HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “pittsburgh steelers

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.

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A little bit of everything

Back and blogging after what seemed like too short of a weekend.  Attended an ‘80s themed birthday party this weekend.  Let’s just saying that it was…interesting.  I did take a whole bunch of pictures, but I’m not sure I’ll be sharing them on here.  People have reputations that they probably want to protect.

Today is going to be somewhat of a catch up day on HDR Exposed, as Mondays usually are.  I have a variety of pictures you post, seeing that I unconsciously post more random pictures on the weekend that during the week.  Actually, I’m not sure if it has something to do with having more time on the weekend to take a look through my “For Flickr” folder than I have on my hard drive and pick out an interesting one, compared to the weekday, where I’m a bit more rushed and more or less just pick a random one from there.  The backlog of shots is getting a little low, so I may need to get out shooting sometime soon.  I’d like to do some street candids in Pittsburgh on a Friday or Saturday night, but I think that it is still a little too cold out for that.  We even got more snow yesterday.  I’m about ready for spring to come around, when we can leave the doors and the windows open and you don’t feel so cramped and stuffy in your own house.  Soon, very soon, spring is coming.

On to the shots.  The first shot is a candid that I took while we were in New York, on Friday morning during the AM rush hour.  Speaking of it being cold, it was absolutely FREEZING that morning, but I think at the time I took this shot my fingers hadn’t frozen yet.  I was getting ready to cross the street in front of Radio City Music Hall when I saw this lady crossing the street.  I captured her right when she was kind of making this goofy expression which just added to the shot.  The only thing I didn’t capture was a perfectly crisp shot.  Since it was so early and my first couple shots had been with a tripod, I hadn’t adjusted my ISO yet, so there was a little motion blur.  I touched that up with Topaz InFocus then ran it through my typical cinematic processing steps, or at least my version of it.  Decreased overall saturation, did a selective coloring adjustment on the red in her coat and the greens in the sign and bush.  Added a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex and the pillbox to finish it up.

Next is my post from yesterday.  This is another early morning shot, except this one is from the Steel City (Pittsburgh, just in case) a few Saturdays ago.  Equally as cold but with the element of wind too.  Fun stuff.  Took this one soon after I arrived downtown, and my initial plan was the head over the Clemente Bridge.  Well, I made it about this far, took the shot, then turned around, because the wind was really whipping across the water.  So I took my seven bracketed shots and moved on.  This is a view from the Clemente Bridge looking down the Allegheny River towards the Rachel Carson Bridge and Convention Center, which you can just see the first light of day starting to come up behind.

For the processing, pretty standard to all the rest of the shots in this series.  A seven shot HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Natural” method.  Adjusted sliders accordingly, then kicked it over the Photoshop and Color Efex.  I masked in the enter sky of the -2 exposure, with some minor adjusting to the original shot.  Desaturated the reds in the roads and from the lamps, as the D700 has a bit of problem sometimes with white balance.  Masked out a corner of a piece of the bridge in the upper left and finally added a Low Key filter to the entire shot from Color Efex.

On to today’s shot, which I will be posting a little later today on flickr.  This is a panorama that I took last Wednesday on the far end of Mt. Washington in the late afternoon.  I had some time to kill before heading to friend’s for the Penguin game.  I had actually seen this exact shot, as someone in my office had it hanging in their office, so I think I would give it a try.  I would have liked to do the panorama with my 70-200 zoom, but all I had was the 16-35 with me, so I took it at 35mm.  On the right you can see the Point and the city of Pittsburgh and how high the water is.  We got a lot of rain early last week, which caused all three rivers to rise, shutting down parking lots and some areas of the North Shore and the Point.  I really like this vantage point too, because you can see the Monongahela River on the right, the Allegheny on the left, and where they converge to form the Ohio.  Pretty cool stuff.  On the left you can see Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On to the processing.  This is a panorama of three 5 exposure HDRs, stitched together in CS5.  The HDRs were created under in HDR Efex under the “Subtle” HDR method, as I didn’t want to go too heavy handed on the HDR since I was making a panorama.  I didn’t like the way the sky looked, so I masked in the entire sky on all three HDRs.  Adjusted the yellows of the bridges and Heinz Field to make them stand out and desaturated the browns of the lifeless trees to make them not to distracting.  Lastly I corrected the skyline and gave the overall shot some definition in iPhoto.

Whew.  I’m exhausted.  But today you got a little bit of everything, candids, regular HDRs and panorama HDRs.  What more could you want?


