Using Photoshop CC For HDR images

Louisville, Kentucky cityscape at sunset.
Sunset cityscape of Louisville, Kentucky as fall approaches.

With the approach of Fall, I have started photographing Waterfront Park and the Louisville cityscape as the season progresses. I am also experimenting with using Photoshop CC to merge my bracket sets because Google is no longer supporting the NIK HDR eFex 2 software. Even though I have used NIK HDR eFex 2 for nearly ten years I realize that it will eventually be obsolete due to advances in both computers and operating systems. Rather than continue to work in NIK HDR eFex 2 I know it is time for me to find a viable solution to my desire to shoot and process HDR images. Adobe Photoshop CC does an excellent job of merging bracketed images.

For these images, I am using Photoshop CC layers and Topaz Clarity as a final layer to fine tune the contrast and color in the finished images.

Abraham Lincoln Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky.
Piers under the Abraham Lincoln Bridge at sunset. The shoreline is Waterfront Park in Louisville, Kentucky.

In this image I wanted to shoot from Indiana back across the river to Kentucky under the Abraham Lincoln Bridge. I set up my tripod just before the sun dropped below the horizon and hoped to get some good light on the piers that support the bridge. I was also taken by the rose color of the light and how it lit the forms of the piers. The sky was very pastel along the southern side of the river and I wanted to capture that feature of the sunset; as an additional element I felt it was important to include the clouds on the left to balance the composition.

This image too is a three frame bracket merged in Photoshop CC and then opened in Adobe Camera Raw to make most of my basic image adjustments. Once that was done I returned it to Photoshop CC and added an additional layer that I used Topaz Clarity as a filter to fine tune the final contrast and color.

Sunsets on the Ohio River

Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy Bridges at Sunset

Earlier this week I went down to Waterfront Park to shoot the sunset from the Big Four Bridge. We have been having a lot of rain this winter and sunsets haven’t been very interesting so when I saw that maybe the clouds were going to be colorful I thought I’d give it a try. January sunsets aren’t usually very intensely colorful but the evening offered some nice color.

Waterfront Park Swing Garden

Lincoln and Kennedy Bridges

Lincoln and Kennedy Bridges in Black and White.

Change Perspective and Improve Your Photographic Vision

1938 Ford Truck
1938 Ford Truck

One good way to reinvigorate your photography is to change perspective; doing so will improve your photographic vision. I love cars and have been photographing them since I was a kid. Over the years, for the most part, I had fallen into a predictable method of framing them: I would pick a three quarter angle and fire away. While this method produced many interesting photos it wasn’t that different from the way 99% of photographers approached the subject.

1956 Ford
1956 Ford

This past summer when the annual Street Rod Nationals came to Louisville I decided to use two distinct approaches that I hadn’t used much over the past several years. The first approach was to shoot symmetrical compositions, something I usually avoid due to their static nature. Symmetric compositions don’t usually have a lot of movement and can be rather bland but once I started shooting these images I realized that it was far more challenging than I initially thought it would be.

1955 Ford
1955 Ford

The first challenge was to frame perfectly symmetrical images; shifting the angle of the camera away from a pure 90 degrees from the subject would introduce a subtle asymmetry. It wasn’t as simple as standing in front of the subject and trying to center the details. I discovered that if I was even a fraction off center the distortion of the sensor plane to the plane of the car would result in missing the mark. I compensated for that by making certain to use the grid lines in the viewfinder to accurately bisect the image but even at that there was still the problem of getting the edges of the other elements equally framed. That was when I realized that it was also important to think about the sensor plane too. I would first align the vertical lines in the viewfinder and then shift slightly left or right to center the elements along the edge of the frame a perfectly as possible. I started using a monopod to stabilize my camera while still having the flexibility to move freely among the crowds that surround the cars.

1946 Ford
1946 Ford

The second challenge was to come up with a different viewpoint. I opted for coming in over the front of the car above the hood so that I was shooting almost straight down. As soon as I started doing that I saw how the shapes of the cars were so different than I was used to seeing. The photos that follow were a refreshing change for me and the act of shooting them added another aspect to my way of seeing familiar subject matter with a fresh eye.

Ironworker’s Topping Out Ceremony


These two photos show the Ironworker’s Topping Out Ceremony that joined the north and south sections of the downtown span of the Ohio River Bridges Project. On Oct 19, 2015 the raising gang were getting ready to lift final segment into place on the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The tradition among Ironworkers is to place an evergreen tree on the last section of a project to symbolize the safe completion of the structural steel. They do it to mark another job that everyone survived. Ironworking is a dangerous occupation and the possibility of loss of life is always there. Fortunately the men and women on this job were able to complete their work without any injuries or anyone losing their life.

They also sign the last piece of steel before placing it. On this day I was also asked to sign the segment because I had been with them all the way trough the job of erecting the bridge steel.  From setting the first side girder exactly 364 days before this on on October 18, 2015 until this final segment was in place they worked safely and quickly to make this milestone.

Click on an image to open it in a new window. 

Raising gang on Oct 19, 2015 getting ready to lift final segment into place on the Ohio River Bridges Project.
Raising gang on Oct 19, 2015 getting ready to lift final segment into place on the Ohio River Bridges Project.
Raising gang on Oct 19, 2015 getting ready to lift final segment into place on the Ohio River Bridges Project. #2
Raising gang on Oct 19, 2015 getting ready to lift final segment into place on the Ohio River Bridges Project. #2

2015 End of Year Gallery

This 2015 end of year gallery is made up of photos from the Ohio River Bridges project that were taken in late fall 2015 just prior to the completion of the new bridge. They encompass many facets of the final construction as well as showing many of the men and women who worked extremely long days and nights in order to meet the deadline.

Click on any image to open a slide show of the gallery.