Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fading Austin


Austin Sunset 02, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Another shot of Austin, TX as the sun slowly faded out.

It's cool how many different shots you can get from the same vantage point as the sun sets. Colors change, lights come on and the whole picture becomes a whole new animal. This picture taking stuff gets pretty fun at those times! My Austin Over River post and my Austin At Dusk post prove that point. This one here was taken just a few minutes before those others and they are all so different. Of course, changing aspects make them different as well, but you can really see the color changes.

Like I said, fun stuff!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Austin Over River


Austin Over River, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
This is a wide angle shot of the Austin, Texas skyline from Louis Neff Point overlooking the convergence of Barton Springs and the Colorado River.

It's another in my Louis Neff Point series that you can check out on my flickr photostream. It was a fun night. I went with my friend and co-worker, Van Sutherland after work and took some shots of Austin as the sun went down. We both got some great shots. Hopefully we'll do it again soon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pedestrian Bridge Ramp and Topaz Labs


Pedestrian Bridge Ramp, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
This is the ramp leading up to or down from (depending on which way you are going) the Pedestrian Bridge by Lamar Blvd in Austin, TX. It's part of the famous "Hike and Bike Trail" that winds its way around Lady Bird Lake.

It's funny how I got this shot. I was able to shoot this from the end of the Pedestrian Bridge that overlooks the ramp and of course there's a railing on that part of the bridge just like you see on the ramp. However, to get the shot, my tripod wasn't tall enough to get the camera over the railing without getting some of the railing in the shot. So, I had to kind of lean the tripod over on two legs and lean it up against the railing so it was peering thru the slats that are further apart, again just like in the picture. It wasn't the most stable, but it worked and wa-la!

On another note, I received an email from Topaz Labs stating that they have a new version of Remask out. I'd like to try it sometime as masking is something I'm not great at and I think that program would help a great deal. I'm also interested in their Photoshop Bundle. Remask is included in it plus a whole bunch of other plugins for Photoshop that might give Nik software a run for their money. Especially since it's cheaper! We'll see.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Austin at Dusk


Austin at Dusk, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of going on a mini photowalk with my co-worker and fellow HDR enthusiast Van Sutherland and we took a trip out to Louis Neff Point in Zilker Park. It's on the Colorado River in Austin, TX. We got some great dusk shots of downtown Austin. We also went over to the Pedestrian Bridge on the "Hike and Bike Trail" - which winds it's way around Lady Bird Lake (aka the Colorado River).

This shot was taken just as the sun was almost down, but left a little bit of light to catch some of the foliage on the side of the water, yet I could still get the lights of the buildings. It's almost a surreal shot and I'm not sure if it's too much, not enough, or just right, but it's growing on me. It almost looks like a painting or something. I mostly use Nik Color Efex's Pro Contrast and Tonal Contrast settings on this one to get this look. Since it is an HDR, I also used Photomatix.  I used Photoshop CS4 for other post-processing.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

B-17 Tail Guns


B-17 Tail Guns, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
This is the "Experimental Aircraft Association's" B-17 called "Aluminum Overcast" as seen from the aft. Taken at the Georgetown, TX Municipal Airport.

For this shot I processed it with 3 bracketed shots with -2, 0, +2 EV in Photomatix. I then opened it up in Photoshop CS4 and used the Nik Color Efex 3.0 plugin on it. I used tonal contrast at about 60% opacity, pro contrast around 10% opacity, and bleach bypass at about 67%. All of these opacity levels are approximate.

After that I sharpened it with Nik Sharpener and cleaned it up with Imagenomic's Noiseware.

This really gives the shot that painterly look, but sometimes I think it may look a little too over processed. I like the look that it achieves, but sometimes think some of the detail gets lost. Overall I'm happy with the results though.

Sometime I will process a shot and put down the exact steps of how I get there since this is sort of from memory. Anyway, this gives you somewhat of an idea how I get the shots I get.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Granite Dells in Prescott, AZ


Granite Dells in Prescott, AZ, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
A few months ago, my wife and I decided to take a trip to Prescott, AZ. We had never been before but heard it was a nice place. We based that on trips to Flagstaff many years ago and friends told us Prescott was quite similar. We loved the time we spent in Flagstaff and we enjoyed Prescott just as much. It's a great all-American town. There is some beautiful scenery to take in while you are there. Just outside of Prescott is an area called the "Granite Dells". It's a photographers oasis!