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

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

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

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

PNC Park

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

Heinz Field

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

Civic Arena

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

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

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


In different directions

There’s something about Monday morning that just feels so wrong, especially on days when there is a torrential rain/thunderstorm going on outside.  Especially after a weekend where it was starting to warm up, got a chance to relax, the sun was out.  Ugh.  That’s all I can say about that.

Today I’m going to fall into the category of typical photoblog as I have some catching up to do in regards to pictures that I’ve posted on my flickr photostream.  Since I like to walk through how I do my processing, and with three pictures that I spent a decent about of time on, I want to make sure that I cover everything.  In conjunction with that thought, I will be putting together a Photoshop Effects Tutorial Page where I go through some of the most common processes that I do, like High Pass Sharpening, the Orton Effect, to name a few.  Yes, some of them are pretty simple, but when I was first figuring out what the heck I was doing when it came to Photoshop, I always had a ton of browser windows open because no one website seemed to have them.  I’m not saying that mine will either, however, it will give you a place to go to if I say I used a certain effect in my processing, you can jump to that page and see how it was done.  I’m hoping to have it up by next week.

So on to some shots.  No not that kind.  Although Monday morning probably would be a good time to start taking some.  Might make the day go by a bit quicker.  The first one is something that I don’t normally do, one that I’ve posted only seven of them as the subject in the 1,040+ of the pictures I have on flickr.  Flowers.  Yep.  I don’t mean multiple Marc Andre Fleurys (he’s called the Flower because of Fleury, fleur-de-lis, ok, ok, you got it).  I got Dana a bouquet of flowers for her birthday a few weeks ago (lucky for me she doesn’t like red roses) so I thought I would see if I could have some fun with them.

Through on the 50 mm 1.4 and shot away.  No HDRs, just a single exposure.  First I cropped the image, as there was a chair in the bottom right hand corner.  Put it in Color Effex and added a Glamour Glow Filter and then ran it through again and added a Pro Contrast filter.  Even though the focus was on the center flower (nope, don’t ask, have NO idea what it is), and I did get some nice bokeh (we’ve talked about that already, out of focus part of the picture), I still added a vignette to bring out the center.  At first I was a bit upset that I got the window (blue part) in the back of the frame, but that I unded up doing a curves level on the window to help bring out the blue even more.  Increased the vibrance and the purples in the image, and I liked the way it turned out.

Image number two of the day is from the early Saturday morning photowalk I took last week.  I haven’t really been too successful getting pictures of the moon in HDR, they always end up very blown out.  Well, on this  particular morning, the moon was huge in the sky, so I thought I would give it the old college try.  First attempt (which I will post in the a few days because I still like the shot) was no good.  Second attempt (which I won’t post), was worse.  Finally, I decided to head over the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, as I wanted to get the sunrise from the North Shore.  The moon was hanging in the valley between the two hills of Mt. Washington, with Heinz Field on the right, and I thought that I would go for one more.  Seven exposures later and I got what I wanted.

Merged the images using HDR Efex, using the Clean HDR Method.  I ended up masking in the entire sky from the -2 exposure, as I didn’t really like the colors that I was getting from the HDR, they weren’t what I remember seeing, and this was.  I also took the -3 exposure and masked in just the mood, just to the point where you can see the darker parts that you can see with the naked eye.  Added an overall saturation layer to the entire image, and then I had to go to work on the grass.  Grass and winter really don’t mix, and the section below the stadium was pretty brown.  I did a Color Select on the shades of grass, then did a Curves adjustment on the greens to bring them out to add some pop to the image.  I also did a Color Select on the yellow seats of the stadium to bring them out a bit more.  Added a Tonal Contrast in Color Efex and finally a High Pass Sharpening Filter and I was good to go.

Lastly, today’s shot.  So after I took the previous shot, finished walking across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, got a few shots right off the bridge, I made my way up past PNC Park, where I wanted to get the sunrise.  They are currently doing construction on the Riverwalk, so I had to divert and actually walk past the stadium.  The glow of the sun was just coming up in the corner by the home of Pirates, and the wide angle gave it almost a fish eye look.  I set up shop right in front of JP “Honus” Wagner and snapped away.

Combined the seven exposures in HDR Efex with the Natural setting and then kicked it over to Photoshop.  Once again, I wasn’t overly pleased with the sky, so I masked in the entire -2 exposure.  I also had to mask in a little bit of the top of the stadium, mostly the steel beams on top, to bring back some of the detail.  Again, I increased overall saturation, and also added an extra blue Curves layer for the rest of the sky.  Applied a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex and another High Pass Sharpening Filter and called it a day.

