Archive for the ‘General photography’ Category

SocialICE 2017

A regular event here in Rochester in February is the Downtown Alliance’s SocialICE event. The Peace Plaza is decorated with several ice bars sponsored by several downtown restaurants each with its own theme.

The bars are carved to match the theme, and there are other carvings here and there. And, of course, each is lit by – now days – colored LED lights. The bars offer various themed drinks – happily many are warm drinks.

Tons of folks turn out despite the cold weather because, well, this is Minnesota! Mother nature hasn’t exactly cooperated the last two years, though. Last year, by the time I made it to see the sculptures, serious melting was happening. The event runs Thursday through Saturday, and Thursday night, when I was there, temps were in the mid-30s. I could see melting, but it certainly wasn’t bad. But Friday and Saturday highs reached the 50s. I’m not sure how the ice fared, but the news reported they were trying to use dry ice and foam to help – I assume during the daytime.

While I take photos of the ice, I find myself drawn to the people, and I seem to take more photos of the bar staff and the attendees.

The fellow above was the event DJ well above the crowd behind a huge wall of ice.

There were at least a few media folks there. I’m not sure who this reporter and camera person represented, but the local KTTC-TV had a reporter on location for the six o’clock news.

There was a Prince-themed bar, complete with Prince’s symbol carved in the base, but many were posing with the life-size cardboard Prince cut-outs.

I had a few people see me with my camera (used the big-boy Canon this night) and give me big pose.

This was the only ice casualty I noticed. Looks like it was standing up and just lost its base support to the warmth. I have no idea what it was supposed to be.

Several places along the plaza, these warmers were running. It’s amazing how cold the mid-thirties can be when you’re just standing around. And, of course, we don’t dress for really cold weather when it’s that warm! On 1st Ave which was closed at the Peace Plaza, there were a handful of portable fireplaces with wood fires. Those were really nice.

I saw the KTTC photographer hauling her big video camera and equally hefty tripod here and there. Then around 6PM, Alanna Martella, one of their reports appeared for, what I’m assuming, was a live report during the news.

I happened to be downtown anyway Thursday evening, so I took the opportunity to throw the camera  in the car and walk over to the plaza. Glad I did since the carvings looked pretty good and there was a nice crowd filling in the space. It’s great that these events have such a good turnout. I think it keeps our town active.

It also gives me something different to shoot. I like looking around and thinking about what I can capture that’s different, at least different from what I’ve shot before. Perhaps that’s the draw of the people. The human face – expression – can be counted on for bringing me something new.

Meanwhile, I won’t begrudge the 50 degree temperatures in February in Minnesota. Oh, no.

Tony’s Italian Adventure

Roseto V.F.

In August, I left for a two-week solo trip to Italy. Traveling light, I decided to take my travel camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with a 14-150mm super zoom lens. That’s equivalent to 28-300mm for a full frame camera and shows the value of the micro-four-thirds system for traveling as everything including lenses is much smaller and lighter. But, yes, there were a few times I wished I had the bigger camera.

My Italian travels began with a drive from Roma Fiumicino airport south to the small village of Roseto Valfortore in Puglia, the home town of my grandparents (miei  nonni).

Roseto V.F.

They left this village in the late 1890s, I believe. I likely have relatives still there, but I really had no idea what to expect or what I would do once there. But, I wanted to see it and walk the streets, and just take it in.

Roseto V.F.

Indeed, the older part of town has what are basically alleys some of which are large enough for one of the small cars common in Italy, but many are not. It’s built atop a hill with the surrounding hills covered in windmills. The roads into town are narrow with very rough patches here and there – narrowing to one small lane in places. And if you follow GPS instructions, you can end up on farming roads that I came to describe as paths.

Roseto V.F.

Still, the town is pretty, especially the older section, and it exudes quaint European ambiance. The older men sit in the cafe or at a table outside the cafe playing cards. Or sit in chairs outside the Tobacchi (tobacco shop) as you might see in movies.

