HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “south side

Solid or stripes?

I’ve never done this on my blog, but I found this quote for my flickr post and really like it, so I thought I would share.

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
 ~Elliott Erwitt

Pool is one thing that I was just never really good at, no matter how much I played or practiced.  Granted we didn’t have a pool table growing up, but a friend of mine did, so it’s not like I never played.  I am however fascinated by trick pool shots, people who can make the cue ball curve all the way around the table, pocketing all the balls en route, as this is something that I would like to be able to do one day.  I think that I literally have just decided to buy a pool table for our next house and got really excited.

I know that that had nothing to do with photography, but pool came to mind instantly when I saw the subject of today’s shot.  I was walking through the South Side of Pittsburgh before meeting some coworkers for dinner, armed only with the 70-200 2.8.  I knew that if I even had the 16-35 with me I would be tempted to through it on and get a few wide angle HDRs.  Instead I just wanted to focus on candids.  Someone must have told all the characters to come out that day, because it just about a half hour of shooting I got four or five really quality candid situations, this being one of my favorites.

I was strolling along, camera in hand (never over the shoulder because you just don’t know when a great photo op will come along), when I saw this kid walking along.  The title of this post immediately came to mind and I got so excited to take the shot that I almost took the picture before he passed, which might have been a big awkward.  I calmy waited for him to pass, gave him a few strides to get past, smoothly turned around and fired off this shot, all while getting a weird look from a lady sitting at a red light directly to my right.

Did some light processing on this one.  Opened in Camera RAW, adjusted white balance slightly and increased the clarity.  Desaturated the reds and enhanced the blues to make his jeans stand out.  Over in Photoshop I added a slight S curve to increase contrast.  I then lowered overall saturation and increased the vibrance.  I was going to crop it in closer, but I didn’t want to lose the negative space to his left, and I didn’t add a pill box because I didn’t want to lose his feet.  Finally, added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and called it day.

TGIF, made it through the first week in the new building.  See you all on Monday.


Reflections of the times

Picking up where we left off last week with some more shots from Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where we spent our honeymoon.

One of the really interesting things about the resort was how it was laid out.  Part of Couples Sans Souci used to be apartments that were converted into hotel rooms at some point and this made the entire grounds seem like more of a little village than a resort.  There were winding staircases, hidden staircases, so many levels and different areas to explore, which means that you could walk to the same place five different ways, instead of just walking by the pool to get to the restaurant.  You could walk up a staircase, around a bank of rooms, by the mineral pool, through the hammock area, or up an entirely different staircase, around two other restaurants, through the lobby and end up at the same place.  One of the little hidden treasures of the CSS was the Mineral Pool (pictured above), which was kept at a certain balance of natural minerals to give you a relaxing swim.  You had to shower before you even got in it, and there were strict rules about what you could and could not do it.  I’ll just leave it at that.

There was also another pool (non mineral, just regular) attached to one of the bars at the resort called the Balloon Bar.  The only person I saw swimming in it the entire time we were there was a big tattooed guy who had one too many Red Stripes.  During a show that was going on directly next to it.  I’m pretty sure that that was also the only time where “No problem mon” turned into “We have a problem mon”.  At the Balloon Bar they had nightly shows where the performers were right on the little patio area that you see the above picture.  Guest interaction was highly encouraged and by the end of the performance you were almost always up dancing with them.  On a side note, this was also the only place on the entire resort that served Guiness, and it was only on the weekends, and they usually were out of it in a few hours after they got the shipment in.

So today’s shot.  I said yesterday on flickr that I am going to try to do some more street photography and candids.  The only problem is actually getting out and taking them.  I also want to have my wide angle out to give a better sense of the beauty of our city of Pittsburgh, but this week I am going to make an effort to go out shooting with just the 70-200.  Not taking the tripod, not taking the 16-35, just the 70-200 and see what I can do.  I have a few candids I will be posting from the archives and this is one of them

I was meeting up with my wife and some friends last fall for a happy hour and decided to get some shots before I had to be there.  This is one that I captured in South Side Works in the South Side (obviously) of Pittsburgh.  There is a little area right in front of the Cheesecake Factory and movies theatre that has a fountain and some benches that people just sort of mill around in.  I saw this guy poking away on his phone and couldn’t help but get a shot.  As in my shot from a few days ago I think he has an iPhone, which I thought was great, because you don’t see a lot of people his age with iPhones.  Definitely a reflection of our times.  (Sorry, had to do it).

