Where I have been, what I have done, and why I did it

Archive for October, 2010

10/22/10 Before And After- Paducah Search And Rescue

I dedicated the past several nights into expanding my processing techniques and learning more about some of the tools I have but do not use.  While researching, I came across a filter that was receiving a lot of praise and was a part of many photographers post process- The filter I’m talking about is Nik Color Effects Pro “Bleach Bypass”.

I went through some of my older shots and I decided to try it out on this one.  Below are the 3 bracket shots I made. (They were taken at neutral setting in AV mode.)

Next I did something a little different in my normal hdr process.  Usually I open these shots in Photmatix to generate the hdr file and then tone map.  This time however I went with another process and opened them up in Adobe Camera Raw and made a few adjustments to the shots.  I then selected Merge to HDR Pro in the tools option.  This created my HDR file that I then opened in Photomatix and tone mapped.

The only real difference I noticed in this process  compared to my usual process is the HDR file seems to be more subdued and requires more push in the tone map side of things.  Typically when I use Photomatix to handle hdr creation, I need to be conservative on my tone map or the image gets overcooked fast.  This time though, I had to really bump my settings up.   Anyway below is the result of my tone map from Photomatix.

Now…time to have fun in photoshop using Nik Color Effects Pro and Topaz Adjust 4.  The first filter I applied was Nik Pro Contrast.  I duplicated this layer and then used a custom setting in Topaz Adjust 4.  I lowered the opacity of this layer down to 67% and then merged it with the Pro Contrast layer.  Next I went back to Nik and selected Bleach Bypass.  Once the new layer was created I lowered the opacity to 15% and then merged it down.  At this point I was really happy with the effect and I see why many HDR photographers use it.  I then used Nik Glamour Glow.  Next I used Nik Brilliance and Warmth but only selected the barrels to apply this effect.  Below is what came out of the oven-



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10/15/10 Last Weekend’s Adventures

On Friday the 8th of October after work, I loaded up my gear and headed north. I wasn’t really going anywhere in particular but since the previous week I went south and west, I figured north was a good bet.

I took I24 and headed into Illinois. While driving up 24, I spot a few locations just off the road for future shots. (I have been saying this to myself every time I head up this way and some day I’m going to really take them.  🙂  ) I look at the clock and see that I have about a hour and a half before sunset so I start thinking about where I want to set up. I decide to go to Fern Cliff to see how the leaves were looking and take some shots of the lake. Plus there is a place I found during the winter where I took some pictures that had a good view and I wanted to see how it looks in the fall.

I arrived to see that the leaves have not really started to pop yet. Regardless, I headed down to the lake and took some shots to capture the reflection of the trees on the water and also to maybe get a ripple from a fish hitting the top of the water. Below is the best I got-

After walking around much of the lake looking at different angles, I was not real inspired by the colors or the way the lighting was changing. I decided it was time to move to my next location- the bluff.

Upon entering the forest on the trail to take me to the bluff, I noticed the way the sun was causing a nice glow to the leaves that had changed. I almost stopped to take some pictures, but decided to check the bluff out first since it was going to be my sunset picture and the sun was well… getting close to setting.

Once I reached the bluff, I walked around looking for the best spot to capture my sunset. As with the lake, the colors were just not there yet.  I decided the sky would be my color for this shot and I would do a silhouette shot.

Since I went with this idea, I had time to go back to the area in the woods were the sun was breaking through causing a nice glow to the leaves. I setup my tripod and began shooting. While I was doing this, I thought this would be a good example of making a picture into a pseudo 3d fly around movie to bring it to life. Below is what I made after I processed the shot and used Adobe After Effects CS5 to make the movie.-

After about 15 minutes I headed back to the bluff and was just in time to get the sun going down behind the trees. I took many shots here and even changed lenses at the end. Good thing I did, the best one I got was with the 50mm 1.8 at f8. Below is the silhouette shot I was looking for-

Now that it was dark, it was time to head back home.

On Saturday the 9th, I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and packed up my gear and my 15 month old daughter for a trip up to and around Marion Ky. I kinda have been wanted to capture a combine working in a field with the sun rising or setting.  So this morning I thought I would head in a direction with lots of farms.

