Tag: cars

Photographing Louisville at Night From The Ohio River Bridges Project, Downtown Span, Tower Three

Louisville's spaghetti junction at night from atop the western tower on pier three of the Ohio River Bridges Project.
Louisville’s spaghetti junction at night from atop the western tower on pier three of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

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A couple of weeks ago I climbed up on the western tower on Pier Three to shoot the Ohio River Bridges Project Downtown Span and Louisville at night. I was 300 feet above the river standing on the top of the tower and decided to use long shutter speeds to capture the light trails of the traffic moving through Spaghetti Junction. I really like the way the colors of the light change across the images especially the green of work areas vs the orange of the existing sodium lights along the roadways. I was also interested in the flow of the roads and the way the light trails emphasized their paths.

Louisville's spaghetti junction at night from atop the western tower on pier three of the Ohio River Bridges Project. #2
Louisville’s spaghetti junction at night from atop the western tower on pier three of the Ohio River Bridges Project. #2

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In this version I purposely emphasized the orange lighted areas to contrast them with the deep blues in the darker areas. The little hits of green around the construction offices really popped and added another dimension to the image.

 

Kennedy Bridge on I-65 at night seen from above .
Kennedy Bridge on I-65 at night seen from above.

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This shot above the Kennedy Bridge uses the orange of the roadway and along the river’s shore as unifying elements to integrate the foreground with the distant skyline.

Night in Waterfront Park as seen from atop the western tower on pier three of the Downtown Span on the Ohio River Bridges Project.
Night in Waterfront Park as seen from atop the western tower on pier three of the Downtown Span on the Ohio River Bridges Project.

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The final pair of images in this post show Waterfront Park and the Big Four Bridge lit up. I used the contrast of the straight lines of the bridge tower and crane boom as counterpoints to the arcing curves of the park to create this composition.

Night in Waterfront Park as seen from atop the western tower on pier three of the Downtown Span on the Ohio River Bridges Project. #2
Night in Waterfront Park as seen from atop the western tower on pier three of the Downtown Span on the Ohio River Bridges Project. #2

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In this final image the Big Four Bridge in the background and the lights in the park really stand out from the reflected light on the concrete tower and the yellow crane boom. The purple of the Big Four Bridge lighting is a great compliment to the green and aqua of the park lights.

I shot in three frame bracket sets of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures for HDR merging into single images. I used NIK HDR eFex Pro 2 and Adobe Camera Raw to do most of the processing as well as Photoshop CS5 to do some lens correction.

Experimenting with HDR Black and White Processing

Since early January I’ve been experimenting HDR Black and White processing. For the accompanying photos I usually began with a color HDR image that I then processed again with Topaz B&W, onOne Perfect B&W or NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 to create the HDR Black and White version. Through this combination of processing techniques and apps I have rediscovered my love of black and white photography.

The workflow that I have adopted for HDR Black and White images usually begins by using a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures that I first merge using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and apply the Balanced Preset with Accentuated Detail. After merging them I take the merged file into Adobe Camera Raw for initial adjustments to fill light and shadows as well as a curves adjustment. I also adjust Saturation and Luminance in ACR before opening the image in Photoshop CS5. In Photoshop CS5 I add a new layer where I usually start with lens correction filter and an unsharp mask filter. At this point I may decide to crop the image in order to refine the composition.

After I am satisfied with my color HDR version I duplicate it and add a new layer with Topaz B&W, onOne Perfect B&W or NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 to create the HDR Black and White version. The more I experiment with these B&W apps the more I find myself using Topaz B&W as my first choice. I really like being able to build my own presets with special feature such as edge treatments and opacity when I am seeking a hand tinted effect.

Vintage Motorcycle Engine Detail
Vintage Motorcycle Engine Detail

Click on any image to begin a light box slideshow of all the images in this gallery.

I think this has been a good exercise for me and helps me see more possibilities for many of the images I love to capture. HDR Black and White photography really excites my creative side and lets me reveal another facet of the world as I see it.

Exploring and Building Presets In Topaz B&W Effects and NIK Analog Pro Plugins

This post looks at using Topaz Software with various NIK Software to create your own plugin presets for HDR photography.

Sam’s Volvo Build

Sam's Passion Black and White HDR version
Sam’s Passion Black and White HDR version

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This photo of my friend Sam was taken when he was building a Volvo streetrod in 2013. Sam is an incredibly talented car builder with several cars to his name. He usually chooses cars that other folks ignore for one reason or another. His past projects include a Ford Anglia, Nash Rambler, 53 Willys Hardtop, 60 Ford Falcon and a 60s Studebaker Lark. His reputation for sound construction has people lining up to buy his creations even before they are finished. Sam likes them “loud and nasty” and he usually manages to stuff a V-8 into these small cars.

Sam’s passion is chassis engineering and he likes to work with unibody cars. This Volvo was the latest one to roll out his shop door and like all most of his previous builds it was sold in a matter of days. I always enjoy a visit to his garage because I never know what he’s going to tackle next. The night I shot this image he was totally engrossed in what he was working on and that gave me a chance to shoot without his knowing what I was shooting.

This image is a black and white conversion of a color HDR image that I converted using Aperture 3. All adjustments were done with the tools in Aperture 3 which is still my favorite image editing software. I entered it last night in the Louisville Photographic Society monthly competition for “People Working” and it took First Prize.

Sam's Passion Color HDR Version
Sam’s Passion Color HDR Version

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I am including the color HDR version that I used to show the difference that the two processes have on the same image. This image is from a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures that I merged using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and completed in Aperture 3.

Sam at work on his Volvo Project.
Sam at work on his Volvo Project.

