adios.


Bringing your own sunshine

“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”
~Anthony J. D’Angelo

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a Friday post so I thought it was about time to do one.  This spring we have had 34 days of rain and only 14 without (and even fewer sunny ones), I thought about the above quote and how appropriate it seemed for anyone living in the western Pennsylvania region over the last few weeks.

I took this shot on one of those few sunny days we’ve had this spring walking around downtown, waiting for the wife and some friends to get out of work.  It was actually a perfect day to go on a photowalk, as it wasn’t too warm, there was a slight breeze, the lighting was great in downtown, streets weren’t overly crowded for a Thursday afternoon.  I kind of have a thing for capturing sunflares, and when the reflection of one in the USX Building caught my eye, I couldn’t resist the shot.

This is a five exposure HDR processed in Photomatix, Photoshop CS5 and onOne PhotoTools.  I did a bit of masking in the sky to get rid of a few halos and dust spots, as well as masked in the cars on the lower right to get rid of some ghosting.  Lowered overall saturation and applied the Turbo Boost effect in PhotoTools and called it a wrap.

Thanks for stopping by this week and I hope you all enjoy your weekend.


Back into the fire

At least for today, we will be making a trip back to Carrie Furnace.  I know that I’ve been jumping around a lot lately, but I feel like sometimes I will go to process an image and think, “Eh, not really feeling this one today”.  Then I’ll see the exact same set of brackets a week later and say to myself “Why the hell haven’t I processed this yet?!?!”  Well, I’ve been doing that a lot lately, especially after my recent upgrade to Photomatix.  I’ve been going back to shots that I wasn’t crazy about the result out of HDR Efex that I now love out of Photomatix.  So because of this I’ve been all over the place lately.  Which I am fine with.  Gives you a bit of variety.

This first shot (and today’s official post) is the view of one of the, um, one of the, uhh, I have no idea really.  Maybe it’s one of the actual furnaces?  All I know it is looked pretty cool in person and even cooler in HDR.  Mike, aka Theaterwiz posted this same view a few weeks ago, check out his work if you have a chance, you won’t be disappointed.  One of the coolest things about Carrie Furnace was all the graffiti.  If really cut through all the rust and stuck out like a sore thumb, adding some pop to every scene.  The processing was fairly straightforward on this one.  It is a seven exposure HDR processed with Photomatix and given a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.  I like processing scenes like this sometimes because you don’t have to worry about dust spot removal, halos, etc; you can be a bit more over the top with it.

I wanted to share a bit of a different view as well, just slightly to the left of the first shot.  I decided to go B&W for this one, and I even mulled over the selective coloring.  I sometimes have a tendency to overdo that effect, so after processing it with HDR Efex I gave it a run through Silver Efex to see how it would turn out and ended up being pretty happy with the result.  Maybe I’ll start doing a bit more in B&W.

Ahh, Thursday.  Hope you all enjoy yours.


Shallow steps

This morning I added another piece to my photo editing arsenal which already includes Color Efex, Silver Efex, HDR Efex, Photomatix, Photoshop CS4 and CS5 and now…the onOne Photo Suite.  I’m pretty excited, especially because yesterday morning I had never even heard of the software, downloaded it last night and get the license before the sales expired.  Definitely worth picking up, as you can save over $150 right now.  Sale said it ended yesterday, but it’s still on their website this morning.

Onto to today’s shot.  I just have one upload today, but I wanted to thank all of you who visited my Seas of gold post yesterday.  I think that I am going to be in the market for a fisheye lens soon, as I really liked the way that the Heinz Field panorama turned out.  I may rent one first, just to make sure that I like it.  And so I have something to pass the time before mine gets here.

This is a shot that I took a few weeks ago while moseying through downtown on one of the first nice days we’ve had in Pittsburgh this spring.  In the Steel City, we don’t have a subway, but we do have a trolley.  It’s a bit limited on where you can take it to and from, unless you live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, which I do.  If that’s the case, then you are good to go.  There are about four stops within a mile of my house, the T (as it is affectionately known) will take you to Station Square or one of four other locations downtown.  This shot is of one of those stops, well, at least the steps down to one of the stops.

One thing that I like about the 16-35 lens is the slight distortion you get at the wide end, which you can clearly see here on the first few steps.  Also, for just being an f4 lens, the depth of field and bokeh can be quite good as well.  When I got my D700 I tossed around the idea of getting the 14-24, which I may end up eventually getting, but I didn’t like the idea of having to lug around a camera that had the lens hood permanently attached.  I know, I know, a fisheye has one attached as well, but the 14-24 is a bit of a monster.

Anyways, this is a five exposure HDR processed with Photomatix.  Just did some slight curves adjustments and added a little vignette to bring the focus to the center of the image.

Catch everyone tomorrow, and thanks for the visits.


