HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “pittsburgh pirates

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.

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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.


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

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

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

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

PNC Park

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

Heinz Field

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

Civic Arena

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

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

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