Unfortunately I didn't have too much time to get the perfect shot, but I had time to get a few decent ones. This is one of them. It's an HDR shot from one raw converted into three tiffs at -2, 0 and +2 exp. comp, merged in Photomatix and a little post processing in Photoshop.

One more thing... While we were there we found a nice art gallery called the "Ian Russell Gallery" right off the town square and it happened to be the place where Rich Charpentier works! He is an amazing photographer and has an excellent portfolio of HDR work. He has a blog called "The Airstream Chronicles" and it has a great deal of information on photography. His gallery in Prescott is quite impressive also. I recommend it if you are ever in the area.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

RCAF Aircraft


RCAF 03, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
WWII era Royal Canadian Air Force plane from the Commemorative Air Force.

B-17 Bomber


B-17 Bomber, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Here's another shot I took of EAA's B-17 bomber called "Aluminum Overcast" as it was getting ready to taxi to the runway. I found this while I was out looking for something to take a picture of today and this flew overhead. I went to the Georgetown, TX airport and what do you know, there it was. What a lucky day!

You can see more of this beautiful aircraft at www.b17.org.

B17 Propeller


B17 Propeller, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
Today in Georgetown, TX, the EAA was flying their B-17 called "Aluminum Overcast" out of the local airport. I just happened to see it as I was out trying to get some landscapes, but this looked way more interesting. This is a shot of the propeller on engine #1 I believe.  If you go to EAA's B17 website, you can see more info about this beautiful aircraft.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hamilton Pool


Hamilton Pool 01, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.

Hamilton Pool is a swimming hole west of Austin, TX by about 30 miles or so. From what I gather, it was an underground lake or river in which the roof of the cave that it was in fell in and left it looking like so. Pretty cool place I must say.

This shot made it as an Editor's Pick on the HDRSpotting website. It's also pretty popular there as it's hovering around #9 or #10 overall. HDRSpotting is currently having a contest in November for the most popular HDR. If you win, you get $100. Check it out if you have time. There are some great HDRs there and you can see this Hamilton Pool shot on HDRSpotting here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gas Pump and Bleached Rust


Gas Pump, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
In Granger, TX there's an old building that once was the Alamo Hotel. Next to it sat this old gas pump as well as an old tractor and other things. The hotel is abandoned now from what I can tell, but I thought this would be a cool picture, especially since it seemed kind of out of place. I tried to give it that gritty sort of look.

One thing that helped me get that gritty look is thru a Photoshop plugin called Nik Color Efex 3.0. You can get some really cool effects from it. You can add graduated filters to your shots, change colors of foliage, add fog, vignettes and all sorts of other things. One of my favorite settings in it is called "Bleach Bypass". It kind of washes out the shot, in effect "bleaching" it. It kind of fades the lighter colors but leaves the darker colors alone a little bit. I like to use this setting on old grungy things, especially if there's rust anywhere in the shot. It seems to really bring it out. I used it in this shot and it really accentuated the rust in the gas pump. It brings out that texture and makes it look maybe even rustier than it really was. Just click on the Bleach Bypass setting and it will create another layer in Photoshop and then I'll just adjust the opacity until I get the look I want. Pretty easy. I'm all about easy.

I use Nik Color Efex 3.0 on almost all of my shots in one capacity or another. It's getting to be almost a necessity. There are a few different versions of this plugin, but of course all of the best settings are in the most expensive version which is Pro. Anyway, I have a couple other favorite settings in Nik and I'll publish some examples of those in a subsequent post.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HDR from Single Raw (Caboose)


Verde Canyon Train Caboose, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
There will be times when you want to take an HDR but can't for whatever reason. Maybe you don't have your tripod, maybe you don't have enough space on your camera's card or maybe something else. In my case, I was traveling and I didn't want to take many exposures of one subject and fill up my SD card on my D90 too fast. So, one thing that you can do is to take a single raw shot and process it into three tiffs and then process it as an HDR in Photomatix. I learned this trick in Pete Carr's book called HDR Photography Photo Workshop. Basically what I did was open the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), save it as a tiff, open it again in ACR, adjust the exposure to -2, save as another tiff and do it once more with an exposure of +2. After that, I tonemapped the three tiffs I just created as an HDR in Photomatix and tweaked in Photoshop.

