Tag: snow showers

Panoramic HDR Sunsets Over Louisville Waterfront

Snow Cover in Waterfront Park HDR Panorama
Panoramic Snow Scene of Louisville Waterfront Park and Louisville Skyline at Sunset in HDR

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This panorama was captured yesterday evening as another winter storm was approaching Louisville. I wanted to shoot in Louisville Waterfront Park while it was covered in snow to capture the feeling of winter there. Louisville hasn’t had a winter with this much snow in many years and I wanted to get as much as I could before the temperature changes and it melts. I was walking up the access ramp to the Big Four bridge but didn’t take time to set up my tripod when I shot a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures at f11. That decision was made in order to shoot quickly and get as many photos as possible before I set up my tripod on the bridge itself and the light faded. In retrospect I should have opened up my aperture because the overexposed frames were blurred due to the long shutter speed needed to capture the low light levels in the scene.

Once I started processing the bracket sets I discovered that all my handheld frames that were overexposed were blurred from camera movement. This left me with only an underexposed exposure and a normal exposure to work with for my HDR merger. I decided to use only those two exposures, -2 and 0 EV, in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and see what sort of results I would get. Much to my surprise the merged files had great detail in the shadow and highlight areas even though I wasn’t using any overexposed frames. I merged the two frames, applied the Balanced preset, adjusted the Detail slider to Accentuated and the Drama slider to Deep and saved the resulting HDR files back into Aperture 3. After I had done that for the nine frames I shot for the panorama I took them into Photoshop CS5 and ran the Automate/Photo Merge to create my panorama. After they were merged as a panorama I flattened the layers into a single image which I then returned to Aperture 3 for final adjustment and cropping.

Snow Covered Waterfront Park at Sunset in HDR
Snow Covered Waterfront Park at Sunset in HDR

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I followed the same basic procedure for this image except that I used my tripod which gave me a bracket set for each shot of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures. I again used NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to merge each section of the panorama and applied the Balanced preset with the Detail slider set to Accentuated and the Drama slider set to Deep. I then took all eleven merged HDR images into Photoshop CS5 and created the panorama. After that it was back into Aperture 3 for final adjustments to Saturation, Luminance, White Balance, Definition, Contrast, Mid-Contrast and Sharpening before making my final crop.

Snow Covered Waterfront Park at Sunset in HDR
Sunset over a Snow Covered Louisville Waterfront Park and the Ohio River in HDR

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The last image is another tripod mounted series of bracketed images shot with +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures and merged in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 with the same preset settings as the other two images in this post. I followed the same processing steps using Photoshop CS5 and Aperture 3 to create the final image. I moved a little further north on the Big Four Bridge when I shot this set to give it a different perspective too.

Though I was able to salvage the handheld images I shot by discarding the over-exposed frames I still prefer to have a three frame bracket set of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures to work with whenever I’m creating HDR images.



Snowy Day in Waterfront Park

Towhead Island in the Snow

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As a rule Louisville doesn’t get a lot of snow and this winter has been one where we have had maybe 5 or 6 snows. The weather here has changed a great deal from when I was a boy growing up here in the 1950s. Back then we would get really cold winters with snow from November thru April. We could go sledding for days on end and once the snows fell they stayed around for a long time. That has all changed in the past 10 or 15 years and now we seldom have a snow that stays around more than a few days.

Last Wednesday we had snow showers in the morning and by afternoon the temperature was back in the mid 40s. I was in town visiting at my friend Chuck Rubin’s used camera store when I looked outside to see a heavy wet snow falling. I jumped at a chance to photograph Waterfront Park in the snow and immediately headed down to the park. I decided to shoot from the Big Four Bridge, (I’m sure everyone who reads this blog is surprised to hear that LOL), since the snow was really coming down and was covering the ground quickly. Later that afternoon the temperature was back in the upper 40s and the snow was gone as quickly as it arrived

I shot everything in bracket sets of +2, 0 and -2 EV so that I could process them as HDR images. The light was fairly bright so I kept my ISO set at 200 which resulted in fairly fast shutter speeds. The snow was so dense that it rendered itself in gray tones and bright highlights much as clouds do when the sun is in and out. I used NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to merge the frames and created a couple of my own presets starting with the Deep #2 preset as my basis. I was able then to move through the several merged sets in a little less time than trying to adjust each merged set individually. Even with that I still had to make adjustments to my preset depending on the balance of light and dark in the individual HDR images.

After completing my initial processing in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2; I opened each one in Aperture 3 where I completed the adjustments for exposure, contrast, detail, vibrance, and sharpening. I also did a small amount of spot removal where individual snowflakes rendered themselves as sensor spots sometimes do. I did not attempt to remove every snowflake’s shadow from the sky because part of what I wanted to convey was how large and dense they were.

Below you will find more from that day’s photo shoot. I hope you enjoy them and will comment where you think appropriate. I converted some of the images to black and white after merging them in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to create a different version that was more about contrast and form than color.

Snowy Ramp xxxx
Snowy Ramp 
Snow on Deck #3
Snow on Deck #3



Snow on Deck #5x
Snow on Deck #5
Solitary Snow Runnerx
Solitary Snow Runner


Snowy Swing Garden #1xx
Snowy Swing Garden #1


Snow on Deck #4x
Snow on Deck #1


Snow on Deck #2x
Snow on Deck #2

Snow on Deck #2  B&W Version

Snow on Deck #2 B&W Version


Snow on Deck #1 B&W Version
Snow on Deck #1 B&W Version