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The small churches are old and works of art. Everyone knows everyone which was critical for me to find my hotel as it was on one of those alleys and street signs were not great. (No cell service prevented me from trying to call.) And prices were low, €0.80 for espresso, a nice meal could be had for less than €10. Just don’t try to eat in a restaurant after 18:00. “Tardi!” Gelato or a pastry at the cafe can be supper, right?

Leaving Roseto, I drove back to Roma Fiumicino then took a train to the Roma Termini train station and a fast train up to Firenze (Florence). I was going to visit the seaside region of Cinque Terre and wanted to break up the travel. So, two nights in Firenze would do that and give me a day in a city I love. A friend who spent time in Italy earlier this year suggested the winery tour she did and gave me a pointer to their web page: Fun in Tuscany.

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Their site showed several options including a Vespa tour. That sounded terrific, so I signed up before I left home. It turns out I was the only one participating in the Vespa riding, so it was just me and my guide, Antonio (perfect name for me to remember!). Since I ride motorcycles, we took the more challenging but more scenic roads through the wine and olive country. We stopped in San Gimignano for gelato – which was wonderful – and sat on steps in the shade. While I ate, we talked about southern Italy, Italian culture, Italian families, and food, and who knows what else. It was great!

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Eventually, we ended up at Tenuta Torciano winery for a wine tasting and multicourse lunch. I was done riding, so the wine was not a problem. I met up with others who were in the same van I was in leaving Firenze along with another van-full of folks. They were on the regular wine-tasting tour. We caught up with them earlier where they were tasting some wine at another winery – what Antonio described as a “warm-up” tasting. I drank water!

This tasting was more involved and the food was wonderful. After we returned to Firenze, I had drinks with the group at a couple places. They were from all over – New Zealand, Canada, Australia. One couple lives in Chicago but met at UND.

Cinque Terre

The next day I left Firenze. My train was to take me to La Spezia, where I’d take another train to Vernazza, one of the five Cinque Terre towns. After a sizable delay, a woman came through the train telling us “broken!” and sending us to the next platform for a train to Pisa. That train was jam-packed. I stood by the doors for the hour ride to Pisa where I met a couple from London on an extended trip through Europe. In Pisa, I found a train to La Spezia. Didn’t see the famous tower as it’s quite a hike from the train station. In La Spezia, I arrived at nearly the time for my scheduled train to Vernazza to leave. It was still there and I managed to get to the platform before it left, but just barely, and the doors wouldn’t open. But the next train was only a 15 minute wait.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is a set of five small towns built into the steep hills overlooking the sea. Above them are stone terraces with grape vines and occasionally olives or lemon trees. These terraces are hundreds of years old and had to be amazingly difficult to build. They remain a lot of work to farm.

Cinque Terre

The towns themselves are beautiful. The buildings are colorful. And old. Churches are ornate, old, and photogenic, although the age is apparent when you’re in close. Getting around is pretty easy. There are trains passing between the towns and spending most of their time traveling through tunnels. In Vernazza, the open part of the station is only about two train cars wide. You generally walk along the platform into and out of the tunnel to board or exit the train.

Cinque Terre

There are also trails between the towns, and you see many hikers especially early in the mornings. Some of the trails are closed due to mudslides several years ago. Getting around generally involves a lot of climbing in nearly all the towns. The views are worth the climbs. Some spots are near the trails, and you can look at the hills bordering the towns and usually see hikers on the trails if you look in the right place.

Cinque Terre

Each of the five towns has its own personality. All have places to swim, but one has a larger, more traditional beach, Monterosso al Mare. It’s the northern-most of the five and the feel there, to me, was different and more overtly touristy. All have tons of tourists especially in midday. I would head out in the mornings when it was quieter and crowds were minimal.

Cinque Terre

One town, Corneglia, is built up on the hill rather than down at the water. The train station, though, is at the same altitude above the sea as in the other towns, so there’s either a rather lengthy climb up or a shuttle. One can take the shuttle up and walk the stairs down, too, which is what I did.

Cinque Terre

My room in Vernazza was more like an apartment with a kitchen area and dining table. It made a great home base. The large windows faced the main street, a couple stories up giving me a great view. Getting to the room required climbing several sets of stairs, but in alleys, not withing a building. The entry door looks like you’re walking into the ground floor, but once inside, the window view shows you otherwise.

