Tag: twilight sky

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.






Out For an Evening Spin

Kids Out For an Evening Spin

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Sunday evening I was down in Waterfront Park to shoot the sunset and the people out enjoying the park. As I was heading back to my truck I saw the children’s playground was getting a little attention too. It was well after sunset and the light was very low so I thought I would experiment with some long exposure brackets of the kids playing on the merry-go-round. They were all ages from toddler up to five or so and they were having a great time. I knew that the figures would be blurred by movement so I decided to capitalize on that.

One mother, whose two children were the smallest on the ride, stood nearly motionless as she watched over them. I hoped that she would show up in the shots and was well rewarded. Even though there were eight or ten kids on the ride and several more parents in the scene they all stayed in motion and appear as faint ghosts in the final image.

I merged the three frames in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 using a 100% setting for anti-ghosting. I also applied the Deep #1 preset and made some very slight adjustments to the tonality before returning the image to Aperture 3 for final adjustments. In Aperture 3 I adjusted each color channel separately in order to compliment the blue tone that the twilight sky cast over the scene. I was still bothered by the way the kids were being rendered as simply a blur though; I decided to add some mid-contrast and voila their small figures appeared inside the merry-go-round. A little sharpening and some further tweaks to the Exposure and Enhance sliders and this final image emerged.