I think I’ve found my groove in terms of processing these.  Opened in up in Camera Raw, reduced the overall saturation, added a standard S Curve to bring out some contrast, and finally added a slight Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.  Pretty happy with the result.

I really appreciate the visit everyone.  See you tomorrow.

Sit and stay a while

This morning I came to a very stark realization.  This blogging, um, stuff, is not easy.  I’ve been sitting here, trying to figure out what it is I’d like to write about today, and maybe I’m tired, the creative part of my brain isn’t awake yet, or something, but I, for the life of me had nothing.  Zippo.  Nada.  I thought to myself, do I really stoop to the level of writing about nothing?  I figured if it worked for Seinfeld then it would work for me.  Not saying I’m on the same level as Seinfeld but for all intents and purposes, this morning, I’m going to give it a shot!  I guess that writing about nothing really is writing about something right?  But then again truly writing about nothing would not be writing at all.  And I am writing.  I’m sorry, I think I just confused myself.  What’s ironic is that I title this “Sit and stay a while” as if I was amusing you in some way.  I have to coax you to say.  What have I become?

How about we just get to today’s shot to lessen the pain a bit (yes, pun intended, and yes, it was a bad one).  I figured that I would follow with the theme of yesterday with a bit of bokeh.  For those of you who aren’t into photography (and I realize now that I should have explained this yesterday, my deepest apologies), bokeh refers to the out of focus area in a picture.  This is a result of the aperture of the lens being wide open (which means a smaller f stop, typically f4 or lower), giving a very shallow depth of field.  You can try this yourself.  Pick up any object and hold it about eight inches from your eyes; everything else will be out of focus.  That’s more or less the concept of this shot.  This particular shot was taken in Station Square with the city “bokehed”, if you will.  I used at aperture of f4 for this, as that is as low as my wide angle 16-35mm will go.

Not a whole lot to say on the processing side.  This is a five exposure, handheld HDR processed with HDR Efex.  I did not apply a Tonal Contrast Filter, just added an S Curve to give the shot a bit more contrast and did some selective coloring to enhance the pink in the sky.  Added some clarity in light room to give the clouds a bit more “oompf” (that is the first time I have ever used that word in type), and there you have it!

Tomorrow’s post will be better.  I promise.

Beach and bokeh

Well, today it is raining.  At least it was raining when I was on my way to work.  It was actually kind of weird, because we still have probably around five inches of snow on the ground, but it was absolutely pouring down rain.  There was a bit of ice, nothing to make the commute too bad.  I usually love winter, but this year has kind of been a pain.  It snows six inches one day, then gets up to 33 and it all melts.  Then it snows again two days later.  Then it gets warm again.  I can say that I am officially over winter and ready for spring.  To me winter has two parts.  The part leading up to Christmas and then the part where it snows (hopefully the two coincide).  I know that winter doesn’t technically start until December 22nd, but to me, everything after Thanksgiving is winter.  So now that Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, it’s time for some snow!  And some sustained snow!

I’ve titled this entry beach and bokeh, yet all I’ve done is talk about winter.  Sorry.  You know how you get off topic and start rambling?  And I’m not talking about just talking with someone.  Like when I had a conversation with a group of coworkers the other day, we started talking about an upcoming happy hour and then bachelor parties and then sushi and then German beer and it was like “How the hell did this happen?”  I’m not just talking about that.  I’m talking about when you’re sitting there at a red light waiting for it to change thinking about what to make for dinner when you get home.  Then you see someone walking their talk and think about that dog you had when you were little.  And how cute it was when she knocked over your Coke can at your birthday party when you were 8 all over your friend Tom.  And then, “Man, I wonder what Tom’s doing now?  I haven’t seen him in 15 years!” Then you start thinking about that girl that he used to date who was so annoying, she reminds you of a girl you work with who is equally as annoyi…oh wait, work, that’s right, I forgot to bring my laptop home to finish that presentation!  My boss is gonna kill me!  Hold on, the boss is still out of the office in Europe…then you think how you would love to vacation there, visit Italy, they probably have the best pasta in the world there!  PASTA!  That’s it.  Pasta for dinner.  While all of this was happening, you missed two green lights, almost drifted into the guy behind you and are getting strange looks by people walking by.

