Thunder Over Louisville Air Show and Fireworks Display, April 18, 2015

Four propeller driven airplanes flying in tight formation trailing smoke during the Thunder Over Louisville air show April 18, 2015.

Four propeller driven airplanes flying in tight formation trailing smoke during the Thunder Over Louisville air show April 18, 2015. #1

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Last Saturday, April 18, 2015 was the annual fireworks display and air show, Thunder Over Louisville, in Louisville Kentucky. Thunder Over Louisville is the kick off event for the Kentucky Derby Festival and the largest fireworks show in North America. Thunder Over Louisville starts around 3:00 in the afternoon with a large air show and continues until almost 10:00 pm when the last burst of fireworks explodes in the Grand Finale.

I was invited by a good friend of mine, Ted Heitzman, to join him this year on the Belle of Louisville as his guest. Ted has been on the Belle of Louisville every year since Thunder Over Louisville began. He is an avid photographer and chooses the Belle as the premier spot to witness the fireworks every year. Usually one of the two barges used to launch the fireworks in stationed directly in front of the Third Street Wharf where the Belle of Louisville is anchored but due to very high water in the Ohio River the barges were moved about 1/4 of a mile upstream this year.

The day of Thunder Over Louisville was almost perfect; the sky was filled with a wonderful cloud pattern and the air was clear. I don’t usually come to Thunder Over Louisville to see the air show but this year I joined Ted early in the day and caught most of the air show.

At sunset the main event began when two biplanes towing American flags flew in from the east. The flags were illuminated by searchlights as the National Anthem was played over the PA system. After several loud booms the fireworks show began and as usual it was spectacular. Rockets streaking into the air, from the Clark Memorial Bridge and the two fireworks barges, lit the sky.Thunder over Louisville is overwhelming in it’s scope and always wows the crowd. This year was a little different due to the placement of the barges but it was still amazing to see and hear.

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Early February in Section One of the Ohio River Bridges Project

Early February in Section One of the Ohio River Bridges Project I captured the images in this post. On this particular morning I was scouting the area around Adams Street into Main Street at Slugger Field looking for photos that would use the early morning light. The slight filter of the high thin clouds softened the light slightly and illuminated the scenes wonderfully. I hope you enjoy them.

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Carpenters Placing Concrete for a Foundation.

Laborers Placing Concrete for a Foundation.

The people in the first two images are of the laborers who place and finish the wet concrete to build anything from a foundation to a roadway. After the Carpenters build the forms the Laborers take over; they place the concrete and finish it. The object hanging in the air is a concrete bucket is carrying a load of wet concrete to the Laborers for placement. Once that is done and the concrete has set the forms are removed and moved to the next place they are needed.

Carpenters Placing Concrete for a Foundation. #2

Carpenters Placing Concrete for a Foundation. #2

In the second image the concrete bucket is nearly in place. Standing on the form is a Laborer with a radio directing the Crane Operator and the load into place. After this bucket is unloaded the Laborers will vibrate the freshly poured concrete to consolidate it and eliminate any air pockets, etc. While they do that the bucket is carried back to the concrete delivery truck to be filled again. Once that is done and the concrete has set the forms are removed and moved to the next place they are needed.

I processed both these images in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS5. After that I opened them in onOne Perfect Enhance and applied the Magic Landscape preset. I also added a subtle vignette while in onOne Perfect Enhance. These are not HDR images but they still have the vibrant edge I like in my work without the attendant headaches of merging, anti-ghosting and tone mapping. I think it will give me a more friendly workflow that simply builds on my experience with Aperture 1,2 &3, PS CS5 and ACR.

Pile Driver and H Beams

Pile Driver and H Beams

I really dug the way these steel H beams led my eye into this scene. As soon as I saw it with that intense hot sun glancing off them; I knew I was going to shoot everything and include the sun. Every time I look at this image my eye races into the frame from the simple linear foreground until it suddenly slams into a barrier of vertical forms. Suddenly the background streams into the sky as if reaching for the sun and the stardust that they, and we, are all made from.

