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.

 

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 Photos of Progress on the Ohio River Bridge North Tower

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North tower, R-5, base with Ironworkers climbing and tying rebar. Sunny, cloudless, day with 3 people visible on scaffolding.

Going Up

The Ironworkers and Carpenters have been very busy over the winter and the North Tower of the Downtown Span is progressing well. In this first image you can see the tower base as it stands today. The Ironworkers are tying the rebar for the next section and as soon as that is done the Carpenters will form that section for the next concrete pour.

I regret that I was under the weather for the first two months of this year and unable to get out to the Ohio River Bridges project very often. In looking back at the images from the end of 2013 I can see that there has been a great deal of progress. I’m back on the job now and will be posting on a regular basis as I did throughout the end of summer and into fall.

All of these images today are HDR images processed in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Aperture 3. As is my standard practice I shot everything handheld in three frame bracket sets of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures. I applied 60% anti-ghosting during the merging of these three exposures and used the Balanced Preset as my starting point. After merging them and applying the preset I went back into the tone mapping settings and changed the Detail slider to Accentuated and the Drama slider to Deep. That is all I did in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 before returning the merged file to Aperture 3 where I adjusted the color channels, sharpening, contrast and applied a small vignette.

HDR photo of Four Ironworkers on North Tower landing supplies

Four Ironworkers on North Tower landing supplies. HDR image

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In this image the Ironworkers are working with the crane Operator to lift more materials onto the tower scaffolding. They have to communicate with the Crane Operator using hand signals and radios to safely manage material transfers. I am always amazed at the skill of these crane operators to place everything from a small bundle of steel reinforcing to massive concrete forms on the job with pinpoint accuracy.

HDR Photo of Carpenters Removing the concrete form from the eastern base of the North Tower #2

HDR Photo of Carpenters Removing the concrete form from the eastern base of the North Tower #2

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In this HDR image the concrete form is being removed from the angled surface of the eastern side of the eastern pier of the North Tower. The carpenters have unbolted it and rigged it for the crane Operator to lift it and transfer it to a waiting barge until it is needed again. Seeing the Carpenters alongside these forms gives scale to their size. Once again the Crane Operator and the Carpenters are working through radio and hand signals to safely move this massive piece of concrete form.

HDR Photo of Carpenters Removing the concrete form from the eastern base of the North Tower #1

HDR Photo of Carpenters Removing the concrete form from the eastern base of the North Tower #1

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For this HDR image I chose to shoot the removal of the concrete form in a vertical format to better capture the cranes and the upward momentum that the project exudes as it progresses.

HDR photo of the North Tower Bases and Cranes

HDR photo of the North Tower Bases and Cranes

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This HDR image shows both bases for the North Towers of the Ohio River Bridges Project Downtown Span. The progress that is being made really comes out in this HDR photo. The concrete forms have been removed from the base of the western side of the towers and scaffolding is surrounding the transition point as the base morphs into it final cylindrical shape which will be approximately 150 feet in the air when it is completed.

HDR Photo of The North Tower Base Cooling Manifold Lift

HDR Photo of The North Tower Base Cooling Manifold Being Lifted Into Place

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This HDR image shows a cooling manifold being lifted into place. It is used to distribute cooling water through the concrete as it cures. When concrete cures there is a lot of heat inside it; this is due to the catalytic reaction of the materials that are used to make concrete. Without cooling this reaction would cause the concrete to overheat and lose it’s strength. The cooling process goes on until sensors built into the structure provide the information to show that it is safe to stop cooling the concrete and allow it to finish curing.

I’m really glad to get back to shooting the Ohio River Bridges Project and posting my work again. I hope that small hiccup at the beginning of the year won’t be repeated and I can complete my project of documenting the Ohio River Bridges Project and the men and women who are doing it.

HDR Images of a Winter Day in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork

Red Barn in Winter in an Ice coated landscape in The Parklands of Floyd's Fork

Red Barn in Winter in HDR

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This image is an HDR image captured in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork in Louisville Kentucky. The trees and landscape were covered in ice which was creating a magical prismatic sparkle when the sun shown on them. I wanted to capture those colors and in making that attempt learned just how difficult that is.

As I reviewed the images back in my studio I could see faint hints of the colors that were being reflected as the suns rays diffracted through the ice but nothing was as spectacular as what I saw in person. I realized that my human experience was much more intense than my camera could record. Even with that discovery I’m still happy with these HDR images that resulted from that shoot.

Frozen Wetlands in The Parklands of Floyd's Fork

Frozen wetlands in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork

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I especially liked the way the sun was illuminating the tree line while a cloud was shading the foreground in this image. The reflections on the ice around the vegetation are a nice way to bring the light forward in the scene while still reinforcing the sense of cold in the photo.