Cinque Terre

One evening, I paid one of the boat operators to take me out at sunset. He took me down the coast so I could take sunset photos of four of the towns. They face mostly to the west, so the late sun illuminated the towns with nice light. There were some clouds over the towns most of the day, but as the sun dropped, the clouds dissipated. I sort of wish they remained to add to the drama of the view, but you get what you get. This is one place my better camera would have been nice. I’m glad I didn’t have the weight to carry around, but…

Cinque Terre

I visited all five towns at some point, but then I stuck around Vernazza. I found a great restaurant for breakfasts and dinners away from the crowd and serving better food than the places down by the water. Had a couple of my favorite desserts there (dolci).

Cinque Terre

Tuesday is apparently market day, and the street is filled with tents and trucks of fruit, vegetables, fish, and clothing. There was a bit of drizzle that day but not for long.

Cinque Terre

One afternoon, resting and cooling off in my room, I hear what sounded like latin American music coming from the street below. It was a quartet from Chile. They were also visiting Cinque Terre for the first time. They were doing something of a European tour.

These towns, besides the tourist crowds, resembled the quaintness of Roseto. Just feels like a slower pace, many locals going about their daily work.

Milano

From Vernazza, I took trains to Milano – a large city to the north and one some consider  the fashion capital of the world – perhaps along with Paris. It’s an interesting city with some beautiful art, the great Gothic cathedral, Duomo, and home of many great Renaissance artists.

Milano Centrale

I was there two years ago, attending the Italian Grand Prix in nearby Monza, and I was there this time again for the Grand Prix. Da Vinci’s Last Supper is in Milan, and I was unable to visit it my first time there. For this trip, I set aside an extra day and made sure I secured a ticket way ahead of time. One small group at a time is let in to see the work for 15 minutes. You go through staging areas to help reduce the humidity that gets into the room containing the fresco painting. Worth the wait, even though it has deteriorated a lot. It is still awesome to see such a work by such an artist. And just sit and look at it, study it.

Italian Grand Prix

The final part of the trip was to again attend Gran Premio d’Italia in Monza. This is the annual Formula 1 race. I discussed it previously in my trip discussion from two years ago. The one thing I did this time which I hadn’t before is attend the pit walk for three-day ticket holders on Thursday before the race. Last time, I flew in on Thursday, so I didn’t want to add that to the travel day and dealing with jetlag.

Italian Grand Prix

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you can take a train to the Monza station and then shuttle buses from there to the park (the track is built within a large city park). On Thursday, there’s no shuttle, so you take city buses. I wondered if I’d be able to figure out where to catch the bus and if I’d get the right one. Silly me – there are hundreds of others doing the same thing. Just follow the crowd!

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I took plenty of photos of cars last time. I still took some car photos, mainly to see what the little camera could do (conclusion: no match for the 5DIII), but I focused more on people – workers painting stripes…

Italian Grand Prix

Photographers being loaded into an SUV after the track action was done…

Italian Grand Prix

One of the food vendor guys making a real cappuccino, because this is Italy and you’re going to have good coffee, alright?

Italian Grand Prix

Or the fellow cooking up sausage or hot dogs fresh on a grill, because this is Italy and you’re going to have good food, alright?

I actually kept going back to the food sites and watching and looking at the variety. I have a photo of one with a sign, “Panini Caldi,” in big letters – “hot sandwiches.” There was pizza, too, but even the hot dogs were sliced lengthwise, heated on a grill, and served on good bread. Prices oddly seemed to vary. Birra (beer – almost all Heineken – a sponsor) ranged from €5 to €8 and acqua (water) ranged from one euro to €2.50. Most had it for one euro. Which was good, because it was really hot and humid.

Italian Grand Prix

Friday is a practice day, Saturday is qualifying, then the race is Sunday afternoon. Sprinkled through the Formula 1 activity are other lower class races. There was a Porsche series race with lots of action and a couple pretty bad crashes from which, fortunately, the drivers walked away.

