Photo of the Day

While in Chicago a month ago I was trying something new out for me. I used to get to locations early to make sure that I had it all to myself. It would bother me when someone was there, and then I would have a contest to see who would wait the longest before leaving. For this trip I was trying to find some people to make the landmarks a little more interesting. When the girl with the pink hair stepped in front of me I knew that I had a picture. I had already picked my location so, and set me camera up so all that I had to do was fire. Sometimes the photos just come to you.

Technical Data

I have come to the conclusion that I really have settled into a style. It starts with a faux HDR preset, and I work off of that. I like photos with a lot of contrast and blacks in them. At first I thought that this was a phase as most things tend to be, but this has stuck for a while. If I do not edit like I normally do the photo looks flat to me. It will be interesting to see how this goes.

Advertisements

Photo of the Day

Last year was filled with many great moments. Many dreams fulfilled for sure. One of those dreams was to see the sun rise over the Golden Gate Bridge. I only had one shot at making a picture during the only morning that we were in San Francisco so I played it safe and went up high in case fog rolled in. I didn’t want to be low, and have no picture. What I saw up in the Marin Headleads amazed me. People were out everywhere making their own mark on this photo. I made this photo though after many had left. For some reason once the sun rises people leave. What they must not see or care about is the tremendous color that can still happen when the sun is low. The same holds true for a sunset. Most of the time the best color in the sky is after the sun has gone down. I like how everything seems to work here for a simple picture. This is not a gallery image, but it is a great reminder of a super morning.

Technical Data

For this photo I used one RAW file to take into Lightroom. Inside of that program I made a couple of adjustments to the sliders to bring out the colors and the detail in the scene. I also used the HDR look preset in the program to get started. From there you just have to adjust a few sliders to make the image appear as it did that morning. Your eye can see a much larger dynamic range of light than your camera can. That is where software comes into play. You can make up for that range with the tools that we now have.

Photo of the Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Many businesses and government agencies are closed for the day in honor of this pioneer of the 60’s. In 2006 while in Atlanta I visited his gravesite. It had recently been in the news when Martin’s wife Coretta Scott King passed. The museum and historic grounds are a great place to visit, and I highly recommend it if you are in the Atlanta area.

Technical Data

This is another photo that I took early on in my photography career that I wish that I could do over again. I had my camera in an auto mode without knowing what to do. I let the camera control the scene, and of course it did not expose for my subject. Most of my early photos were ruined this way. Luckily with Lightroom I was able to save many of these older photos. This is one that a few slider tweaks helped bring back.

Photo of the Day

On our last day in California I was determined to soak everything in. Of course I had seen a few great bridges during our short trip, but everyday in Sacramento all I had to do was look out the window to see the Tower Bridge from our room at the Embassy Suites. This was no accident. When we booked the hotel we asked for this view. Over the course of the four days we were there I took a few pictures from our window. None of them spoke to me though like this one taken at sunrise on our last day. The sun had come up behind me, but the colors that it gave off were amazing.

Technical Data

This was shot with the intention of making a three shot HDR image. In fact I have included a version that is HDR next to this one in my SmugMug gallery. I liked the colors from this metered exposure better though so I decided to use it. I did use a preset in Lightroom though to get me close. I used Matt Kloskowski’s HDR Look (medium) to get it close, and then I tweaked the sliders to try and recreate the beauty of that morning.

Over the course of the trip I made many beautiful images with the 24-70mm lens that I had just purchased. I love the lens, but here I couldn’t zoom as far out as I would have liked. On a full frame camera that may have worked, but here it did not. I instead switched quickly to the 10-24mm Tamron lens that I have had for over a year. I really like the range it gives me, and it helped me get this shot. I only used a couple of lenses on this trip which just shows how much faith I have in those lenses.

Photo of the Day

Part of the fun of going to California this year was to see San Francisco. I have always loved the town from afar, and it was amazing to get to visit it. After being up 23 hours Friday I took what amounted to a short nap before getting up to head to the Marin Headlands to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise. I still had not seen the historic bridge before heading out that morning. I made my plans for the shoot completely based off an an e-book by Rob Dweck. The free book gives exact locations for some of the best views of the bridge. I only had one shot at getting the bridge so I wanted a higher location in case fog rolled in. I chose Hawk Hill as my vantage point as it gave me the best view in any conditions. This shot was taken on Conzelman Road just before Hawk Hill though. I couldn’t wait to get a picture, and the light was just right. I pulled over to make this picture. It was a good thing that I did as the gate giving access to Hawk Hill had not yet been opened. I did get some great knowledge while shooting from a very nice local who helped me gain access to another area later on that I would not have tried. A couple of pictures from that quest will appear later on I am sure.

