HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Posts tagged “winter

Down by the river

A few days ago I did a write up on all the sports arenas in Pittsburgh, both past and present.  Well, maybe not all of them, but all of the significant ones.  Yesterday there was some pretty big news in Pittsburgh around perhaps the most iconic one, Mellon Arena.  As we know, the Penguins moved out of the Igloo this season and across the street into the new CONSOL Energy Center.  The decision was made last October to have the old Civic Arena torn down, and a new development put in, with shops, apartments, etc.  It was going to be designed to help reconnect the city to the Hill District, as the home of Penguins had separated the two for nearly fifty years.  The demolition was scheduled for early 2011.

But here we are early March 2011 and the arena is still standing, as we saw in my upload from a few days back.  That’s because right after the decision to implode the arena was made, historical organizations began fighting for the preservation of the building, claiming that it was a cultural landmark and should be saved.  My two cents on the whole issue is this.  It is an old building.  Inside?  Pretty ugly.  Cool, but ugly.  It’s small, cramped, and not a whole lot to use it for.  Besides, even if they did want to use it for concerts, shows and the like, why would anyone want to perform in a fifty year old building when they can perform at a less than one year old building across the street?  I’m not even taking into consideration what it would take to keep the Civic Arena operational and safe for patrons, but I have to imagine it would be astronomical.

My opinions aside, the historical societies were dealt a blow yesterday, when the Pittsburgh Historic Review panel denied the Civic Arena’s status as a city historic structure.  Although the preservations will eventually take the battle to the city council, which will have the final say, it is not looking too good for the world’s first retractable domed stadium.

On to today’s shots.  Well, technically I only have one shot to post to flickr, but I was up on Mt. Washington shooting and killing time yesterday, and got a pretty cool tilt shift with Canon S95 that I wanted to share first.  I haven’t processed a tilt shift in Photoshop for a while, but I may see what I can dig up.  For now though, I am pretty happy with the effect provided by the S95.

Today’s official shot it another one from a few Saturdays ago.  After I made my way across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, the moon was still just above the horizon.  All the tones seemed to blend together so nicely, even the reds and the blues.  There was a perfect gradient in the sky that matched the color of the building, and the blue right along top of the sky even seemed to match the water.  I set up the tripod, took the bracket of seven shots, and made my way towards PNC Park.

Processed this one pretty similar to the other ones in the set.  The bracketed shots were put through HDR Efex using the HDR Method “Soft”.  I masked in the -3 exposure, to make sure that I got that rich color gradient fading from red to blue.  I added a blue curves layer to enhance the upper park of the sky and also masked in the light post you see on the right as it was just a little blown out.  Added a Tonal Contrast filter from Color Efex and High Pass Sharpening, as usual.  Finally, adjusted the overall curves of the scene to give it a bit more contrast, saved and uploaded.

Ahhh, can you smell that?  Friday is in the air.  Enjoy your day guys.

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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.


Winter blues

Well, it’s Friday, and is any day better than Friday?  Ok, Saturday is equally as awesome, no work to look forward to the next day, a whole day to do nothing.  Sunday is okay until around 5, when you realize you have to go to work in less than twelve hours.  But Friday.  There is just something about getting in your car and heading home on a Friday afternoon, knowing that a weekend of infinite possibilities lies in front of you.  And hopefully some photography time.  My goal is to motivate myself to be out of bed at 6:00 tomorrow morning to catch the sunrise in downtown Pittsburgh.  We’ll see how that turns out.

We’ve had a bit of a warm spell these last few days, with temperatures hitting the upper 60s yesterday.  However they are calling for more snow on Monday, as temperatures are going to continue to fall throughout the weekend.  This is probably my least favorite time of the year.  Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, snow, seeing the ground covered for months, I think it’s great.  Winter starts out great, because although it doesn’t officially start until December 22nd, right after Thanksgiving at the end of November I feel that the seasons are changing.  Then you have Christmas (my favorite holiday) and New Years, and then in the Northeast US we get most of our snow in January and February, although this year it was pretty much the whole country.  Then the weather warms up to low 40s, all the snow melts, it rains a lot and there is just nothing enjoyable about the end of February through late April.  I don’t normally look forward to spring and summer so much, but this year I definitely am.

This Monday the Penguins will have the Washington Capitals at home in Consol Energy Center for the first time, and it will mark the first time the Caps will have been in Pittsburgh since the Winter Classic, which the Capitals won on New Year’s Day.  It may end up being a bit of a tough one, as the Penguins ranks are still relatively depleted with injuries.  In honor of that meet up, today’s post is a shot from the day after the Winter Classic, right outside Heinz Field.  Being the spouse of an employee, I got the chance to skate on the ice from the Winter Classic the next day, and had my camera to take as many pictures as I could.  I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, because those signs, that ice, will never be there again.  It’s not like a simple playoff game, when you know your team will probably make it again next year.  This had the possibility to be a once in a lifetime event.  I’ll more than likely be posting a few more pictures from that weekend on Monday.  For now, this is a shot of North Shore Drive, and you can see the Winter Classic banner hanging from the lamp post, with a bit of the city in the background.

Nothing groundbreaking in terms of processing for this shot.  Five exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex.  Masked in the entire sky from the -2 exposure as well as the tree branches that were swaying and created a few ghostly looking branches.  Added a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex as well as an S Curve in CS5 to give it a bit more contrast.  Since it was early afternoon on a sunny day, the whole scene had a very blue tint, so I added a sepia filter to help warm it up a bit.  Lastly, did some High Pass sharpening to give it a crisp look.

Thanks for all your visits this week and I hope you all have a great weekend.


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!


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!


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!!!