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?

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.

180° Panorama – Dev Nelson Press Box: Imploded

Morning, early, cold, cloudy, on December 15, the day we had to move out of the dorm for Christmas break, that was the day the Dev Nelson Press Box at Bill Snyder Family Stadium was taken down.  There was a crowd there as this was somewhat of a historical moment.  The view wasn’t very good from the side, where security kept us behind the line.  Only a few, privileged individuals, were allowed on the east side of the stadium to watch the implosion with an unobstructed view.  University cameras were stationed at all the best spots, capturing both stills and video, the rest of us, well… we could see through a gap on the north-east corner.  So, I didn’t get a great shot of the actual implosion, just the results, after we were allowed into the stadium.

From the highest point on the east side, I setup, inline with the 50-yard marker, I took 36 shots from left to right, 180°.  I divided it up into 9 sections, taking 3 bracketed shots per section, from -2EV to +2EV.  Merged the bracketed photos of each section in Photomatix Pro, then stitched the merged images in Photoshop to get the panorama.  I then straightened, cropped, and applied adjustments in Aperture, Photoshop, and Color Efex Pro.  After several hours, here are the results.
180 Degrees: Dev Nelson Press Box Demolition

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 400
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/11
36 images stitched into a HDR Panorama using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

I am planning to post somewhat of a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this.

Painted Sky Over Makiling

You all have seen how the sky and clouds can light up into beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange right before sunset.  Well, whenever I see that happen, I think of how God is again displaying his creativity by painting the sky.  It just blows me away sometimes.

UPLB is right at the foot of Mt. Makiling and when it’s not raining or overcast, the sky right before dusk, is usually quite beautiful.  I wanted to capture that beauty and color of the sky without anything like trees or posts or power lines in the way.  So I went up to the rooftop of the AMTEC building, which houses my department, and started shooting.  During this time I was into panoramas and had I discovered the FREE photo stitching software, Hugin, that is so amazing and has versions for Mac, Windows, and Linux.  So, to capture the whole scene, and since I didn’t (and still don’t) have a wide angle lens, I shot several photos to stitch into a panorama.  I’ve forgotten how many photos I took for this image, maybe 3 or 4.  Actually, I might have taken more because the final image looks like it’s a HDR image.  So, I probably took around 12 or 16 photos and bracketed from EV -2 to +2.  I should have used a tripod, but I did not have one at the time, so I used a monopod.  I shot with the Pentax k-x and the 18-55 mm kit lens.  I opened the photos with Hugin, which is pretty easy to use once you figure it out, and let it do its thing.  Hugin can combine several exposures to make a HDR image as well, which is a very cool feature.  Once the photos were stitched, I dis some contrast and other adjustments in Aperture and this is the result.

Painted Sky Over Makiling