The F1 race is the main event and a spectacle. So, we had the jet flyby (I think the US is the only place that colored smoke isn’t used). There’s a driver parade with all the drivers on a big flat-bed driven around the full length of the track to wave to fans while an on-board reporter and film crew interview them as they slowly drive around.

Italian Grand Prix

Then they line up on the grid, eventually make one parade lap lining up again on the grid, then make a standing start. Which is pretty cool. I had a decent view of the start. After that, I could see the cars leaving the pits right in front of me, and the cars going by on the front straight are passing at something over 200mph. Something of a blur!

After the race, I hurried to the train station, returned to Milano, picked up my bag where I checked it for the day, and bought my ticket back to Roma Termini. That left me some time to grab a bite in the station – and the Milano Centrale station is massive with plenty of shopping and food choices. I then popped into a favorite cafe I found two years ago with the best canolini. Just fabulous. One final canolino before leaving for Rome.

In Roma, I stayed at a more typical (European style) hotel – the first of the trip and by far the most expensive. But I was less than a block from Roma Termini. In the morning, I had breakfast and a cappuccino out of a little multidrink machine – not as good as those at the race track. Then I packed up and headed to Fiumicino to do the whole security-customs thing and fly home.

It was an incredible experience, one I have trouble not talking about at length. That will probably subside as my memories fade a bit. Food was great as I expected. The people were mostly very friendly (less so in Milano which just has that big city feel). Driving was, well, interesting. The tiny(-ish) camera was good for the most part, and I was certainly glad for it’s size and weight. Knowing just a little Italian seems to help you connect to people. Even replying “prego” after a server says “grazie” will get a different reaction than just answering “grazie” back. In the small towns in the evening, a stern look will change to a smile with “buona sera” and a returned “buona sera.”

I kept something of a journal on my iPhone during the trip and used that with my favorite photos to create a photo book. It will help me remember some of the fun details. If you happen to stop by some time and want to see it, just let me know. But it might make me talk endlessly!

Will I return to Italy? If I can swing it, absolutely!

SMNPPA and the Gladiolas

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I belong to a local professional photographers group, Southern Minnesota Professional Photographers Association, or SMNPPA for short. We’re affiliated with the larger Minnesota PPA and the Professional Photographers of America. It exists for promoting networking with other professional photographers as well as providing education opportunities for its members.

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We meet once a month, usually having a speaker providing instruction in some aspect of photography or business or marketing or some combination of the above. Some of our speakers are local, but we also often bring in folks from quite distant parts of the country. It’s a great organization and quite a deal for what you get – in case any of my readers is also shooting professionally.

One of our members and director of programs, Heather, has parents who plant over four acres of gladiolas on their farm near Potsdam, MN. She had the great idea to take the opportunity to have one of our meetings at the farm when the flowers were in bloom.

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For this meeting, we had a couple short talks covering macro (close-up) photography and environmental portraiture. Then, we were out to the field to shoot.

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Most of our meetings don’t include shooting, although we usually have one all-day meeting with some shooting in the summer. This meeting was different having the short instruction time and the rest of the evening photographing around the glads. The weather was great and as the sun moved lower in the sky, the light became very nice.

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I brought extension tubes to shoot a few close-ups of the flowers, experimenting a bit with a couple techniques. There was a bit of a breeze early, but it calmed down nicely for us making the macro shooting a little easier.

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Heather lined up three models for us, so I took Barret over by some of the red flowers and took a few photos as the sun was setting.

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As I was looking around, I happened to see the sky come to life away from the sun. My favorite sky color – I call it a magenta sky – highlighted some high thin clouds. (See my post about my Grand Canyon visit to see one of my favorite photos of the canyon with this same magenta-colored sky.)

I knew this would last just minutes. It was “oh! oh! where can we shoot??? Now!!” I found a stand of flowers to pose Barret by, sat on the ground and fired away. It was then that I noticed the gladiolas she was standing next to had colors so similar to those above her. What more could I ask for?

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And sure enough, the clouds soon went dark. Heather and a few others shot a some final photos of the models with the waning light in the west behind them to finish up the evening. The three young women were good sports – the temperature was dropping and the mosquitoes were biting.