The BIG BANG BABY!…  the beginning and the end all rolled into one… just like us the universe is dying even as it is born… just the natural order of things… the BIG CIRCLE Theory… can’t stop it… wouldn’t want to…

Pile Driver and H Beams. #2

Pile Driver and H Beams. #2

The landscape version of that same scene seems to reverse the effect as if the H beams are hurtling toward the viewer. By simply getting a little lower and cutting off the mast on the pile driver crane I was able to elicit a different sense of movement within the frame. The triangle formed  the highway bridge and the beams on the ground on the right side of the image shoots the eye into the frame where it ricochets off the background and races straight back to the viewer. Once again I find the intense reflection of the sun on the steel charges the scene with energy and references the origin of life on our planet.

I also processed the two images above from single exposures using Adobe Camera Raw, PS CS5 and onOne Perfect Enhance

Brian Kirker operating a bucket

Brian Kirker operating a bucket while laborers tramp down fill around a drain line they are installing.

Alog Adams Street

 

Road Deck in Place. HDR Version

Road Deck in Place. HDR Version

 

Road Deck in Place. B&W Version

Road Deck in Place. B&W Version

 

 

Adobe Camera Raw Color Versions of Yesterday’s B&W Images

Today I am sharing the color versions of yesterday’s B&W images. All are from a single frame exposure of the scene that I processed using Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS5. In nearly all cases I needed to add fill light and boost the blacks in Adobe Camera Raw. While in Adobe Camera Raw I also made a minor Curves adjustment and then used the HSL adjustments to boost saturation and luminance. I have found that I get good results for the sky by first boosting saturation and then lowering luminance.

After doing most of my work in Adobe Camera Raw I then took the files back into Photoshop CS5 where I used layers to lens correct and sharpen the final image. I am still experimenting with this workflow and may be using it more in the future in lieu of creating HDR versions using the entire three frame bracket sets. I will probably continue shooting for possible HDR though because I like having the option to merge multiple exposures when needed.

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William Moylan at work surveying the towers for the Downtown Span

William Moylan at work surveying the towers for the Downtown Span

Carpenters placing a support beam for the "dance floor" which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.#2

Carpenters placing a support beam for the “dance floor” which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.#2

Carpenters placing a support beam for the "dance floor" which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.

Carpenters placing a support beam for the “dance floor” which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.

Crane on barge

Crane on barge

Carpenters placing a support beam for the "dance floor" which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.#3

Carpenters placing a support beam for the “dance floor” which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.#3

Topaz B&W Effects On Sale

Today’s post of Black and White images from the Ohio River Bridges Project were all processed using Topaz B&W Effects. I have tried several other B&W conversion apps and I really like Topaz B&W Effects better than any of the others. Topaz B&W Effects is a software plug-in that helps you convert color photos into beautiful monochrome images. It uses a unique B&W conversion engine that emphasizes tone and texture in order to help you get B&W images that pop.

Topaz B&W Effects is on sale for $39.99 with the code marbw until March 31, 2015.

I first processed all of these images in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS5 as color photos before adding another layer with Topaz B&W Effects. In each case I applied the various color filters to see which one gave me the results I liked. I was surprised by how responsive the filters were and how easy it was to increase or decrease the amount and see in real time what worked. I then adjusted the silver and paper tones and added some different borders all while in the Topaz B&W Effects plug-in.

Carpenters placing a support beam for the "dance floor" which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.#3 - Topaz B&W Version

Carpenters placing a support beam for the “dance floor” which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.#3 – Topaz B&W Version

 Click on any image to open a light box and slide show.

The next three images in this post show how I was able to affect the toning of the silver and paper to give them a warmer feeling. I really like this feature as a way to subtly change the paper and silver colors to give each image a more personal feel.

Carpenters placing a support beam for the "dance floor" which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.#2 - Topaz B&W Version

Carpenters placing a support beam for the “dance floor” which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam.#2 – Topaz B&W Version

 Click on any image to open a light box and slide show.

