HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “snow

A bitter night

One of the great things about living in western Pennsylvania is that we have four very distinct seasons.  Unlike a lot of the northern or southern states where it either states cold or warm for most of the year, we see a gradual transition from winter to spring to summer to fall.  We get to experience a white Christmas, flowers blooming, barbeques and fireworks and beautiful fall foliage that is painted throughout the region.  However, one of the worst things about living in western Pennsylvania is that we have four very distinct seasons.  Summer and fall I’m more or less okay with, it’s just the end of winter/beginning of spring that really get me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love snow as much as the next guy, but when it dumps eight inches during rush hour on a Monday night in late February, that I can do without.  It’s not so much all the snow we got, but the fact that yesterday morning it started out as a torrential downpour of rain.  Then, eleven hours later, we have a little blizzard that locks up most of the city.

There is something eerily calm about the snow.  I spent the better part of two hours last night unburying both my driveway and a few of my neighbors and when the wind died down it was a very serene mood.  The street lamps were glowing warm light that was being diffused by the falling snow, there wasn’t anyone on the road and it was just quiet.  You could not tell where one person’s yard ended and another began.  You couldn’t even tell where the yard ended and the street began.  A plow truck hadn’t been through in over an hour, so the road was completely covered again.  I found myself just standing there, with ice forwards on my hair and gloves, taking it all in.  And for as much as I do not really like to spent until midnight shoveling and being freezing cold, it was oddly peaceful.

Some shots from the storm, all taken with the S95.

View down my street

Before shoveling

Front walkway

Shoveled path in HDR

Now to completely switch gears.  Yesterday’s post was all about the Winter Classic and the matchup between the Penguins and the Capitals.  Well, the Pens lost (title reference #2), in a hard fought, 1-0 game.  I can’t be too upset, as the goalie for the Capitals, Michal Neuvirth, played an outstanding game.  Since I talked hockey, I didn’t get a chance to post my picture from flickr.  I’ll make up for that today, since they are the same subject.  Heading back to New York.  On the Friday we were we spent a lot of time doing some of the touristy things,  like Grand Central, Central Park, FAO Schwartz and the New York Public Library.  I hadn’t planned on stopping at the library, but since we were so close and we hadn’t been there before, I thought that it would be worth a quick peak.  We made one lap around and then headed on our way.

The first shot is the front of the library.  It was a bit of a pain to process because of all the people walking around in front.  I just wish for one second I could get everyone to stand still so I could take the picture.  I think for all the HDR photographers out there, we should be given a remote to stop people as we please.  Just a thought.  Anyways, it is a five shot handheld HDR, and HDR Efex did a decent job of cutting down the ghosting.  I had to tonemap the +1 image to mask in all the people, and I also did a 100% mask of the -2 exposure for the sky.  Desaturated the reds a bit, added a blue curves layer to the sky and applied a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.  Lastly did some high pass sharpening.

For today’s flickr post, we have one of the hall ways inside the library.  Same issue with the ghosts here.  Five exposure handheld, tonemapped the the +2 image for the people and masked them in.  Then I tonemapped the -2 and masked in the window at the back of the scene, as I was metered on the shadows and the window was very blown out.  Added a slight blur around the edge of the frame to put the focus on the center and finally added a Tonal Contrast filter.

That’s all for today my friends.  See you tomorrow.


A different perspective

Back after a bit of break from the blogging world.  I hope that everyone had a great weekend, as I know I did!  Watched the Pens come back and win on Friday, celebrated the wife’s birthday and Saturday then watched the Steelers play a pathetic game and lose the Super Bowl Sunday.  I was probably one of only people in the city who was absolutely ecstatic over the Steeler loss.  We were at a good friend’s house for the game who is a die hard Steelers fan, and it was everything I could do to not be jumping up and down and screaming.  But, I have been harassed my entire life for being a Cowboys fan, so I thought I would just enjoy that moment in silence.  I couldn’t wait to get in the car to leave and start cheering!  All in all a good time.  I was a bit under the weather yesterday morning and was also pretty busy at work so I wasn’t able to post anything.  Don’t worry though.  No more months at a time between posts.  Like I’ve said before, I’m kind of digging this posting everyday!

Today will be more strictly about photography that my normal rantings and ravings about who knows what.  Part of it is the fact that I am still pretty busy at work and trying to play a bit of catch up today, and the other piece is because I am a day behind in my posts!  We’ll start with a shot that I posted yesterday but took a few weeks back on my way home from work.  It was during one of those really heavy, afternoon snowfalls that coincided perfectly with my drive home.  I take the same route home everyday, and I almost look forward to when it snows and I’m driving, because it gives me the chance to get shots like this.  I really liked how the end of the road just vanished into the snow and how you can see the snow actually coming down.  It almost has a cinematic feel to it.

The processing for this one was actually pretty easy.  It was a five handheld exposure HDR that I processed with HDR Efex.  I moved it over the CS5, desaturated it a bit (not that I needed to), added a bit more green to the street signs, threw on a quick S Curve, and there you have it.  I didn’t do a Tonal Contrast filter or noise reduction because frankly I don’t think it needed either one!

For my next shot (doesn’t that remind you of those cheesy magicians from TV?), we are heading back to New York.  I just can’t get enough of that city, I just find myself going back to my pictures again and again and I keep find more pictures I want to process.  This is one of those.  I took this on our last day there right after we got off the Chambers St. subway stop.  I’m not going to lie, it took me about five minutes to figure out what this building was, because at first I wasn’t sure what stop we got off.  I had to pull up Google maps and literally drive down the street in Street View to see which building it was, and finally I found that it is the Public Advocates Office of New York (just in case you were wondering).  All the angles and architecture made for a great photograph.

I spent a bit more time processing this one.  Similar to the last one, this is a five exposure handheld HDR put through the HDR Efex process.  However, since I used the HDR Method “Dark Soft” the sky was a bit darker than I liked and there was some noticeable haloing around the arches and pillars.  I brought in the -2 exposure (since I was metered on the building, the sky was very blown out in all the other exposures), tonemapped it, and then masked in almost the entire sky.  I then dodged the top of some of the pillars and adjusted the shadows.  Added both a Tonal Contrast filter and High Pass Sharpening filter to the overall shot, as well as decreased overall saturation.  Straightened the shot and presented it to you, in full HDR glory.

That’s all for today folks, make sure you check back tomorrow!


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!


Winter wonderland!

I thought that I would give everyone a sampling of some of the winter-ness that we have been dealing with here!  Enjoy!

~Our road last Saturday morning

~Our backyard

~Down our road

~Big tree in our front yard

~Sun flare up the road

There are a lot more, but I will save those for another day!  We are supposed to get 4-8 more inches tonight, so we will see how that goes!

Thanks for stopping by!!!


“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

This is the front of my Maxima during the blizzard we had a few weeks ago. It was snowing so hard, I had just finished scraping my car off, and it was covered again!!!


“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”

I hope that everyone enjoyed their New Years Eve, and that 2010 is fantastic for everyone!


“He dares to be a fool, and that is the first step in the direction of wisdom.”

This is from a snow storm we had a few weeks ago. I couldn’t believe how hard it was snowing, and I couldn’t help but get outside with my camera!