Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Senate Chairs and HDR Efex Pro Quick Review

Senate Chairs

As usual, I'm a little late to the party. Nik Software's HDR Efex has been out quite a while now and there are a lot of reviews of it already. Money and time prevent me from getting the latest and greatest software out there as soon as it's released, but I finally had a chance to get the new HDR Efex from Nik Software and I must say, I'm quite impressed.

The shot above is nothing to write home about or even blog about for that matter, but it's one that I thought I'd use with HDR Efex.  The version I have is the Photoshop plugin.  To use it with Photoshop you just do the following:

Open up Bridge, select the brackets for your HDR and select Tools | Nik Software | Merge to HDR Efex Pro.  You will get a dialog that pops up asking about the brackets you want to use, strength of ghosting, etc.  I just used the defaults there and clicked on OK.  When it's done doing it's thing, you will get the standard Nik window with your merged image and many presets to the left.  I then go through and pick the preset I like most for the particular shot I'm working with. For the Senate Chairs shot above, I used the "Vibrant Scenery" preset.  That's it!

This is the how the shot looked after I completed that process with no noise reduction or sharpening done to it afterwards like I normally do.  I'm not sure if HDR Efex does that automatically or not, but it sure looks clean and sharp to me.  Maybe those things won't be needed anymore!  The other thing I like about this, just like with Photomatix, is that it keeps most of the EXIF data of the shot in the final image, unlike Photoshop which strips it out when you merge to HDR.

I highly recommend it and will have to play with it a little more to see what else it can do.  Check it out!

As far as the shot above goes, this is inside the Senate Chamber in the Texas Capitol Building.  I'm not sure who these chairs are for.  Maybe pages or aids of the senators when it's in session.  Who cares.  Anyway, like I said, the shot isn't that great, but I thought it worthy of posting since I used the new software.  Gotta get out and get some more stuff!

Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D300s
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
ISO: 200
Aperture: f3.5
Exposure Bias: 1.67
Shutter: 1/8
Focal Length: 18mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -0.33 to +3.67 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-30 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

373 in 1:05

Jim Nix, Dave Wilson and others found a cool app that will take your whole flickr portfolio and put it in a quick Vimeo video accompanied with some techno-like music.  It flies by pretty quickly, but it's pretty cool.  Take a look my site by clicking the play button (hope you aren't susceptible to migraines, because this could trigger one, hehe):

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Top 10 of 2010

Dave Wilson, Van Sutherland and Mike Criswell all posted their top 10 shots of the year.  It looks like a great idea, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Mine are nowhere near their league as those three are very good at their craft.  I just try to emulate them thinking I may learn something someday.  With that said, here are mine in no particular order with my thoughts underneath each shot:

Grace Heritage Center

Church Entrance

This is a shot of the Grace Heritage Center just off the square in Georgetown, TX. I liked this shot because of the lines in it. I converted it to black and white because it already had a monotone look to it in full color and the black and white treatment made it look even better in my opinion.


Stagecoach Inn Porch

Stagecoach Inn Porch

This is the old Stagecoach Inn in Salado, TX.  It has a great history and is a great subject for photography. I really liked how this porch shot turned out after the HDR process. It has that "painterly" look to it.

Texas State History Museum

Texas State History Museum

I think what I like about this one is the way the words "Texas State History Museum" look when lit up at night. 

MetroRail at Downtown Station

MetroRail At Downtown Station

This year, the agency I work for, Capital Metro, launched the new commuter rail system.  This image is of the train stopped at our Downtown Station.  It is one of my faves for a couple of reasons... For one, Capital Metro liked it so much that they bought it from me. That was my second sale of anything as far as my photography goes, minus some little microstock stuff. Also, this shot made the cover of the 2011 American Public Transportation Association Calendar.

Moon Over Texas State Capitol

Moon Over the Capitol (and the big blunder)

This is a shot that I didn't think would turn out because I messed up on the quality settings in my camera. However, it still turned out really nice with the moon and the lighting around the capital.

Bluebonnet Sunset

Bluebonnet Sunset

Springtime in Texas is beautiful and an area in Georgetown just off the Texas 130 toll road has one of the best bluebonnet fields in Central Texas. This shot was recognized by meteorologist Jim Spencer on his blog and during his evening weather forecast on KXAN in Austin, Texas.

Metro Streak

Metro Streak

I took this shot on the Metro in Washington DC. The streak of the train going by at this stop worked well here.

Amante's Restaurant Bar

Amante's Restaurant Tribute

Last January, the owner of Amante's Restaurant in Georgetown, Kim Daskam, asked me to shoot her restaurant for her website and other marketing ideas. It was a great experience. It was the first time anyone contracted with me to shoot anything of theirs and it was the first sale I ever made. Unfortunately, the restaurant did not make it, but I really appreciated the opportunity!