Well, I know that was more than I usually go through, especially on a Monday morning, but I wanted to make sure that I had everything covered.  I also know that I made no reference to the title.  I really did mean to.  I was trying to play on the Steelers and Pirates stadiums, Pirates worst in the league for 18 seasons, Steelers made it to the Super Bowl again, etc., etc..  Also for the fact that I posted something other than a wide angle cityscape.

One more thing.  Alexei Kovalev of the Pittsburgh Penguins?  A goal in regulation and then the shootout winner on Saturday night.  Welcome home Kovy.

See you all tomorrow.


Policing the ice

So my goal of this blog was not to become a Penguins centric blog, as there are already multiple Pens’ blogs out there.  The original goal was to post some pictures and talk a little more in depth about the shot than I do on flickr.  However, as I am trying to blog everyday (well, every weekday), it can get a bit boring and repetitive if I am just saying “Here’s this shot, this is how I took it” and so on, and that it is.  That being said, I’ve tried to add a bit more commentary to my posts to hopefully keep those of your who make the daily (or weekly or monthly) trek to my blog a bit more enjoyable, because if it was just the same pictures I posted on flickr, then you wouldn’t have any reason to come here.  I will say this.  I have a ton of respect now for newspaper columnists, who have to write every day, though it is a bit easier for them, as the majority of the time they are reporting on news.  They are still writing everyday for their job.  I do it just for fun.  Which I think makes it a bit easier.

Anyways, moving on to more exciting topics: Geno (Evgeni Malkin) is back tonight for the Pens.  Oh wait.  I realized I never finished my though on the Pens’ blog thing.  See that’s what happens to me when I write these.  I get off on one tangent and forgot where I parked the firs tangent to get back in and keep going.  I think that if you are going to write every day about something, it should be something you are passionate about, because otherwise it won’t be interesting.  I am passionate about the Penguins and my photography, so it is very easy for me to write semi creatively about these two things.  So while you won’t see Pens’ stuff up every day on here, you will see it.  Like yesterday and today.

So Geno’s back, but our stellar rookie center, Mark Letestu, is out four to six weeks for a damaged meniscus from catching an edge on the ice at Madison Square Garden in New York before the Ranger’s game on Tuesday.  With Sid the Kid still out recovering from a concussion, it’s great to see Malkin back out there policing the ice (reference to title #1).  It means that the opponent has to plan for a superstar and match their lines up accordingly, and just makes it more difficult to get the matchups they want.  I’m not saying this demean anything else any of the Pens have done, quite the contrary actually.  The depth that we have is some of, if not THE best in the NHL, which has allowed us to gain points in the standing even without the “two headed monster” (Sid and Geno) in the line up.  One quick note on the aforementioned phrase.  HDR Exposed (aka me) does not condone the use of this saying…actually it is quite discouraged.  Just wanted to use it once, get it out of the way, and never use it again.  ‘Nough said.

Even though I foster incredible disdain for the Steelers, I would remiss in my blogging duties if I did not at least MENTION the Super Bowl in a few days.  Packers vs. Steelers, NFC vs. AFC, the game of all games, the big game, Super Sunday, and all that jazz.  I will be attending a party with a whole lot of Steeler faithful.  I will also be wearing a Dallas Cowboy jersey.  Probably Tony Romo…maybe Miles Austin.  Not sure yet.  But I will say this.  Steeler fans are in for a rude awakening.  Their beloved defense (which is incredible) is going to fall hard.  Prediction: Packers 31, Steelers 10, Aaron Rodgers throws for 320 yards and is MVP.  Ben Roethlisberger throws two picks and fumbles, and the Packers defense lives up to its billing.  Let’s go Pack.  Now, where is my cheesehead?

Almost forgot about today’s shot with all my other rambling.  More from NYC.  Another one taken on our last day there, which I think I got my most shots from.  I had been trying to get a shot of Bryant Park that I liked; I was trying to use the reflections in the buildings and had tried three other times and got nothing.  This was my final attempt, and as we were walking across the street, I stopped to grab this five exposure HDR.  Of course, the light turned green right when I stopped and this cop car was right in the middle of the road (reference to title #2).  I just said ok, forget, I got a ton of other shots.  But…

…then I got home and processed it.  Did my usual settings in HDR Efex, and thought to myself, “This isn’t too bad”.  Took it back into CS5, masked in the moving people and the police car, applied a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex, burned the sky right about the horizon to give it that orange glow, boosted the blues to make the police car stand out, and while it isn’t one of my best, in the end, I like it!

That’s all for this week guys!  I hope you all have a great weekend!

Did I mention Go Packers yet?  I did?  Ok, well, GO PACKERS!!!!!!!  Yes, I’m done now.


