Upcoming HDR Workshop: Using HDR Photography to Create Your Own Personal Style

Abandoned Gas Station in Northern Alabama.

HDR Image of an Abandoned Gas Station in Northern Alabama.

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Have you been curious about HDR (high dynamic range) photography but intimidated with all the mumbo jumbo that you’ve heard about it? Have you wondered how to create photos that show all the detail you saw when you tripped the shutter? Are you ready to take your photo processing to the next level?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then join me for this HDR workshop April 18-19, 2014 in Louisville, KY.

http://outdoorphotogear.ticketleap.com/hdr-photography/dates/Apr-18-2014_at_0700PM

By attending this HDR Workshop and applying what you learned you will soon be creating images that reveal your own personal vision through the use of High Dynamic Range Photography. After completing this workshop you will understand why HDR photography is so popular with many top tier photographers today and how you can use HDR to express your personal vision.

By attending this hands on workshop you will learn how and why to use High Dynamic Range Photography techniques in many situations, from low light  to high contrast. You will learn what techniques and software work best for a given photographic subject. After completing this workshop you will be prepared to create images that allow you to share your personal vision for the photo as you experienced it when you tripped the shutter.

During the workshop we will cover the techniques and tools that are needed to center the fantastic world of High Dynamic Range photographs, and how to give those images your own personal style.

Workshop times are Friday April 11 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM and Saturday April 12 from 9:00am – 5:30 pm.

http://outdoorphotogear.ticketleap.com/hdr-photography/dates/Apr-18-2014_at_0700PM

Excavator Teeth in HDR #2

Excavator Teeth in HDR #2

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I will be teaching workshop attendees how to use the powerful NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 software as well as other NIK plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture 3 to create HDR images that range from Hyper Realistic and Super Saturated to pleasing realistic photos. This small group workshop will be extremely hands on, and each attendee will leave understanding the key elements of processing HDR images to create their own style.

Through the use of shared source images and their own photos, participants will be able to see firsthand “how” and “why” to use the vast power of HDR Efex Pro 2 to express their own unique vision for their photography.

Participants should have a basic understanding of their preferred post processing software (Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture) and have it installed on their laptop. Bring your own laptop,  DSLR and camera manual to each session.

If you have NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 make sure it is installed on your laptop.  If you don’t have NIK HDR Efex Pro 2, no worries! You can download a free 30 day trial copy at the workshop.

Topics to be covered include:

• mechanics of shooting, importing, processing and displaying HDR images
• discussion of when and where HDR photography is appropriate
• situations where single images can be treated as HDR images
• using HDR with B&W photography to emphasize depth, texture and contrast
• using HDR to create your own style

Class size is limited to 15 people to optimize interaction and hands on training.  Tickets must be purchased in advance.  Coffee and water will be provided, as well as a refrigerator for your own beverages and food.

Reserve your seat now

http://outdoorphotogear.ticketleap.com/hdr-photography/dates/Apr-18-2014_at_7:00PM

HDR Images of the Current Progress on the Downtown Bridge Project Site

Ohio River Bridges Downtown Crossing Construction Site

Ohio River Bridges Downtown Crossing Construction Site #2

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This HDR image was captured during a visit to the Big Four Bridge in Waterfront Park this past Monday morning. It was created by merging three exposures made at +2, 0 and -2 EV in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2. I finished the image in Aperture 3 by adjusting the sharpness, contrast, exposure and color channels.

Looking out over the new downtown bridge construction from the Big Four Bridge

Ohio River Bridges Downtown Crossing Construction Site #1

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This version of the Ohio River Bridges Project construction progress was captured while walking on the ramp to the Big Four Bridge in Waterfront Park. I was intrigued by the way the shadow from the Big Four Bridge dominated the foreground and referenced the structure of the Kennedy Bridge and the construction crane booms along the construction route. As in the first image I used NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Aperture 3 to do my processing.

The New Bridge Approach Worksite in Waterfront Park

The New Bridge Approach Worksite in Waterfront Park

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This HDR image shows the construction site located in Waterfront Park where the new bridge will be anchored as it crosses the river. The river bank has been extended into the river to provide a platform for the equipment needed to place the pier casings in the river. After the piers are completed the site will be cleared and the original contour of the riverbank will be restored to it’s original contours.