Another nice feature of Topaz B&W Effects is that it remembers the last settings you used when you reopen it with another image. For these three images all I had to do was open them and apply the “Last Settings Used” option. Topaz B&W Effects makes it easy to maintain continuity between images when you are editing several photos from the same shoot.

William Moylan at work surveying the towers for the Downtown Span- Topaz B&W Version

William Moylan at work surveying the towers for the Downtown Span- Topaz B&W Version

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A recurring theme in Topaz B&W Effects is that it helps you replicate traditional workflows with a modern twist. For example, traditionally you control tone with color filters, but in B&W Effects you can tweak the specific color and intensity of that filter.

 

Carpenters placing a support beam for the "dance floor" which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam. - Topaz B&W Version

Carpenters placing a support beam for the “dance floor” which will support the concrete forms for another bridge support beam. – Topaz B&W Version

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The final image here is cooler toned and incorporates a thin border that is part of the finishing tab of adjustments. All I had to do was hit the reset button in the Topaz B&W menu and then start over adjusting paper and silver tone. There are 15 border styles to use from soft or sharp to black or white borders.

Crane on barge - Topaz B&W Version

Crane on barge – Topaz B&W Version

 Click on any image to open a light box and slide show.

Have you ever converted a B&W image and been surprised at how flat it looks? You’ll never have that problem again. Topaz B&W Effects is an end-to-end workflow for B&W photography that will help you consistently create stunning images.

Another example: traditionally you’d have to manually dodge and burn your photos for good contrast. While Topaz B&W Effects still lets you to do this, it also offers a faster way: the Adaptive Exposure feature takes inspiration from modern HDR processing techniques to quickly create incredible tonal contrast and texture detail.

Disclaimer: I include links to the products I use when writing about them. These links allow me to earn a small commission on any purchases made through them. It is a small part of how I earn money from my photography.

Images from the Kentucky Approach to the Downtown Span

Carpenters in Section One during construction of the columns for the Kentucky approach to the Downtown Span.

Carpenters in Section One during construction of the columns for the Kentucky approach to the Downtown Span.

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The first image in this post is looking southeast from within the Waterfront Park across River Road. The columns will carry the ramps as the three Interstate highways converge to move traffic onto the Downtown Span. The large tubes on lying on the ground are concrete forms that were used to build the columns.

As you can see there is a lot happening as the carpenters and ironworkers go about their trades to build these massive columns.Things were really moving fast around the Kentucky Approach to the Downtown Span of the Ohio River Bridges Project. In late February the weather was crazy; moving between balmy spring days and frigid winter days with snow and ice. The shots in this post were taken as work resumed after one of the snow storms and the light was amazing.

William Moylan at work surveying the towers for the Downtown Span

William Moylan at work surveying the towers for the Downtown Span

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One of the trades that people don’t often recognize is that of the surveyors. These men and women are members of the Carpenters Union and are a vital component of the project. Surveyors, like William Moylan, seen here on the plinth of Tower 3, are constantly monitoring and measuring the project to make certain that everything is properly aligned.

Surveying the towers

Surveying the towers

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This shot was taken after one of the deep freezes, that happened in February, had begun to thaw releasing mini icebergs into the river.The image shows some of the surveyor’s equipment up close. On this day Surveyor William Moylan was checking to make sure that his measurements were accurate using a newly calibrated tool. He told me that this device had confirmed that all the measurements they had taken so far are right on the money.

The new bridge towers are rising.

The new bridge towers are rising.

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This is the scene looking north from the Kentucky Approach. The point where I was shooting from is between the existing bridge and the new bridge’s towers. Just about eighteen months ago this same shot wouldn’t have shown the towers in the river or on the shore.

The new bridge towers are rising  for the Downtown Span

The new bridge towers are rising for the Downtown Span

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This image shows the six towers that will carry the new downtown span when the bridge is completed. In the middle ground you can see the section of road deck that has been installed on Tower Four and behind that can be seen the road deck structure on Tower Five.

All the images in this post are from the “normal” exposure of 0 EV in my HDR bracket set of -2, 0 and +2 EV exposures. By using Adobe Camera Raw I was able to process these images without resorting to merging all three frames into a single image.