This image is also HDR and I think it really shows how extending the dynamic range through shooting brackets for HDR, with a strongly backlit subject, can capture a broad enough dynamic range to render the scene.

Winter scene of ice and bridge

Floyd’s Fork flowing under a bridge in The Parklands.

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When I’m shooting landscapes I like to include man made structures in the scene to show how they can exist in harmony with the natural environment. This bridge abutment with it’s strong geometric forms contrasts nicely with the flowing water of Floyd’s Fork. The bridge itself forma a frame to the sunlight’s reflection on the water. The railing along the top contrasts and reinforces the ice coated branches rising above it too.

This too is another case where the use of HDR technique in shooting, a three exposure bracket two stops apart, and HDR processing allowed me to capture information in the shadows as well as in the highlights. The extremely wide dynamic range of this scene could not have been captured as easily, if at all, with a single exposure. That is the main reason I totally embrace HDR photography even when I’m striving for strong realism in my images.

Ice coated landscape in The Parklands of Floyd's Fork

Ice coated landscape in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork

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I liked this landscape because the sun was filtering through the trees creating a starburst of light while casting strong shadows across the landscape. As in several of these HDR images the HDR techniques of shooting and processing allowed me to capture the feeling of cold while gathering enough detail to make the image interesting.

Winter Sunset in The Parklands of Floyd's Fork

Winter Sunset in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork

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I like the contrast of the complimentary colors of oranges and blues that are a major component of this composition. As in all of today’s images the use of HDR was the determining factor in the success of this shoot.

In closing today I’d like to say that whatever your feelings about HDR photography it has a place in photography. If you haven’t explored high dynamic range photography you are missing a valuable method that can open new vistas and expand your vision. Go on give it a try you too may find it is a wonderful tool that will allow you to express yourself in ways you have never before found possible.

 

 

Waterfront Park Winter in HDR

Louisville Skyline and the Ohio River Shoreline in Winter

HDR Winter Sunset Louisville Skyline and the Ohio River Shoreline in Winter

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Last week I decided to see what Waterfront Park looked like after several days of sub-zero weather and a couple of snow storms had blanketed the park. I wanted to emphasize the feeling of the coldness and crispness that winter on the Ohio River produces. I chose to shoot the above image because it seemed to encompass so many elements that identify the city and at the same time reinforce the brittleness and chill that was in the air. I was drawn to the complimentary colors of the gold in the sunset and the blue shadows on the shoreline. The river had been dropping for several days and there were shelves of ice layered one above the other at the river’s edge.

I knew going in that I was going to make these images as HDR images and shot my customary bracket set of three exposures at +2, 0 and -2 EV. I merged the three files into one high dynamic range image using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2. After merging them I applied the Balanced preset, adjusted the Detail slider to Accentuated and the Drama slider to Deep before returning the merged file to Aperture 3 for final processing. I chose to make these images in HDR because there was such a broad dynamic range in the scene from very dark areas along the shore to sunlight streaming through the bridge and around the skyline in the back of the images. Whenever there is such a wide dynamic range I find HDR processing allows me to show the scene as I saw it during my shooting.

Winter Evening in the Swing Garden

Winter Evening in the Swing Garden

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 This second image is also a three frame bracket set taken much later in the evening. I was hoping to convey the quietness and solitude that a winter evening in Waterfront Park offers to those who venture there in January. I liked the way the street lamps illuminated the pathways and the shadows they cast across the ground. The lights on the Kennedy Bridge in the background are direct color compliments to the cobalt sky and clouds while the muted greens and yellows of the grass and street lamps that occupy the middle and foreground carry the eye along toward the river.

My HDR processing for this image was very similar to the first image though I did spend a little more time adjusting the color channels to get the feeling that I experienced as I surveyed the scene and decided to capture it. As with the previous image my goal here was to reinforce the icy cold that we are experiencing this winter here in Louisville.

Strolling Under The Big Four Bridge in January

Under The Big Four Bridge in January

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I have been photographing the Big Four Bridge for several years and because of that I have to really study the scene to come up with something fresh to shoot. For this image I wanted to capture not only the beautiful sunset but also the snow on the ground and the feeling of winter. Once again the complimentary colors of the oranges of the sunset and the icy blue of the shadows were primary elements in my composition.

This image too is another high dynamic range image using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Aperture 3 to process it. My goal with my HDR work is to present a realistic, if heightened, vision of natural and manmade elements that evoke strong feelings in the viewer.

 

 

 

 

 

Bright Blue Morning in Waterfront Park

HDR Bright Blue Morning in Louisville

Bright Blue January Morning in Louisville

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This HDR image of Waterfront Park and the Ohio River was taken from the Big Four Bridge a couple of weeks ago. It was a cold crisp morning and the blue sky seemed Continue reading