We wrapped up and headed to a local tavern for dinner and drinks. Heather’s folks donate many flowers to St. Mary’s hospital (part of the Mayo system) and other organizations. They’ve been in the news several times – recently here – and now I’ve been able to see and wander through the awesome acres of glads. I also had a chance to talk to her father, John, about what goes into it. It was fascinating and great to feel his passion for it.

Those of us drawn to photography understand how that sort of passion works. And why we can spend hours talking about it.

Photoshop World 2015

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I just returned from Photoshop World 2015 in Las Vegas. It was my fourth time attending the conference and Expo – three of them in Vegas. The day before the main conference begins, they have what I think they now call In-depth Workshops. Those of us who’ve been around a while still call them pre-cons. As in before the conference. I decided to spend a bit of time around Joe McNally again and take his pre-con.

I keep hoping some of Joe’s vast understanding of light and story-telling will rub off on me! We went to what is basically a large open space filled with various gym equipment used by some of the Vegas performers to train. As models, Joe brought some friends (who doesn’t he know?) from the local scene.

Charlotte is a show girl and was dressed as such. The lighting setups were set ahead of time, each station using a different kind of lighting arrangement. Charlotte is very natural and at home even with a line of photographers waiting to take a few pictures.

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I decided to go for something whacky, and asked her to give me a surprised look. She was awesome. This is probably my favorite photo of the day.

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Manu is a lead in Cirque du Soleil’s Ka. A very fit young man. And, he’s from Paris. The lighting station here was a black backdrop and rim lighting. Perfect for highlighting his physique. There was something missing, though.

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I asked Manu if he’d mind removing his shirt. He obliged. When I checked a long while later, no one had apparently asked him to replace the shirt. Go figure!

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Sasha is a former Olympic swimmer. I believe Joe said she performs in O. Beautiful lines and flexibility. Look at her fingers – no posing, she just naturally does that.

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I had a little fun with her, too. I’m not sure she knew what to make of me. I figured they are standing there for 40 or 50 photographers – they were given some much-needed breaks – shooting frame after frame, so I wanted to add a bit of levity. Hey, I do what I can!

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Drew is a former NFL player. I didn’t talk to Drew as much as I’d have liked – he was a very popular subject. Very popular. He had some cool props. While I was in line, he had a shirt on, and I was thinking it would be cool if he could tear it off for a photo. Someone beat me to that request, and from what I could hear, it turns out he had a handful of tear-away shirts. Too obvious, I guess.

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He had just been oiled up, so I thought it would be good to try the cowboy hat and give me a just back from the field kind of look with a jacket over the shoulder. I’d like to have worked this a bit more, but I wanted others to have their opportunities to shoot.

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Our final model, Alyssa, is a freelance acrobat. She said she can’t dance, but you’d think she must. She grew up in a circus performing family. I suspect this is just in her blood. She did some ring work, then a lot with this hanging fabric – climbing, sitting, hanging, and used it as a backdrop at ground level. When she was up in the air, I kept looking over at her amazed at her stamina. Hanging and moving without stopping. How can she do that? This station used continuous lights (no flash) which have some nice benefits. But what they don’t do well is overpower the ambient light, so lots of my shots of Alyssa have distracting backgrounds. But one benefit was everyone around her could all shoot at once – no flash triggers were needed.

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While I was looking over at Manu later in the afternoon, I saw this incredible window light behind him. The sun had moved, pushing a lot more light through those windows. I kind of slipped in to grab some shots between the flashes of the photographer with the radio trigger. Made sure I stayed out of that photographer’s way, but I had to grab a few shots. Ambient light can be really great. But, it’s good to recognize that Manu was still in front of a black backdrop that helped guide that window light where it would produce this sort of pattern.

This was all on Monday. Photoshop World began in earnest on Tuesday starting with the always amazing keynote event. There’s always a theme and a video, and this year it was a spoof of Wayne’s World. They posted the whole keynote here – the first seven minutes or so is the video. This sets the tone for the conference, and you realize it’s going to be educational, but it’s going to be fun along the way, too!