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Sam's Garage in Black and White
Sam’s Garage in Black and White

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I’ll finish this post with another color HDR image that I processed as a black and white using a preset in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 that I adjusted to my taste. One thing to notice is the way that HDR allowed me to expose for the shadows in the garage and also expose another frame that allowed the fence and the outdoors to render in the final image.

Using Topaz Adjust to Process Vintage Tin Photos

Rusty 1940 Chevrolet Detail
Rusty 1940 Chevrolet Detail

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On my motorcycle ride up US 31 yesterday I came across a 1940 Chevrolet sedan sitting outside BABBS Auto Collision Center in Sellersburg Indiana. It was around 12 o’clock and the sun was pretty high in the sky which is almost always regarded as a poor time to shoot anything. I decided to stop anyway and shoot some rusty vintage tin for processing with Topaz Adjust. I knew from experience that the Spicify preset in Topaz Adjust would reveal a rainbow of iridescent colors in weathered dark paint that is streaked with iron oxides from the rust around it. As you can see I was well rewarded and captured some incredible textures and colors in this image. I finished it with a small black border that just felt right to me when I applied it.

Rusty 1940 Chevrolet Detail #2
Rusty 1940 Chevrolet Detail #2

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Here’s another version of the same car from another frame that I captured with a normal exposure value. The previous image started out as a 2 stops underexposed frame and this normal exposure produced even more iridescence when the Spicify preset was applied in Topaz Adjust. As with the previous image I added that small black border I have come to like for these sorts of images.

Rusty 1940 Chevrolet Detail #3
Rusty 1940 Chevrolet Detail #3

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Same basic processing as the two previous images using Topaz Adjust and the Spicify preset.

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I have an affiliate relationship with Topaz Labs, and earn a small commission on any sales that are made by using the Topaz Labs link below, which helps support this site. Even if you aren’t ready to make a purchase you can use the link to access a Free 30 day Trial of Topaz Labs products to determine whether or not they will fit your own digital workflow.

http://www.topazlabs.com/705.html

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Faux HDR with Topaz Adjust

Patina Pickup
Patina Pickup

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Today I’m wrapping up my automotive theme of the past week with this shot from the NSRA Streetrod Nationals a couple of years ago. Unlike most of my current work this image is a single frame which means it isn’t a true HDR image. I used Topaz Adjust to create the overall feeling of the shot and emphasize the sky and clouds while still rendering the truck’s shadow detail. By working with Topaz Adjust I was able to pull out the wonderful colors and tones that were in the image.

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s posts and writings. My goal with SpeedDemon2 is to share my workflow and discoveries as I evaluate and apply the many plug-ins that are out there today. I won’t claim that I’m an expert with any of them but after several years of exploring them I do have a pretty good handle on their strengths and their shortcomings. Plug-ins won’t make a poor composition or a badly exposed image better but when applied to photographs that are well thought out and  well executed they can definitely add interest and a personal style to your work.

Topaz, NIK and OnOne are really expanding the capabilities and usability of their products as they learn from their customers what they, the end users, want and need. The ability to combine presets, modify the presets and also create your own presets is rapidly expanding the range of styles and results we can get without spending hours or days inside Photoshop. Adobe’s decision to stop selling it’s creative suite and offering a subscription only model is, in my opinion, driving this expansion of features and functionality and will ultimately benefit all of us who enjoy creating photographic art.

On that note I want to mention that Topaz Labs has added another incredible program to their already extensive line. Topaz ReStyle is their latest offering and from my short exploration yesterday I think it will be a great addition to my workflow. ReStyle contains over 1000 presets and each one is fully customizable to allow the artist to fully explore his or her vision for their images. It is on sale at an introductory price of  $29.99 (the regular price after 08/31/2013 is $59.99)with the coupon code restyleit.

Use this link to go to the Topaz Labs website and download a free 30 day trial or take advantage of the introductory pricing which is good until August 31, 2013.

http://www.topazlabs.com/705.html

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Using OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 7.5 with HDR Images

Old School Hotrod
Old School Hotrod #1

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I took an HDR image that I created in NIK HDR Efex Pro and started experimenting with it in OnOne Perfect B&W to see what I could get from it. The OnOne Perfect Photo Suite is very powerful. It allows me to work in layers so that I can turn on and off each individual layer to see whether I like what it does in conjunction with other layers. For the first image here I applied the Ambrotype preset and then made several adjustments to the paper tone and silver tone, added an Emulsion border and adjusted the contrast and sharpening. Using the HDR image as a starting point helped render the interior details while still maintaining the surface textures on the car.

Old School Hotrod #2
Old School Hotrod #2

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This is the HDR image I started with. As you can see there is a lot of color in the image due to the patina of age. Most of the color in the glass and the wooden steering wheel was too muted for my taste until I adjusted the separate color channels in Aperture 3 after merging my bracket set in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2.

Old School Hotrod #3
Old School Hotrod #3

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For this last image I used the Perfect Effects application and applied a preset that changed the overall color of the image yet allowed me to emphasize the yellow and red in the window sticker. I can’t recall which preset I started with but I’m sure that I adjusted it’s effect to get the result I was looking for. I seldom stop with the base settings in these presets as I consider them to be starting points rather than end results.

The point of this post is to show that digital image processing opens the door to many options when creating art photography. It’s no longer necessary to spend hours in Photoshop building an image only to discover that it doesn’t convey your vision for the piece. By applying plug-in presets the artist is able to look at variations rapidly and decide what they want final result to be. Once a preset has been selected the artist can then make their own changes to it and emphasize the aspects of the image that are important for their vision of the image.