Technical Data

Here is where things get interesting. I set up very quickly on the hill to get a shot before the light came up. I set my camera to f/10 to allow me to get a little longer exposure. I wanted at least a 30 second exposure to smooth out the water, and also to create the light streaks on the bridge from the early morning traffic. I shot three frames in order to make an HDR image in Photomatix. When I was on my way home I processed this image in Photomatix. I saved the 32 bit image, but I also tried to tonemap the image. I really thought that the tonemapping process just created a result that was not very realistic. I opened up the 32 bit image in Lightroom to see what I could do with it. I really worked hard at creating an image here that represented the beauty that I saw that morning. I kept working the sliders until I was happy with the result. Having the information from the three images helped the process very much. The one odd thing that had to be done involves the lower left corner. A car was running on the overlook with its lights on while everyone was shooting. Those lights lit up some brush in that corner that I had to get rid of. I simply used the brush in Lightroom to paint over the brush that was lit, and I just adjusted the exposure until it was blended in like it should have been.

framed empire

Photo of the Day

Enough of the sports already. This is a picture that I liked very early on, but it needed a lot of work. I took this in 2008 when we visited New York as part of our yearly sports adventure. Those trips have now gone away, but they were fun while they lasted. On an off day we took the tourist route. This picture was made on the same water taxi that a few other pictures that have been on this blog were made. This was a very productive little ride for me. Earlier on this blog I had a post showing the Empire State Building framed in by the Brooklyn Bridge. This picture was taken just a few minutes later just down the river, and I thought that the same thing would work again. I like the idea of a bridge shot, but a landmark framed in the background really makes it for me.

Technical Data

I tried a few different things with this photo over time. This was shot with my old Canon Rebel XT with a very dirty sensor. As I have said before on this blog I did not know that my sensor was dirty at the time. I cleaned up most of the offending spots with the clone tool in Lightroom. After trying a few looks I decided to use Silver Efex Pro 2 that was part of my recently purchased Nik Software Suite. I loved this look that I was given using the Full Dynamic (harsh) preset. It really made my image stand out. Of course it also made many more dust spots stand out. I took the image back into Lightroom, and moved all over the image using the healing brush to clean up all of the new spots that now appeared. Once I poured over the shot (probably missing a couple) I exported the photo. I really like a lot of these shots from that trip, but they require much more work than necessary. I will have to really test my sensor before a big trip so that I never have to do this again.

Grand Central Station in New York

Photo of the Day

What no baseball picture? I have been having so much fun taking pictures of baseball that this blog has been taken over by the sport this week. I thought that tonight I would go back a bit for a much different picture. I took this picture in 2008 during our New York trip. I had no idea how much the guards apparently do not like photography so I didn’t have that to worry me when I took this. Apparently they frown on photography, and you will get booted for using a tripod. This was taken handheld in auto mode. It sat in a folder on my computer for a long time before I found out about Lightroom. I soon saw that it could help me resurrect some of my older pictures.

Technical Data

This picture was always missing something in my mind. When I found Lightroom I brought this photo in to adjust it a bit. Adding a bit of highlights, clarity, and contrast really made it pop for me. I then used the noise reduction in Lightroom to fix some of the data loss that adjusting the picture created. In all I am happy with the final result. I would love to go back now with what I know and try again though.

broken arrow

Photo of the Day

While in LaPorte last weekend I visited a couple of sites that I thought were iconic for the town. One of those has to be the Potawatomi Indian statue. As a child this statue used to be in between the courthouse and the county building. The indiana used to be the centerpiece of a very cool fountain. When the county building was repurposed the indian was moved to the side of the courthouse. Part of the fun of this blog is doing a quick bit of research on some of the subjects. This statue was part of LaPorte’s way of celebrating the bicentennial in 1976. That means that the statue is as old as I am, and it has moved a couple of times as well. During my photo 365 project I took a couple of pictures of this statue, and butchered them in my early days of HDR. It is nice to finally do this landmark a little justice here.

Technical Data

This statue is very cool, and has some nice aging that would look great in HDR. The problem though was the sky above the courthouse. It really was a flat grey sky that I could not crop out unless I got up on a ladder to take a picture of the indian. What to do here? First off I took my three bracketed images at +2, 0, and -2 and ran them through Photomatix. I then saved the 32 bit file, and reimported that into Lightroom. Then I used an HDR preset for black and white pictures created by Matt Kloskowski. You may wonder why I use these all the time? Well they are free presets given out at his blog Lightroom Killer Tips. I downloaded this black and white preset on the plane ride to Colorado, and I have really used it since then. It is a great way to get some great looking black and white shots. I don’t like the strong one so much, but the simple version is great. He just released a new tonal contrast preset that is very cool for bringing out the texture in your shots. I am sure that you will see that one on here in the near future in some form or another. It may just be in a layer for an image though as it is pretty strong.

lady liberty

Photo of the Day

When I was in Colorado I posted a picture of the Statue of Liberty that I took in 2008 while I was visiting New York City. I took many shots that day as we were approaching the statue. I wish that I was there with my current equipment, and the knowledge that I have now. I am not though so I wanted to go back and look at this shot. I really like the many possibilities with this series of photos so I decided that I could try a few things with them. About a month ago you saw the post linked above, and now you have this one. I like the idea of working a set of photos many different ways. Maybe Lady Liberty will show up again in a couple of months.

Technical Data

For this shot I started off by using a Trey Ratcliff preset for Lightroom called, “An Infrared Morning.” This preset gave this shot a look that I really like. From there I had some work to do. My sensor was extremely dirty on that trip so I had to get out a bunch of dust spots that were ruining the sky. This picture had never seen the light of day because of those spots. From there I performed a crop to get the shot that I wanted on the day. I couldn’t get as close to the statue as I would have liked. Thanks to a crop I now could. I also really spent some time on the sliders to get the look that I wanted on this shot. One trick that I used here was using the option key in Lightroom to get the blacks and whites correct on the shot. A really neat trick is to hold down the option key, and then moving the black or white slider. It will allow you to get the colors dead on. In either case you just need to make the black or the white show up just a bit, and you are there. That really improved this shot. After all of that it was time to export the photo to post it here.