Apart from the conference and Joe’s pre-con, I had some time to walk a ton, ride in the High Roller (basically a very large Ferris wheel), do some indoor freefall at the Vegas Indoor Skydiving center, and attend Zarkana, one of Cirque du Soleil’s amazing shows. I have a lot of iPhone photos! Ask to see them sometime!

Lightroom CC / 6 and the HDR Feature

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I have been using Adobe’s Lightroom program for managing my photo library and processing my RAW files since the original beta version in 2006. It’s sort of the center of the universe for my post-processing work on my images. Over the years, I’ve seen it be vastly improved, especially the editing features.

Adobe just released their newest version – or versions. There are two now, Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC, both of which are nearly the same for now. There were not a ton of new features in this release. One of the new features is HDR – short for High Dynamic Range. This is a method for handling situations with a larger range of light intensity than our cameras can handle. It’s a form of what’s sometimes called computational photography – using software algorithms to operate on the image data.

HDR gained popularity a few years ago. It became something of a fad as many new things do – suddenly everyone doing it – in part because it can produce rather extraordinary images. And, extraordinary doesn’t actually mean good. Grungy detail and eye-splitting saturated colors became sort of the rage producing what some call the “HDR look.”

However, it does solve something of a problem we sometimes face. It’s often used by architectural photographers and others. The approach is basically to take a set of photos, each at a different exposure, then let the software combine those into one image. Photographers have been doing this manually using masking in Photoshop for years. HDR software can simplify the process and apply it more globally.

Now, we can do this right in Lightroom. One big difference between Lightroom’s feature and dedicated HDR software (or even the rather rudimentary capability in Photoshop) is the lack of options. The idea, it seems, is you produce the merged photo then adjust it in Lightroom’s develop module like any other photo.

I’ve been playing with it, comparing it to Photomatix – my go-to HDR program – and seeing what it can and can’t do. How might I use it?

The photo above is one of a series of seven exposures I took inside a beautiful theatre in Red Wing. It’s a decent exposure, and you can see the wide range of brightness from the stage lights to the dimly lit seats. I shot these hand-held, so the lightest exposure of the seven was at a slow shutter speed and has quite a lot of motion blur. So, I’m going to exclude it. The next-brightest image has a lot of good detail in the shadows, so I think it’s just fine using the six remaining photos.

(Be sure to click on the images to see them larger. Sometimes the in-line smaller size will look a little blurry or otherwise not great!)

Lightroom's HDR result

This is the result from Lightroom’s merge HDR. It produces a DNG file similar to a RAW file. Adobe says it’s 16-bit, and the develop module exposure setting can adjust from -10 EV (or stops) to +10 EV. Out of the box, it seems quite dark. As I experiment with the settings, I find that the shadows slider – one I generally find less than useful except in certain circumstances – works amazingly well here. And I had to just try it to figure that out. The highlights slider – which I use a lot – has less impact than I’m used to. Anyway, after adjusting it a while, I ended up with the next image.

Lightroom HDR with Adjustments

Comparing this to the original single file, it’s actually quite similar. The overall tone is nearly the same, but you can see we’ve opened up the shadow areas quite a bit. I’m sure I could vary the look quite a bit using the sliders more.

Now, to make it interesting, I take this adjusted image and see what Photomatix will do with it. Although Photomatix is designed for merging and blending several photos, it can apply its methods to a single image as well. I started with the settings I’ve used for indoor (church and theatre) images before, then adjusted them to taste.

Photomatix Processed LR HDR

You can see that Photomatix approaches the detail and shadows differently and produces a different look. Shadows in particular are opened up quite a bit more. The shadow contrast is different, too. I then took this result into OnOne’s Perfect Effects to apply slightly more mid-tone contrast and a tiny bit of glow. Then, I did some finishing touches in the Lightroom develop module, partly to reduce the saturation a bit and pull more focus onto the stage. (Uniform brightness and detail can be the killer of HDR photos as they lose a place for the eye to go.)

LR HDR + Photomatix + Perfect Effects + LR

Some of these changes are subtle, especially at this size. But subtle changes can make or break a photograph.