As soon as we start to head out of Paducah, I notice that there is quite a bit of fog.  Quickly I decided to stop at a location I have been to several times that I’m about to pass.  I pull into an area where they work on barges in Paducah Ky.  I wanted to see if the fog and the rising sun would make an interesting shot.  I scouted for a few minutes, and then picked my spot. Below is one of the pictures I made here-

I then got back on track and started heading to Smithland Ky.   Right before Smithland I spotted a hay bale and grabbed a shot of it-

Back on the road, I headed up to Marion where I wanted to go out to the Amish area by the ferry crossing to Illinois.   (I made a wrong turn and ended up in Sturgis Ky to which I received a “boy… you aint from around here” look ) I made a u-turn and once back in Marion I spotted the road I missed.  I was originally looking for a building I thought I remembered being on the road by the ferry.  I drove all the way to the ferry and I did not spot it.  I did however see a sign for a grocery down a gravel road.  I figured it was time to let my daughter out to run around some so I went there.

Turns out the grocery is Amish owned and is on a neat farm.  As soon as I let my daughter out, she spotted a 2 year old Amish girl playing in the yard.  Off my daughter went with me trailing behind.  The Amish girl’s mother came out to greet us and we had a nice conversation.   On a funny note, even though my daughter is only 15 months, she has this crazy fascination with shoes… she loves them, she plays with them, she puts on mismatched sets, matched sets, mommy’s and even mine.  Well the first thing she does when the Amish mother walks up is point to her shoes and then points to the Amish girl’s shoes- as if to say “can I try those on?”.  We had a good laugh and I turned to see what I thought would make a good picture-

I saw the time was around 10:15 a.m. and I wanted to get back to Paducah to watch Tennessee play Georgia.  I loaded up my daughter and off we went.

On my way back, I wanted to try to take a picture of the bridge I would pass over entering Smithland Ky.  Since I could not stop on this road, I held my camera through the sunroof and took several continuous shots in hopes one would be in focus.  Below is what I captured-

On Sunday October the 10th, it was shaping up to be a pretty day and I mentioned to my wife that it would be a great day to go exploring.  We decided to head from Metropolis to Anna Illinois on a road we had not been down before.

We stopped at several areas but nothing worth taking a picture.  Then my wife spotted Wineaux’s Winery.  I will admit I did not catch the name at first, then I laughed.  We toured it and order a glass of wine with some cheese and crackers.  We relaxed on the back deck overlooking the vineyard and enjoyed the wonderful Sunday afternoon. Below is a picture I took-


10/06/10 Deco Coca Cola Entrance – Examining Mood And HDR

Before I start this installment on examining one of my compositions, I want to briefly cover the topic of High Dynamic Range or HDR processing.   In basic terms, HDR in photography is a process of taking multiple exposures of a shot and combining them into one shot that is then tone mapped to bring out the lights and darks of the shot.  This process opens up many options for the final outcome and gives the photographer an added artistic direction.  I enjoy this process…well… because I like to process my shots.

As an example, I want to examine a picture I took back in the spring of 2010.  I was granted access to the vacant Coca Cola Bottling Plant in Paducah Ky built in 1939.  This building was constructed with the Deco theme of the 30’s.

To begin, I took 3 pictures with the front door open.  One at regular exposure, f/8 aperture, 18mm –

One under exposed -2

One over exposed +2

Once back to my PC, I loaded these 3 shots into photomatix and did a conservative tone map. ( I prefer to be fairly conservative in this tone map process and tone map more with topaz adjust later.)  Below is the tone mapped shot after photomatix-

Next I opened up the shot in Photoshop CS3 and applied Nik Pro Contrast effect to clean up the color and add more contrast-

Next I used topaz adjust to apply my custom hdr tone map to bring out the textures-

Next I used Nik Tonal Contrast to emphasize the lines in the wood of the door and texture on the walls-

Now that I have a blend of texture that I like, I noticed I had some areas on the shot that glamour glow would accentuate even more…specifically chrome reflections of the natural light.-

Next, I wanted to bring more focus to the door so I used Nik Darken/Lighten center.-

And my final step, I wanted to add more of the sun reflection at the top so I used Nik Reflector Effects.  I brushed in the areas I wanted to highlight.  Then I sharpened up the shot with a duplicate layer overlay on high pass and here is the outcome-

To really see the detail of this shot, a larger version of this is on my website here.

My goal for the final print of this shot was to capture the textures of this aged deco entrance and that in itself would permeate the mood for which I was aiming.