The Old Coffee Pot

'The Old Coffee Pot' bar and kitchen, New Orleans

Speaking of restaurants, this is the inside of "The Old Coffee Pot" in New Orleans, LA. They server a killer eggs creole! Check it out if you ever get there.

Superdome Panorama

Who Dat Nation (Superdome Interior Panorama)

Lastly, I like to shoot panoramas sometimes and the Superdome in New Orleans was a great subject for this. My panos don't always turn out, but I think this one did. 

Well that's my picks for 2010.  I really enjoy doing HDR photography, but I think I might try some other styles in the new year.  I'm not quite sure what those will be yet, but I'm slowly getting some ideas.  We'll see what the new year brings.  Have yourself a great finish to 2010 and have an even better 2011!  Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Texas House of Reps with Christmas Tree

Texas House With Tree Panorama

At lunch last Thursday, my friend and co-worker Van Sutherland and I took a quick trip to the Texas Capitol to see if there were any good Christmas shots we could get. First we went to the Senate chamber and it didn't have anything in it, although we both took a couple of shots. Then we traveled to the other side into the House and sure enough, it was decorated with a great tree! I tried various angles to try and capture it since I only brought my 18-200 lens with me. But, I wasn't too satisfied with those so I thought it was time to try an HDR panorama. That's what I have here. It's a two show pano with five brackets each. I kind of like it, but the final shot doesn't follow some basic photography rules such as the rule of thirds. Oh well. It was still fun to put it together. Maybe in the future I'll try some more panos.

To see this shot bigger, click on the picture which will take you to my flickr site and once you get to flickr, go to Actions | View all sizes and click on the original.

This shot was processed as usual.  But, I put together two shots using Photoshop CS4's automerge function.

Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D300s
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
ISO: 200
Aperture: f16
Exposure Bias: 1.00
Shutter: 4 & 0.8
Focal Length: 18mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -2 to +1 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-30 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Texas Capitol Tree and Menorah

Texas Capitol Tree and Menorah

This is a shot of the south side of the Texas Capitol from about one block away on Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas. As you can see, it's decorated with a Christmas tree as well as a menorah to celebrate the upcoming holidays. Of course the tree and menorah are on the sidewalk outside the grounds for some reason. I'm not sure if it's because of the politically correct climate we now find ourselves in these days or if it's just because of some other reason. At least, however, they are there and that's a good thing.

I think the thing I like most about this shot is the two cops on bicycles waiting for the light to change. I didn't even realize they were there when I took this shot. Plus, like good bicyclists, they are observing the rules of the road! That is another thing that is not often seen by your humble blogger here. I'm pro-bicyclist but when they don't observe the rules of the road, yet expect automobilists (a new word I just made up) to do so, it drives me crazy! OK, maybe that's not in the spirit of the season, but it feels good to get that off my chest!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photo and thanks for visiting!

This shot was processed as usual

Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D300s
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
ISO: 200
Aperture: f11
Exposure Bias: 0.00
Shutter: 2.5
Focal Length: 32mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 4 exposures with EVs ranging from -2 to +1 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-30 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mary on the Altar at Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose Altar

I had to dig into the vault to pull this one out, but it seemed appropriate for the holidays. It's also appropriate since I really haven't been out to shoot a whole lot of stuff lately.

So I took this shot down in San Antonio, Texas at the Mission San Jose. Very picturesque place it is. It's on of a few missions down there that are pretty close together. Sometime I'll have to get back down there and shoot the others. As far as I know, this is the only one that still has an active church in it. The other missions have churches, but I'm not sure if they still have active congregations. Anyway, it's a great place to visit if you are ever in San Antonio.

The following is from the mission's website:

"Known as the "Queen of the Missions", this is the largest of the missions and was almost fully restored to its original design in the 1930s by the WPA (Works Projects Administration). Spanish missions were not churches, but communities, with the church the focus. Mission San José shows the visitor how all the missions might have looked over 250 years ago."

Sorry, but I don't have the exif data or the info on how I processed this one because I'm currently trying to clean up space on the old hard drive here and I deleted the brackets since I'm pretty happy with the final result.  However, I'm pretty sure I processed it the usual way.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seton Williamson Hospital Lobby

Seton Williamson Entrance

The Seton Family of Hospitals has branches all over the Austin area. My wife Eileen now works at the Williamson County location and thought I might like to shoot there.  I was up for that!

This location opened about a year or two ago and is very close to our home; 6 miles to be exact. It's very convenient for Eileen! I wish I could find work so close. It beats the 28 mile one-way commute I have to endure. Waaa. Anyway, the hospital is very nice and new and, as you can see here in the lobby, they have a couple of white Christmas trees set up with red bulbs on them. I remember those kind of trees from the 1970s. I guess they are coming back.