In the thick of it…

Back after a couple days off of posting over the weekend!  I guess for the city of Pittsburgh it was a great weekend, at least in regards to our professional sports teams.  I can only take joy in one of those wins and that is obviously the Penguins.  The Steelers (somehow) managed to win the AFC Championship game, even after they tried so desperately hard to lose it in the second half.  Of course, when you have that pathetic of a first half as the Jets did, you don’t really deserve to win.  Give Mark Sanchez some credit though.  He was able to bounce back and at least semi-make a game out of it.  It seems that every team I root for this postseason loses, but I’m gonna say it anyways…Let’s go Packers in the Super Bowl!

Today’s shot.  Well, yesterday’s shot, but I like it so I am going to post it today.  This is one of the last HDRs that I took while we were in New York on Sunday on our way back to our hotel.  I was actually surprised at how busy it was for a Sunday evening there.  I would have thought that most of the people (like us!) were getting ready to pack up and leave.  That being said, we were getting ready to leave and we still were out and about.  Don’t you love it when you think of the perfect example of something that just completely destroys the argument you just made?  Anyways, I wanted to get this shot of the West Side Story billboard as that is the musical we went to see and it was the first one I had ever been to, which is reasonably exciting.  It was a great shot and next time we are in New York we will definitely be going back (not to West Side Story, but some kind of show).

Technical time.  This particular HDR is a 5 exposure handheld one at ISO 500 and f4.  I went 16mm on this to make sure that I captured the whole scene, from the signs on the buildings to the guy taking a picture in front.  Put it through HDR Efex (which a “Bright Soft” HDR Method for those may ask) then over the Photoshop.  Decreased overall saturation then bumped up the red in the signs a bit.  Masked in pretty much the bottom ¼ of the scene with the 0 exposure compensation shot to get rid of the myriad of ghosts that had invaded this picture.  Added a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex and last, but certainly not least, a high pass filter for a bit of sharpening, and there ya go!

Pretty excited about tonight by the way!  There is a Penguins autograph session at one of local malls that I signed up for.  This is the third one that I will be going to, and it’s always cool to meet some of the guys!

I hope that you all have a great week!


Say it’s not snow!

Another day, another 7 inches of snow.  Above is a shot I took out my car window this morning.  Not that I mind it all, I really don’t.  Ok, maybe a little bit.  It’s kind of a pain to put on boots, then put on gloves, then a jacket, a hat, heat up the car, scrape the car.  Summer is nice in that you can throw on sandals, a t shirt shorts, hop in the car, put the windows down and crank “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry instead of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey because you really have to believe that winter will end.

 What really gets me chapped (pun intended) is the wind.  It blows the snow around that you just shoveled, it makes it feel 20 degrees colder than it is, and just is plain annoying.  This morning I was shoveling and I went to throw a shovel full over our retaining wall when a gust of wind decided to kick up at that exact second and blow it all back onto me.  I couldn’t have been more happy.

 Anyways, onto to today’s shot.  If you remember yesterday I said that I took a little walk around Times Square early in the morning because my better half got out of bed.  This was the last shot I took before I went back to the hotel.  A bit touristy (I didn’t know that that was actually a word until spell check didn’t catch it…wow!) I know, but I had to.  I got the night shot, had to get the day one.  Well, morning at least.  So I made my way to the top of the little bandstand/bleacher type thing in the middle, braced myself against the back railing (careful not to fall over or, more importantly, not to drop my camera over…I have insurance…the D700 doesn’t) and click-click-click-click-cliick, five exposures later, I had my obligatory TS shot.

 Now the processing.  I was happy with the shot in camera, nice shadows and highlights for the HDR.  Put in onto the iMac, ran it through HDR Efex (tutorial coming soon, I promise) and said “Eh”.  I mean, it’s ok.  But nothing that wowed me.  So I took it over the Color Efex, added a Tonal Contrast Filter, a Low Key Filter, a Warming Filter in CS5 and some definition in iPhoto, and now I like it!  Of course, I had to mask in just a touch of a halo around the top of the buildings and the people/cars (though not so much the cars, as they weren’t really moving).  And this is what I got!

Oh, Pens lost last night.  Shut out by the last place Devils.  That’s embarrassing.  But, no Sid or Geno to speak of, so it’s not all that bad.  They had never played a game where both of them were out of the line up at once.  Now they have, and let’s hope they never do it again.

 One more thing.  I know I’m from Pittsburgh, but I have one thing to say…

 J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS!!!!!!

 I hope you all have a great and Pittsburgh Steeler-less weekend!