Using Just Photomatix on the Six Images

For comparison, the image above is made using the same six photos directly merged by Photomatix. I did some minor tweaks in Lightroom to produce this final image. One final version now…

Single Photo Adjusted in Lightroom

This one is made using just the single exposure we started with up top. I adjusted it in Lightroom, mainly adding contrast and bring out the shadows. It’s not a bad rendering, but I like having a bit more detail available in such situations. Look at the paneling below the stage to see some of the difference.

Conclusions? Well, the Lightroom HDR feature is workable. Adjusting its results in the develop module works okay, especially regarding the ability of the shadow slider to bring out shadow detail. I think I’d like having the option to produce a larger 32-bit file. Speed wasn’t bad. Not great either. Since there’s really very few options, it can be run “headless” where it doesn’t even ask about the settings and completes in the background, letting you continue to fiddle with other things in Lightroom.

Note that I did not turn on the “Auto tone” setting. This seems to be exactly the same as hitting the Auto button in the Basic settings. I don’t like it there, and I didn’t like it for HDR either.

Using Photomatix as a filter or one or more other filters – or other similar approaches using Photoshop – can produce an interesting and quite usable final image.

This test used an image with nothing moving. When things move, they can be in different positions from one image to the next. Then, the software has to figure out what to do. It creates what are called ghosts, spooky looking double or triple or more exposure sorts of areas where the moving thing appears more than once. Thus, the method to reduce these is called de-ghosting or ghost removal. There is a setting for this in Lightroom’s HDR – it’s the only one with more than just on/off.

Typically, you might see this show up as leaves blowing gently in the breeze. I sometimes take HDR series of scenes including people. People are bigger than leaves and can move quite a bit, especially for interior shots where light is dim and exposures are long. Photomatix does a fair job handling ghosts in general and people in particular. People are still a problem, but it gives me a reasonable starting point from which I can use Photoshop to fix things up. Lightroom? I’m not sure what it is doing. In one test, it didn’t even notice all the moving people. It found ceiling fans and decided to stop them (using the shortest exposure). And the people were a mess. It gave me noisy poorly rendered areas about three times the area of the slightly moving person with bad color. I would have a lot of work to do to recover. None of the provided options would improve things. So, for now, if there’s movement and especially humans in the shot, Lightroom’s HDR is a non-starter for me.

So, there you have it – one little study of this new HDR feature built into Lightroom (as well as its sister program, Adobe Camera Raw). I’d say there are possibilities there. I may play with it more in the future. We’ll see where Adobe takes this.

Classic Brass Benefit Concert

Spasmodic Dysphonia Benefit

On Sunday, I attended and photographed Classic Brass playing a benefit concert for Spasmodic Dysphonia at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. SD is a voice disorder, and there’s more info here.

Spasmodic Dysphonia Benefit

Classic Brass is a local brass quintet. They play regularly in the area. Warren Bandel, one of the two trumpet players in the group, is a regular member of the pit orchestra for Rochester Civic Theatre’s musicals. He’s been playing during the musicals for many years (since he was in high school, I believe!). He’s usually responsible for those wailing high notes.

Spasmodic Dysphonia Benefit

They played a range of music including a couple numbers accompanied by the church pipe organ played by Harold Vetter just filling the building with amazing sound.

Spasmodic Dysphonia Benefit

I’ve been a fan of horns since I was a kid. I still have a stack of Herb Alpert’s LPs somewhere. During my high school band years, I (along with many of our band members) developed a taste for what was then called Jazz-Rock. Bands in that era were Blood, Sweat and Tears (leaning more toward the jazz side) and Chicago (leaning more to the rock side). A short-lived group was headed by uber-trumpeter Bill Chase, named Chase for him. They had a concert at a local high school following a day of trumpet workshops which I think a couple of our band trumpeters attended. If you haven’t heard Bill Chase play – and you like amazing trumpet work – it’s worth looking him up. He and his group sadly died in a plane crash not long after I saw them.

Spasmodic Dysphonia Benefit

I thoroughly enjoyed the concert Sunday. Most of the photos I took were before intermission. After intermission, I sat down and mostly just listened!

Spasmodic Dysphonia Benefit

We have some truly amazing talent here in our relatively small neck of the woods.

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