It's pretty easy to do, but one thing I want to make clear is that when you know you want to make an HDR photo and have the circumstances that allow you to, take at least three bracketed shots, preferably 5. You can make an HDR from one, but it introduces more noise and just does not work as well. However, I think you can get better looking photos by making an HDR from a single shot than you can by just taking one non-hdr shot and not doing anything else with it, if you are an amateur like me. ;-)

This particular shot is the caboose of the Verde Canyon Railroad train located in Clarkdale, Arizona. It takes you on a nice scenic ride though the desert canyons and mountains in Northern Arizona where you can see amazing landscapes and wildlife. It was a winning entry in a contest they had on flickr and one of my first tries at an HDR from a single raw. Oh and BTW, my Lanterns shot was also a winner.

Please visit my Flickr stream when you have a chance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Downtown Austin Night HDR and Tips


Downtown Austin, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.
This was shot early in the morning before sun-up. I was asked how I got this particular shot because night HDRs can be full of noise.

It was a normal 5 bracketed shot with -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 exposure values. Usually, when I take my shots, I use an ISO of 100 or so. At least the lowest ISO as possible. I also like to set an aperture of somewhere around f/8 to f/11 to get everything in focus. In this case since it was a night shot, that ISO was too low for the aperture of f/8. The problem I have with my Nikon D90 is that the longest the shutter will stay open is 30 seconds unless I go full manual or bulb mode. The shutter stays open longest at +2 EV and at ISO 100, it stayed open longer than 30 seconds. That didn't make for good varying exposures at those different EVs. Most all of them exposed the same because the shutter stayed open for only 30 seconds during most of the brackets. So, I had to figure out what ISO speed would work. So what I had to do was adjust the ISO and take a few single test shots at +2 EV to find out which ISO kept the shutter close to but below 30 seconds. It turned out that ISO 640 worked. Then I could set my normal brackets and take my shots since the the rest of the EVs are less than +2, they would all be less than 30 seconds. That seemed to do the trick.  The results are pretty good as you can see, but the full res shot still has a few artifacts that could stand a little more work. Overall though, I'm pleased.

I suppose I could've gone full manual and tried to experiment with different exposure times in bulb mode to get the right exposure, but I was pressed for time. So the ISO explanation above worked a little quicker for me. I was on the way to work and I didn't want to be late! ;-) Plus, the Nikon D90 has pretty good noise reduction up to about ISO 1600.

One other thing that I use to help clean things up is Imagenomic's Noiseware plugin for Photoshop.  It works wonders.  Here is a review of Noiseware and you can purchase it from Imagenomic here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hardtails


Hardtails, originally uploaded by EvanGearing.

Here in Georgetown, TX, we have a new bar/restaurant that just opened called "Hardtails". It's built and owned by the same people who run "Hog Alley" which is a Harley Davidson parts and service center, but not affiliated with Harley. The restaurant is a nice place and they have this HUGE ceiling fan that I heard about and that you can see in the picture. It looks like some sort of giant aircraft propeller. I suppose most ceiling fans do, but this one just has that look like it belongs on a C-130 or something similar. At least I thought it was cool.

It was kind of hard to get this shot because the manager was a little scared that the competition would come in and take shots of his restaurant, so they were kind of leery letting me setup my tripod for some HDRs. They let me take a couple of quick handhelds and this is what I ended up with. It's a single raw that I tried to give the old HDR treatment to. It could've been better I suppose had I been able to do the whole tripod thing, but I wasn't gonna argue too much. Maybe someday I'll be able to go back and they'll be a little more accepting of the idea.

Hello

My name is Evan Gearing and I'm an aspiring photographer. I've been taking pictures for a long time, mainly snapshots from trips and of family and friends. However, now I'm getting a little more serious. I have picked up a DSLR and I'm discovering the world of high dynamic range (HDR) photography. A couple of big influences on my work go to a couple of people.. First is a co-worker of mine named Van Sutherland. He takes some great shots and he's the one who really gave me some tips on how to take and process HDR photos. Check out his flickr page. The other is Trey Ratcliff who is a pioneer in this medium and has the #1 travel photo blog.

My goal with this blog is to post my work and share the techniques of how I get the shots that I get. I'm also very new to blogging so I would welcome suggestions and advice on how to make this a little better.

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell. I hope you enjoy what I put here.

Thanks,

evan

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