Look at me, rambling again.  How about some pictures?

It’s a two for one special today!  One is from our Jamaican honeymoon (beach) and one is from last Friday on a short photowalk (bokeh).  For the Jamaican one, I was trying to get a minimalistic feel to, with just the lone raft on the beach and the whole people in the distance in the water, one of them being my wife.  I took it mid trip there on the typically afternoon we had, stunning blue sky, a few wisps of clouds, and that sparkling water.  It actually did rain one afternoon, but this pretty much epitomized the weather!

I put more work into this shot than I was originally planning to.  It is just a single exposure that I tonemapped in HDR Efex.  I kicked it over to Color Efex where I added a Tonal Contrast layer to the sad and water and left the sky alone.  After that I added the Brilliance Filter from Color Efex to give it that warm glow.  I also added a Selective Color layer to boost some of the greens in the water as well as striaghtened the horizon.

This shot is a bit more straightforward.  It is a five exposure handheld HDR from Station Square in Pittsburgh.  I’ve been trying to do more DoF shots, and I think that this one turned out rather nice!  Processed the HDR in HDR Efex, added a Tonal Contrast filter and boosted the reds from the sunset!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, make sure you check out my HDR Efex Tutorial!

Enjoy your Tuesday everyone!

The best and the rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Side Attractions, Part 1

I’m going to start being a better blogger…I know, I know, I’ve been VERY lax lately (this is my first post in a month!)  Anyways, I will be starting a series here that will give everyone a little tour of the South Side of Pittsburgh.  These will not be in consecutive order (I wouldn’t want to bore you!), but over the next couple weeks I will showcase a few South Side locations!  So to start off today we have…


The Rex Theatre was built in the South Side in 1905 and was originally designed for vaudeville performances and shows.  Over the next 90 years it became a movie house for all in Pittsburgh to enjoy.  However, the theatre fell on some hard times and had to shut it’s doors.  It reopened about a decade ago, and now plays host to concerts, cabaret style shows and movies, as well as offer a full service bar.


Barry’s Pub will always hold a special place in my heart, as that is where my fiance and I had our first date!  It was a Tuesday night with $2 Coronas, and I think they had some 3 Olives Vodka promotion going on as well!

Barry’s used to be known as Joyce’s Celtic Pub until a name name about 5 years ago.  It is basically the same bar as it was then, with the addition of a stage in the back.  This is a popular hangout for Duquesne University students in Pittsburgh, as it is within walking distance of the campus.

Stay tuned for the continued tour!

“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”

Ok, ok, so everyone who lives in Pittsburgh has heard of Primanti’s, and probably some of you who haven’t been to the ‘Burgh have heard of it. But it is still work posting a shot of one! This is the one in the South Side of Pittsburgh, and it has a pretty nice bar attached to it as well. I have seen lines around the building on this place before! And for a steak, cole slaw and french fries sandwich! So well work it, hahah

“I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.”

So this is from the same night as my shot of the Hofbrauhaus. I had my tripod in my backseat, and thought that I would take a walk through the South Side and see what I could capture. It was a Monday night, so it wasn’t that crowded, which it made it kind of ideal for shooting the HDRs. I would like to go back eventually and take some shots on a Friday or Saturday night!

The shot is of Fat Heads, which is an AWESOME bar/restaurant. They have a TON of beers and sandwiches, and if you are ever in Pittsburgh, I HIGHLY recommend a visit!


“To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”

I found it pretty amusing that the supposedly “upscale” S Bar in Pittsburgh was right next to a little family owned Christmas store, haha

I have never actually be here, but then again I am no much for the South Side anymore. It seems like it is just a bunch of 22 year olds running around, who can’t handle their liquor and are puking in the sidewalk!

Don’t get me wrong, when I was 22 I loved it down there!!!

You can read more about the S Bar at:

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

Took this shot at the South Side Works in Pittsburgh. They have a bunch of nice restaurants down there, Cheesecake Factory, a movie theatre, and $2,500 a month apartments (which is INSANE for Pittsburgh!) They also have a Hofbrauhaus, which I was on my way to when taking this shot!!

And today was a GREAT day, as the Cowboys won the division, and the Steelers OUT of the playoffs! Love it!!!!!!!!!