A panoramic HDR image of waterfront Park and the Louisville skyline under a dramatic sunset.
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Not much to say about this image except that I like the bridge silhouette against the remnants of a summer storm that was passing through Louisville. I captured the image from the east side of the ramp leading up onto the Big Four Bridge. It’s from a single frame and simple processing in Aperture 3 was all that it needed to finish it.
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This image is from a photo shoot I did last Thursday evening after shooting at the Pegasus Parade earlier in the afternoon. I wasn’t ready to go home yet so we headed down to Waterfront Park to explore it further and capture some images with Derby Festival goers using the park. We walked around the park for a couple of hours and wound up on my favorite place to shoot Waterfront Park from, the Big Four Bridge. I had been up there the prior afternoon and evening to photograph the Great Steamboat Race but I really wasn’t happy with a lot of the landscapes I shot after the race ended. I wanted to capture the dramatic sky that was visible Thursday so we hung out on the bridge waiting for sunset.
I shot my normal three frame bracket set of -2, 0 and +2 EV for this HDR image. Today I made a change in my processing and started my post processing in NIK Sharpener Pro 3. I allowed the program to determine the amount of RAW pre-sharpening to apply and then I opened the sharpened RAW files in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2. I merged the three frames in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and kept the anti-ghosting set at 20%. I then applied the Deep #1 preset which I tweaked slightly to improve contrast and accent the highlights and shadows. Once that was finished I returned the HDR image to Aperture 3 where I spent some time adjusting the individual color channels as well as the vibrance and saturation of each one. Finally I applied my sharpening and a very light vignette to the image.
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As Hurricane Isaac moved north on Saturday I headed for Waterfront Park to capture what I hoped would be a dramatic sunrise. Isaac came past Louisville Saturday from the southwest. As a result most of the clouds were still off to the west of Louisville and the edge of the storm was just coming into Louisville early Saturday. This gave me an opportunity to photograph a rather dramatic sky before the body of the storm settled in north of Kentucky across central Indiana.
Instead of using my entire bracket set for this image I decided to try using the +2, 0, and -3 Exposure Values, three exposures instead of the six I shot, to see if I could produce a realistic HDR image. I found that doing this really lightened the load on my iMac processor and markedly speeded up the merging process in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2. My iMac is at a disadvantage when using the latest software because the GPU is too weak for some software to use so all processing must be done by the CPU. It doesn’t affect the final images but it does slow down my processing time considerably if I must use all images in a bracket set.
I noticed some Chromatic Aberration in the trees so I employed the Chromatic Aberration feature in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and removed a purple fringing that was occurring in the image. I used the Deep 2 preset in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to tone map and adjust the tonality before returning the image to Aperture 3 for final processing. The rental Nikon D90 I’m using has a lot of spots on the sensor but since it isn’t mine I’m not taking any chances of damaging it by attempting to clean it. Instead I must go over each image with a fine tooth comb looking for sensor spots. Aperture 3 does good job of removing these spots when I use the Retouch tool Spot and Patch feature. It is tedious work and I’ll be happy when my camera is back from repair, fresh and clean, and in proper working order. I also adjusted the Vibrancy and Sharpened the image before exporting it for the web.
I took this image last week from the Clark Memorial Bridge. I used five exposure values +2, +1, 0, -1, -2 to capture the scene. I then processed them in NIK HDR Efex Pro to merge and tonemap the image. I also reprocessed the merged image with the anti-ghosting feature set at medium to clean up the vehicles on the highway and any ghosting in the clouds. I chose the Realistic Strong preset as my starting point and then tweaked the sliders until I had the colors and details where I wanted them. After that I returned the image to Aperture 3 for a little boost to the color temperature and sharpening.
I am especially pleased with the way the sky is reflected in the YUM Center in this image. I had been trying for several weeks to catch a sunset that was dramatic enough and high enough in the sky to reflect in the building’s convex glass. I checked cloud maps every evening for almost a month in hopes of being able to capture a dramatic sky such as this one. Many times the clouds would be where I wanted them 30 minutes before sunset only to fade away just as the sun set. On this particular evening the cloud map showed a lot of clouds out to the west so I set up my camera and tripod on the Clark Memorial Bridge and waited for their arrival. I was rewarded by these clouds moving in at just the moment the sun was setting.
Studying your location and accessing relevant sources, such as the cloud map, can really help when seeking to capture an image that you see in your mind’s eye. Keep this in mind the next time you wonder why you can’t seem to catch the scene you are seeking, patience and planning will eventually pay off if you do your part too.