The barge in the foreground has two caissons on it, these caissons are almost 120 feet long and 12 feet in diameter. Once the pier casings are in place and the drillers have bored into the bedrock the caissons will be lowered into them and concrete will be used to fill the piers. This too is a three exposure HDR image processed in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 abd Aperture 3.

 

HDR Images from Around the Ohio River Bridges Project In Louisville, KY

Ironworker working on caisson

Ironworker Working On A Caisson 

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The HDR image above is a three frame bracket set using +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures. I merged the brackets set in NIK HDR EFex Pro 2 and then took it back to Aperture 3 for contrast, color and sharpening adjustments. I then opened it in Topaz FX Lab and added a black border. I chose this image because I liked the composition that I created using the geometric lines of the rebar and the organic lines created by the safety harness and air line and the man’s leg and body.

Excavator Teeth in HDR

Excavator Teeth in HDR

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Same drill here with NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Aperture 3 as the processing tools. I was drawn to this composition by the contrast of the polished steel of the teeth set against the texture of the limestone on the ground. I thought the way the ridges in the gravel were a good counterpoint to the triangular forms of the excavator teeth.

Excavator Teeth in HDR #2

Excavator Teeth in HDR #2

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In this HDR image I followed my normal workflow using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Aperture 3 to create a solid HDR image. I then opened the image in Topaz ReStyle and found a preset that added additional color and gave a new perspective to the excavator teeth. I’m finding that Topaz ReStyle offers a world of possibilities to create memorable images.

Excavator Teeth in HDR and Black and White

Excavator Teeth in HDR and Black and White

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For this version of the excavator teeth I used the same HDR image as a basis and took it into Topaz B&W to convert it. This Black and White version really shows the contrast of steel and gravel. I found the contrast and detail of the gravel and steel to be very interesting elements in the composition too.

Bridge Deck in HDR #1

Bridge Deck in HDR #1

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Bridge Deck in HDR #1 is a shot of the rebar and steel decking of a highway bridge before concrete is poured to form the road surface. This too is a HDR image that I used NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to create using a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures. I applied 60% anti-ghosting to get the flag to render properly. After using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 I returned the image to Aperure 3 for final adjustments to color, contrast and sharpening. My final action was to send the completed HDR image to Photoshop CS5 to straighten the vertical perspective that my 12 mm lens had distorted.

Bridge Deck in HDR #2

Bridge Deck in HDR #2

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I chose this image because I like the composition that is created by the linear elements in the scene. The repetition of the of lines in the steel, in the texture  of the concrete and the rebar loops make this a strong composition. The camera angle and the lines formed by the decking also lead the eye back into the frame to the bridge and cranes on the horizon. Using HDR allowed me to bring out the texture while still retaining the broad dynamic range that shooting this time of the day produced. Once again my software choices were NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Aperture 3.

Caisson during assembly

Caisson during assembly

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Here again I have used line as the dominant aspect for the image. The way the rebar projects into the foreground and then leads your eye into the scene to the linear elements of the bridge in the background is a good example of a dynamic composition. This too is a HDR image that was processed using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Aperture 3 software.

HDR Image of an Inside View of a Caisson During Assembly

HDR Image of an Inside View of a Caisson During Assembly

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This too is a HDR image that relies on line to create a compelling composition. The lines extend from the edges of the frame into a small window at the back that looks out onto the bridge in the distance. My standard method for HDR images was applied to give the image the color and texture I desired.

Finishing the Hammerhead

Finishing the Hammerhead

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This final image today is another case where composition plays a major role in directing the viewer’s eye. The massive concrete “hammer head” with the worker kneeling on it reveals it’s size by juxtaposing the human element against the blue sky, clouds and the diagonal line it forms directs the viewer’s eye into the frame. By using HDR I was able to show the texture on the concrete, the details in the worker’s safety vest and the deep blue sky that a single image would have had trouble rendering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Topaz Labs Software Together to Add Drama to an Image

1929 Monument to Progress

A Monument to Progress From the Art Deco Era

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I was in the mood to experiment yesterday and decided to use this photo of the statue at the Indiana entrance of the Clark Memorial Bridge across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville Indiana as my source image. I first created a HDR image from a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and-2 EV exposures where I applied the Balanced preset with Detail set for Accentuated and Drama set for Deep. I returned the merged file to Aperture 3 for some retouching of dust spots and other standard adjustments. After doing that I created a duplicate file and opened it in Topaz ReStyle where I applied a preset that I happened upon while experimenting with the Landscape presets. I don’t recall which one it is (I should write that stuff down) but I liked the feeling of Art Deco Posters that it gave the image. I also added a texture layer in OnOne Perfect Effects that simulates canvas.

