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



Kansas State University150th Anniversary Kick-Off

Wow, it’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything.  I’ve been super busy and things have been a little on the crazy side.  I feel like I’m getting kinda behind on things.  I actually meant to post this a week ago, but it’s been crunch time for one of my projects and a bunch of other things that also need attention.

A week ago, on Valentine’s Day, Kansas State University officially kicked-off its 150th Anniversary celebrations.  I thought it would be this huge event, but it turned out to be just a short program at Ahearn Fieldhouse.  There were lots of high-profile people there, like Sam Brownback, the governor of Kansas.  There were a ton of free cupcakes and ice cream, and part of the marching band was there, but, overall, I was actually a little underwhelmed.

I didn’t take too many photos and I didn’t bother to take photos of people, even the famous ones.  I’ve found that most people shots, especially of people I don’t know, even if they’re performing on stage, bore me.  There is one exception, I do like to take photos of cute little kids playing and having fun.  Like there was this one little girl (I actually know her parents) who was so excited to see Willie the Wildcat and get his signature and give him a high-five, it was so cute and genuine.  That reminds me, I’ll actually be shooting a friend’s kid’s birthday party tomorrow.

So, anyway, instead of people photos, I shot a panorama of the entire event from the other end of Ahearn.  Panorama’s of landscapes, those are what I really enjoy shooting.  What I’m posting today is the one I’ve finished processing.  I’ve got a couple more to do, but this will probably be the only one I’ll post here.  If you’re wondering how I process these, take a look at my HDR-Panorama tutorial.

KSU 150th Anniversary Kick Off

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/14
39 images stitched into a HDR Panorama using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

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?

Dark and Spooky

It turned out to be a nice and warm day.  It rained a little bit in the morning, but the afternoon was partly cloudy with the temperature in the sixties!  Just after sunset, I took a stroll through campus, camera in hand.  I walked around Hale Library, checking out different angles and thinking about doing a sunrise shot, but realized that it wouldn’t work since the Sun rose on the south side of the building.  So I kept walking and came up on Anderson Hall and something about the light, the lampposts, the wet pavement and the clouds just said spooky and haunted.  So I wanted to capture and convey that.

I shot this image hand-held, bracketing from -1 EV to +1 EV in Av mode.  I dialed up the ISO to 3200 to get the shutter speed fast enough to get a sharp image, since I didn’t have a tripod.  Initial processing was done in Photomatix Pro and sharpening was done in Photoshop.  I played around with different filters in Color Efex Pro 4 to get the look and mood I wanted.  If you haven’t yet, check out the Modern Film Filters.

Haunted/Spooky Anderson Hall at Kansas State University

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 3200
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/6.3
3 image HDR, bracketed from -1 EV to +1 EV

Tutorial: HDR-Panorama Using Photomatix and Photoshop

In this post I will show you how I made the 180 degree, HDR panorama of the imploded Dev Nelson press-box and Bill Snyder Family Stadium at Kansas State University using Photomatix and Photoshop.


I setup at the middle of the highest row in the stands so that I was inline with the 50 yard line.  I used a wireless remote to trigger the camera (Pentax K-5), which was mounted on a tripod with a ball head, and set to bracket mode (-2EV, 0EV, +2EV).  I started shooting from the left and panned to the right, taking three shots per stop, making sure I had enough overlap between stops.  I took a total of 36 images and with 3 images per stop it came out to 9 stops, so I was panning around 20° between stops. I shot in RAW-DNG.  I then imported the images into Aperture 3 where I rename, tag, and organize the photos.


I’ll go over a quick overview of the major steps I took to process the photos and then go into more detail of how to do it.  The first step was to create the merged HDR files, using Photomatix Pro, for each set of bracketed images.  The second major step was to take these HDR images and merge them in Photoshop CS6 to create the panorama.  I’ve found that this is a good way to do it.  You might think that you should create three separate panoramas (one panorama for the -2 EV photos, one for the 0 EV, and one for the +2EV photos) and then merge these three panoramas in Photomatix to create a single HDR image.  I’ve found that this does not work very well and you run into problems.

So, the first step was to select the 36 images in Aperture 3 and export the originals into a folder.  When you are processing HDR images, you want to work with the RAW files (not jpegs) this way you have more data to work with.

Select photos in aperture

Export original photos to a folder

The next step was to choose one set of bracketed photos to process in Photomatix Pro.  The resulting Photomatix settings used to process this first set would then be used to process the rest of the bracketed sets using the batch processing feature of Photomatix Pro.  I selected a set that included the other side of the stadium, the field, and the demolished press-box.

load a set of bracketed images into photomatix

Photomatix then asks what pre-process settings to use.  Here are the settings I used.

 photomatix pre-process settings

I then moved sliders back and forth in Photomatix until I got a look that I was happy with.  I wanted to bring out the details in the image, but I didn’t want it to look “fake” or cartoonish – you know, that obvious HDR look that is full of halos.  Here are the final settings.

Photomatix Settings

I then saved the settings as a preset to process the other images.  The next step was to batch process the rest of the images (Batch Bracketed Photos) and here are the settings I used.

Batch Process Photos Menu in Photomatix

Batch Process Photos using Photomatix and previous settings

After Photomatix finished creating the HDR images, I fired up Photoshop CS6 and merged them using the Photomerge option under Automate.

Automate Merging in Photoshop

Select Photomerge

Here are the settings I used for the photomerge.

Photoshop merge settings

Photoshop then merged and aligned the photos, which took some time.

Photoshop aligning the photos

This was the result of the photomerge, a bunch of layers that fit together.

result of the photomerge

As you can see, the resulting image wasn’t perfectly oriented. So I created a smart-object from the layers (select them all, right-click, and select the create a smart-object option).  I then rotated the smart object, grabbed the rectangular selection tool and created a new layer from the selection (right-click on the selection and click the new layer from copy option).  I then turned this layer into another smart-object.

create a smart-object from all the layers

Straighten the smart object then make a selection and make a new layer from the selection

I then saved this straightened and “cropped” layer as a new file.  To do this I right-clicked on the layer and selected the export contents option and saved it as a .psb file (not .psd).

I then opened this file up and further processed it using Color Efex Pro, Noiseware, and Photoshop adjustment layers.

Make adjustments in photoshop

I then saved this and exported a TIFF version.  I imported the TIFF version into Aperture 3, cropped it and this was the final result.

180 Degrees: Dev Nelson Press Box Demolition

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.