One other thing that's cool about this place is that Seton is a Catholic institution and there are crosses everywhere, yet they are subtle.  I'm sure you can find a couple in this shot. 

Lastly, I wish this would've come through in the photo, but the green portion of the wall behind the counter in the back of the shot is a waterfall.  It's very cool, but you wouldn't know it from looking at this shot.

This shot was processed as usual

Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D300s
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM Autofocus Zoom
ISO: 200
Aperture: f11
Exposure Bias: +0.33
Shutter: 1
Focal Length: 11.5mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -2 to +2 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Manual
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-30 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com

Friday, December 10, 2010

Texas Capitol From Under Christmas Tree

Texas Capitol From Under Christmas Tree

Just off the south side of the Texas Capitol Building lies a Christmas tree and a Menorah for the holidays. They are on the sidewalk that passes in front of the Capitol on 11th Street. I tried to get a good shot of the Capitol with some of the lights and stuff from the tree but I don't think my Sigma 10-20mm was quite wide enough. I guess a panorama was needed here. Oh well. Something to think about for next time.

Thanks for dropping by and see you next time!

This shot was processed as usual

Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D300s
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM Autofocus Zoom
ISO: 200
Aperture: f11
Exposure Bias: 0.00
Shutter: 3
Focal Length: 12mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -2 to +2 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-30 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com

Monday, December 6, 2010

Williamson County Courthouse Christmas Tree

Williamson County Courthouse Christmas Tree

This is another shot I took last year, but I thought it was worthy of posting. The old Williamson County Courthouse has multiple levels inside and each level has a balcony looking down to the ground floor in the middle. The tree they put in every year is tall enough to reach from the ground floor up to the third level and is very pretty with the red ornamentation they put on it. This shot is looking up from the bottom floor.

I can't remember for sure how I processed this one, but I think I used Topaz Adjust more than anything. I hope you enjoy it.

Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM Autofocus Zoom
ISO: 200
Aperture: f11
Exposure Bias: 0.00
Shutter: 3
Focal Length: 10mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -2 to +2 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Impeccable Dallas

Impeccable Dallas

This weekend, Eileen and I went up to Dallas on Saturday to see a show up there. We went to see a show put on by a couple guys from a cable news outfit. I won't bore you with the details about the show. However, getting TO the show was a scary adventure. It was at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Fair Park is where the Texas State Fair is every year and also home to The Cotton Bowl. It was only about 6 miles from where we stayed. But, we didn't have directions so we asked the person who checked us into our room how to get there. She pulled up some directions off of Google, but those directions didn't take us to Fair Park. The route took us by there, but we ended up off of Dolphin and Spring roads. You talk about a scary neighborhood. Imagine the south side of Chicago or maybe Compton, CA. Those places seemed like Beverly Hills compared to where we ended up. Needless to say we got the f*** out of there in a hurry! We proceeded to stop at a gas station to get directions and the nice gentleman working behind the bullet-proof protected counter told us two ways to get there; either take this one road or take the highway which was backed up due to Big 12 Championship traffic (I think). He recommended the highway because he didn't like the neighborhoods. No sh**! Well, we took the first way anyway because we didn't want to end up in traffic. That was a bad area, but not as bad as where we came from. AND, it didn't take us to Fair Park, it just took us back to the highway. So, we got on the highway, found Fair Park and made it to the Music Hall. When we got to the Hall, we subsequently did a post-mission check of our vehicle for bullet holes, dents, and just general damage. Thankfully, none found. OK, we didn't really do that, but looking back, it seemed like we should've. ;-)

That brings us to the picture. The hotel we stayed at was the Hyatt Summerfield Suites on Harry Hines Blvd. It was a very nice place and if you ever go to Dallas, I would recommend it. Just don't get your directions to anywhere from anyone working there! They have a parking garage there which is about 4 levels high. That's where this shot came from. It's the view of Dallas from there. Just out of the shot to the right is the American Airlines Arena. I would've tried to shoot that, but it was obscured by trees, powerlines, etc.

This isn't the greatest shot I've taken in the world, but I liked the way it turned out for the most part and I thought it might be worth throwing up on the old blog, especially since I haven't gotten anything that new lately. Time get back out there!

Thanks for stopping by!

This shot was processed a little differently... I merged 5 brackets in Photomatix 4 and used the Fusion mode versus the usual tonemapping with details enhancer.  It looked better.  Then I opened it in Photoshop CS4, reduced the noise with Noiseware Pro's Weaker setting and did some tweaking in Nik Color Efex 3.


Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D300s
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
ISO: 200
Aperture: f4.2
Exposure Bias: 0.00
Shutter:0.8
Focal Length: 34mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -3 to +3 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-30 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com

Disqus for Evan's Expo