After creating this image I spent a few hours applying different combinations of Topaz ReStyle and OnOne Perfect Effects to several other copies of the same image. It was very exciting to see how many ways I could change the overall feeling of one image simply through application of Various Topaz ReStyle and OnOne Perfect Effects.

1929 Monument to Progress

HDR Image of the Indiana Entrance to the Clark Memorial Bridge in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

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The image above is the source image that I created in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 before experimenting with Topaz ReStyle and OnOne Perfect Effects.

1929 Monument to Progress

There Was a Time When Design Was as Important as Function as in this Monument at the Entrance to the Clark Memorial Bridge in Jeffersonville, Indiana Illustrates.

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This version uses only a single Topaz Restyle preset to convey an entirely different feeling to the HDR source image.

Indiana entrance to the Clark Memorial Bridge #4

Apocalyptic Morning

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For this final image I worked with a HDR image that I then applied a Fiery preset in Topaz ReStyle to before taking it into OnOne Perfect Effects and using layers added a Glow preset and a Texture preset called Black Leather. In both instances I reduced the Opacity of the presets a lot to get this final version.

I had a blast experimenting with all three pieces of software and may do some further experimenting again soon.

HDR Photo of a Man Strolling Across the Clark Memorial Bridge in Louisville KY

Tight shot of a man Strolling along the Clark Memorial Bridge in Louisville Kentucky

Strolling along the Clark Memorial Bridge in Louisville Kentucky

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This HDR image was captured from below the Clark Memorial Bridge in Louisville last fall. I liked the way the bridge beams intersected in the frame and the texture of the rust on them. The man walking on the bridge gave some scale to the photo and added an organic element to an otherwise mechanical scene.

I shot three frames in a bracket of -2, 0 and +2 EV exposures. I merged them using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and applied 60% anti-ghosting to eliminate the ghosting that his movement imparted. After merging the files I returned the image to Aperture 3 for final adjustments. Had I not used HDR techniques the shadows would have been blocked up or the highlights would have been blown out with a single exposure. After trying many of the popular HDR software apps on the market today I have found the anti-ghosting setting in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 is the best I have used. This is especially important to me since I like to include people in my images and that I shoot handheld most of the time.

Setting the First Concrete Form for the North Tower of the Downtown Span, Monotone Version

Setting the First Concrete Form on the North Tower of the Downtown Span

Setting the First Concrete Form on the North Tower of the Downtown Span

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While sorting through my images from last fall I came across this version of the setting of the first concrete form for the north tower of the downtown span. I liked the composition and decided to try it as a monotone image. I used NIK Silver Efex Pro to convert it to monotone and applied a preset for an antique feeling. I then sent it back into Aperture 3 for final processing.

Bridge Piling ala Cadillac Ranch in HDR

HDR image of Two Rows of Piling on the eastern end Spaghetti Junction

Bridge Foundation Piling in Spaghetti Junction

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These large bridge pilings stand almost ten feet into the air. When I first saw them I thought of the art installation Cadillac Ranch located alongside Interstate 40 in Amarillo Texas. I have stopped at Cadillac Ranch each time I have ridden through Amarillo and they have that same feeling of a larger than life presence and iconic mystery. What if the world ended today and a future archeologist were to come upon them? Would they be seen as something akin to Stonehenge or other religious structures? Would anyone even surmise that they were simply a part of the foundation for a super highway?

As I photographed them I enjoyed the way they towered above me. I was also drawn to enter the space they occupied and felt as if I were in a temple or sacred structure. I shot around and inside them for several minutes and then forgot about them until I downloaded that day’s shoot. As I reviewed the shots I was immediately drawn to this image and made it my first choice to process that day.

To create this HDR image I first took the bracket set into NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and then completed it in Aperture 3. By using HDR and a three frame bracket set I was able to capture the texture and tones inside the pilings and the lettering and colors on their surface while still maintaining the faint white clouds in the mottled blue sky. After that I decided to experiment with Topaz Adjust which added texture and tonality to the final result, seen above, when I applied the Spicify preset and made some minor adjustments to it’s settings. Even though there is some slight haloing along the top edges of the pilings I really like the results.