Seas of gold

So against every instinct I have in regards to professional football, this weekend I attended the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Blitz.  And you know what?  It ended up not being too bad.

Let me say this.  I didn’t always used to be so anti-Steeler; in fact, I even used to have a Steeler shirt.  I think it was something about former fullback Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala (yes, I 100% had to look up how to spell that).  But somewhere, somehow, I grew to utterly despise a few current and former Steeler players, and it really has just snowballed since then.  See, I am a Cowboys fan, and although we’ve had it rough the past couple years, this is the year we are turning it around.  Just wait.

Both of today’s shot are different views of Heinz Field from last Saturday.  One of the cool things about being down at the Fan Blitz was that you got to walk on the field.  They had drills and events for the kids and field goal kicking for everyone else.  I took the shot above right at the corner of the open end zone, looking towards the rest of the field.  I know that it is a little crooked, but I liked that you could see a father and son posing by the goal post, and if I straightened it, then it would have cropped out half their legs.  This is a five exposure handheld HDR that I processed with Photomatix.  I masked in the bottom third of the shot to correct all the ghosts as a result of the people moving.

Today’s official shot is a different view of the field.  I took this from the second level after one of the autograph sessions.  Oh yeah, I completely forgot to mention that.  While I was there, I took a 20×30 HDR of Heinz Field that I had shot last fall in for the former players to sign and ended up getting 13 autographs.  Pretty cool.  We also ate lunch with former linebacker Andy Russell, who said that in his first year in the league he made $12,000.  And now the players and owners are fighting of $9 billion.  Unreal.  Anyways, this is a nine shot panorama, with each shot being made up of a five exposure HDR, something that I hadn’t done before, at least not on this magnitude.  It ended up looking pretty much the way I wanted it, although try as I may I couldn’t get the bit of grey in the sky over the middle part of the stadium fixed.  Still happy with it.

That’s all for today folks.  See you tomorrow.


Shining and bright

As well all probably know by now, the world got a little brighter yesterday, as US forces finally were able to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden.  I don’t need to say very much else about it, because we all know what a great day this is, and, as President Barack Obama put it, “welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity”.

In the spirit of the happiness that hundreds of millions of people around the world are feeling, I thought that I would continue the theme with a bright and colorful shot.  Flowers aren’t usually my thing, but as I was walking around downtown a few weeks ago, camera in hand, on one of the few nice days we’ve had recently, I saw this tree that was flowering right near the USX Tower.  The late afternoon light was hitting it just right, so I composed the sun just out of the scene and fired off the shot.  The reason that I didn’t do a sunflare on this HDR is that I wanted to get some nice bokeh, and had I included the sunflares in the image, I would have had to use an aperture of f14 or higher, which would have destroyed my depth of field.  I’m a huge fan of what the wide angle 16-35 f4 lens does in scenes like this, the object is close to the camera.

For the processing on this one, I took the middle exposure and tonemapped it in Photomatix 4.  Even HDR Efex couldn’t handle the alignment on this one, as the wind was blowing the branches all over the place.  After applying my usual HDR settings, I masked in the entire sky of the -2 exposure, as it was a bit blown out on the 0 EV shot.  I selected the sky using the “Color Range” option, which allows me to just select a certain range of colors, making it much easing to just mask in the sky.  I also applied both a Tonal Contrast filter (very slight) and Pro Contrast filter to give the image that final pop.

That’s all for my post today.  I spent Saturday at Heinz Field, so I have a few shots from there I will be posting this week.

USA.  USA.  USA.


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.


Colorfully optimistic

Well, tonight is the big game.  Game 7.  Pens-Bolts.  I’ll be there, losing my voice.  That’s all I’m going to say about that right now.  Though I just have a feeling…

A few more to round out the Allegheny College tour.  I’ll tell you what.  Meadville, the northwestern PA town where Allegheny is located, may not be much to look at it, but the actual college in the fall is just incredible.  I was actually a bit worried when I was going up to Allegheny to shoot this series that the trees wouldn’t have enough color on them for me to get the shots that I wanted.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Above is the administration building close to the center of campus, Bentley Hall.  I loved the way that the trees faded in color across the scene from green to red with just a hint of sunlight peaking in.

Next is one of the many colorful paths at on campus, this one right between the campus center and the library, which you can see off in the distance.  I was able to get to this location early enough in the day where the sun was still low in the sky, so half the path was in light and half in shadow.  The leafs laying on the hill next to the path added a nice element as well.

Finally, today’s shot.  This is Carr Hall, the math building on campus.  This is another one that I had originally passed up while processed this series with HDR Efex, but went back at it one more time with Photomatix.  I thought it that it was pretty cool how the sky seems to just continue around the building when you look at the reflection.  I normally don’t oversaturate colors like I did here, but for some reason I did, and I am happy with the result.

I’ve gotta feeling…that tonight’s gonna be a good night…