Winter Storm Clouds


The Kansas State University Olathe campus is closed tomorrow because of the weather, still not sure if the campus here in Manhattan will be open or not.  I’m guessing it will be business as usual. Last week we got hit pretty good, maybe 7-8 inches of snow, not the 12-15 I was expecting and kinda hoping for, but I didn’t waste what “little” we had.  It started out as just a small group of us friends throwing snowballs at each other but it morphed into this epic snowball fight with like 20 people!  It was a lot of fun.

Anyway, with all this snowy weather we’re having, I decided to post this image.  I actually took this back in January.  I think I was on my way to class or on my way to the office.  I was carrying my camera, using my Carry Speed Strap, so it was handy and easy to get to.  I take my camera with me everyday, but I usually have it in my bag, and I’ve found that unless I have it out of the bag, even if I have it with me all the time, I’m not going to take more photos.  That’s why I got the Carry Speed Strap, so I could easily carry it outside the bag and be ready to take and make photos.

This photo is a HDR image.  I used Photomatix Pro to merge three DNG RAW photos bracketed from -2EV to +2EV.  I then imported the merged or tonemapped image into Aperture 3 (I use Aperture 3 to manage all my photos).  I did a few adjustments in Aperture like exposure and added contrast using curves.  I lightened certain parts of the image with the dodge tool, just brushing it in on parts of the lamp-post and some of the snow.  I also used the intensify contrast brush (I really like this one!) to darken the clouds in the background a bit more and make them stand out a bit.  I then used Nik Color Efex Pro Aperture plugin to bring out some more detail and add some “brilliance” to the photo.  The last step was to send it to Photoshop for sharpening with the unsharp mask filter.  That was pretty much it.

Winter Storm Clouds

 

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/10
3 image HDR, bracketed from -2 EV to +2 EV

 

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Big 12 Football Championship: Rushing the Field


This was taken just after the Kansas State Wildcats defeated the Texas Longhorns to secure the Big 12 Football Championship.  Fans (mostly the student section) rushed the field and although it probably wouldn’t have happened, the group of people wearing yellow jackets were stationed around the goal posts to protect them from being taken down.  The reason I wasn’t down on the field was because I wasn’t able to get a press pass to shoot the game from the sidelines.

This panorama was processed using the same technique in the tutorial I wrote.  If you haven’t yet, make sure to check it out.  I’m quite surprised how well this image turned out.  I was shooting in bracket mode, hand holding the camera (no tripod), had the ISO up to 1600 and people were moving all over the place, but there really isn’t any ghosting in the photos.  Photomatix Pro does a really good job of removing it and aligning the source images.  I used to use the Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3, but I stopped a few weeks ago and started using Photomatix Pro because the results are so much better.  You can see the difference here.  The only disadvantage to using Photomatix Pro is that I have to export the original files from Aperture and process them in Photomatix Pro and then import the results back into Aperture, but it’s worth the extra hassle.

2012 Big 12 Football Championship Celebration

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 1600
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/11
15 images stitched into a HDR Panorama using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

Do you think this image is good enough to get into the student yearbook?

The Fountain at Jardine


I processed a similar image last year, which was taken from the ground, at the end of the pond.  It’s now the image I use for the header of this site and you can also check out my Lights of Jardine post to see it.  This image was taken a few months after the first one.  In this photo I was able to capture the fountain while it was lit up and the long shutter speed (several seconds) made it nice and silky.  I took this from a third floor balcony of one of the apartments, so this is the kind of view you would get if you were living there.

Processing the image proved to be a bit of a challenge.  I used the brushes in Aperture 3 to tune specific parts of the photo, mostly applying the “intensify contrast” adjustment. (I’m thinking about writing a tutorial on how I processed this photo.)  An aperture of f/8 was enough to give the lights a star like effect.  The most challenging part to edit was the edge between the roofs and the sky.  The result of the HDR processing was quite noisy so I used Noiseware to take care of it, although I did loose some detail.  Sharpening was done in Photoshop using the unsharp mask filter.  It does a good job.

The Fountain at Jardine

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA L 18-55
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/8
3 image HDR, bracketed from -2 EV to +2 EV

Sunset on a Farm


I enjoy shooting into the sun and trying to capture it right before it disappears.  Notice how flat this place is?  That’s south, central Kansas and boy are the sunsets beautiful there.  I also like the tractors!  The one on the left is hooked up to a planter, incase you were wondering.

I actually processed this photo a couple of months ago and decided to reprocess it, this time using Photomatix Pro instead of the Photomatix Aperture Plugin.  I think the results are better this time. A lot cleaner for sure.  I like it.

Sunset on a Farm

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 80
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/13
HDR Composite using 6 photos from -3 EV to +4 EV
Merged using the Photomatix Plug-in for Aperture 3

Dawn Creeps Over the Mountains


Photomatix Pro & Photomatix Plugin for Aperture 3 comparison

So I was going through my photo collection in Aperture 3 and I saw this sunrise photo that I’d processed a couple of years ago with I think the Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3.  I’m not sure though, it might have been the standalone, Photomatix Pro.  So I decided to process the original files for that image and see if I could do a better job.  So I opened the three source photos in the latest Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3 and started processing.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.  I could not do it.  The results were just terrible compared to what I’d done before.  The detail, the color, the sharpness, it just wasn’t there.  So I reprocessed it again, and the results were a little better, but still awful.  Now, its normal that your editing skills go up and down, but, man, I was thinking that I’d completely forgotten how to edit.  So I tried it again and again and again and the results were the same.  I was getting frustrated, so after two hours of moving sliders back and forth, I fired up the latest, standalone, Photomatix Pro (v4.2) application, loaded the source files, pre-processed them, and without even moving any sliders, just with the default settings, the image looked amazing compared to what I was getting with the plugin.  The details in the shadows were back, there was less noise, and the image was sharper.  I learned something today, don’t use the Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3, use the standalone application.

This is the image I processed a few years ago, maybe using Photomatix Pro or the Plugin (I kinda think that they’ve gone backwards with the plugin).

Break of Dawn Across the Rice Paddies

This is the image I just processed using the standalone application, Photomatix Pro.

Break of Dawn Across the Rice Paddies

This is the image I that I just processed using the Photomatix  plugin for Aperture 3.

Break of Dawn Across the Rice Paddies

The top two are about the same, some lighting differences, but in terms of detail they’re about the same.  The second one is just a  bit sharper because I added more sharpening.  The third image has horrible detail in the shadows.  You can really see that detail is lacking in the grass and in the walls of the shack.

Here are crops (if you open the image by itself you can see the 100% crop) of the three images.  The top one being on the left and the bottom one being on the right.  What do you think?

CropComparison

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax k-x
Lens: DA-L 18-55
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/16
HDR Composite using 3 photos from -2 EV to +2 EV