Texas State House – B&W

REC-20140525-054531

This was my third visit to the Texas state capitol. After spending a couple of hours touring the building and walking the grounds, I was scouting for compositions I wanted to return and shoot the next morning. It was this shot using the Capitol’s Extension Open-Air Rotunda to merge the architecture of the original 1880 building with the 1993 underground extension that really intrigued me. I love the way the symmetry of the rotunda balances with the capitol building, and how the new and old blend together seamlessly. I was hoping that the early-morning light would bathe the building with beautiful morning colors.

But when the alarm rang the next morning, it was raining. I don’t know why I didn’t give up—perhaps that old saying was haunting me; bad weather makes for good photography. I did manage to take a shot. I actually took a single set of 9 bracketed exposures from this location. The single color shot from this location was uninteresting.  Processing all 9 shots with Photomatix looked quite good, although it did have an HDR grunge look. What I particularly liked was how the sky and building balanced adding mystery to this  ominous feeling image. In the end, the color had to go as I felt it was more of a distraction.

I used Photomatix Pro to process the 9 exposures, Photoshop to clean-up the image of dust spots, and remove the police car that was parked on the left side of the Rotunda. Finally I used Nik’s Sliver Effect to convert to black & white.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 @ 14mm
Exposure: Manual ISO 100; 1 sec @ f/11 (initial exposure)
Bracketed exposure: 9 shots; 1/3 stop increments.
Shooting Mode: Continuous High Speed on a Tripod.

PhotoSlate – the movie slate app for digital still photographers.

PhotoSlate-Main-iPhoine5

Have you ever found yourself looking at your photograph archive and wondering “Where did I take that photo?” or looking at a photograph and trying to plan the best time to go back to that location?

Perhaps you took a single shot of a landscape, and then decided you should also take a couple of sets of bracketed exposures, and you even shot a set of images for focus stacking. You move your composition slightly and repeat. Back in the digital darkroom, you’re trying to figure out which images belong together.

In the past I used a cue-card system to solve these issues. It’s really quite simple; I would carry a stack of index cards, and write down pertinent information about the photograph I was about to take. I would first photograph the cue-card then photograph the subject—I even had an END cue-card to mark the end of a sequence. The movie industry has been doing this for quite some time to keep track of their takes using what is commonly referred to as a Movie Slate or Clapper Board.  This syncs sound and provides other pertinent information that is needed in post-production. 

For the past few years I have been searching for the “movie slate” app for digital still photographers. An app that would provide location information GPS, Compass Heading, Location Name, Address, as well as the type or sequence and the number of images that make-up the sequence. 

I have yet to find one…

So, I created my own.

AlwaysPhotographing is proud to announce PhotoSlate. A pre-production in-field application to capture the photographic meta-data that your camera doesn’t.

Start up PhotoSlate and in a few seconds, PhotoSlate will get your GPS location, heading, and using reverse geocoding will also find the location name and address of where you are standing. Tap the SHOT and FRMS fields, and quickly change the type of photo sequence and number of frames. Tap the LOC or ADDRESS fields, and you can provide your own location name and address. Return to that location in the future and PhotoSlate remembers your inputs and uses them.

In a location where there is no internet or cell service? Although PhotoSlate will be unable to reverse geocode, as long as the GPS is functioning, you can still manually enter your location and address information, and when you return to the same spot in the future, PhotoSlate will remember your information and will reverse geocode using your local data.

Additional Information PhotoSlate.

Link to the PhotoSlate Manual.

PhotoSlate

Version 1.0

Texas State Capitol

REC-20140524-123309-HDR-Edit-2It seams that the only time I am at the Texas State Capitol is in mid afternoon on a cloudless day. A bright sun just behind the dome washes out the building. Another issue I had with photographing the capitol is that it is so wide, that I would need to stitch at least two photos together in order to capture the entire length of the building.

Once again, I found myself at the capitol at the wrong time of day, but this time I had two things going for me. First, I had my new Nikon 14-28mm f/2.8 lens, which was wide enough to capture the entire building. Second, it was cloudy out, so the sun was not a big white blob just above the dome washing out the entire photo.

I thought that an HDR shot would be perfect as it is always good for bringing out details in the clouds and building and creates a dramatic image.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm
Exposure: ISO 100; 1/30 sec @ f22 (initial exposure)
Bracketed exposure: 9 shots; 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, +1, +2, +3, +4 stops
Shooting Mode: Continuous High Speed on a tripod.
Focus Point: Beginning of basement glass sun roof (in the foreground).

Globe Life Park – Texas Rangers – Infield

GlobeLifePark-infield

I had tickets for game two of the three game series Boston Red Sox against the Texas Rangers at the Globe Life Park played May 9, 10, 11 2014.

I had always wanted a panoramic shot of a professional baseball field — like the posters that you see at the team sporting shops. I alway thought that you had to be the park official photographer sporting a special pass. A more practical approach, I thought, was to purchase the optimal stadium photographic seat in the park (if you could figure out what seat that actually was). I had neither. The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox tend to draw large crowds in Texas, so I was lucky enough to have a ticket to a sell-out game.

I wanted a panoramic HDR shot of the field behind home plate after the sun has set.  The game started at 7:05, so I thought I would have to wait for the third or fourth inning before I attempted the shot. The good thing was that by then everyone has settled down and is engaged in watching the game. Also the section seating attendants have stopped denying access to fans trying to get into sections they do not have a seat in.

I headed up to the upper level of the park and peaked into each section until I found the section looking over home plate. I then went back out and set up my camera and monopod and got all my camera settings ready for my rapid fire HDR sequences. I then went back in, and politely asked the section attendant if I could take a photo. To my surprise he said “Sure, just don’t block anyone and don’t stay too long.” I then went to the top of the stairs and took three sets of nine exposures, left, center and right. I did this two times, then moved to the railing overlooking the park and repeated the process.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Nikon 14-24 mm f/2.8 @ 14mm
Exposure: ISO 1250; 1/250 sec at f/5.6 (initial exposure)
Bracketed exposure: 9 shots; 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, +1, +2, +3, +4 stops
Shooting Mode: Continuos High Speed at 12 Frames a second on a monopod.
Total  27 images (9 left, 9 center, 9 right).

I processed the photos first in Photmatix Pro, I started with the center section to get the look I wanted, then I saved the settings as a preset and used it to process the left and right HDR sets of images. I then used Microsoft’s ICE software to stitch the the 3 HDR images together.

Globe Life Park – Texas Rangers – Outfield

REC-20140509-195037_222_342_419-Edit

Being a Bostonian transplanted to Texas, the arrival of the Red Sox for a three game series inspired me to photograph the Ranger’s ball park. Unlike Fenway, Global Life Park is situated in a big field making it easier to get an external shot. I had tickets for game two, but I decided to go out to the field for game one to get some evening external shots with the lights on.

Researching the the location before hand using Google Maps, I noticed that the field had two ponds located on the north and west side of the field. I wanted an evening photo with the glow of the stadium lights. The slight water vapor in the air would be good for the dome glow effect. The pond on the west side of the stadium was ideal as the sun setting behind me would not interfere with the lights from the stadium. The trick is to get the sky dark enough so that we can see the glow from the stadium lights, but with enough ambient light to illuminate the exterior facade.

I got to the park about an hour before sunset, and scoped out the best shooting location. It was a bit windy, so I decided that a long exposure would be best to soften the ripples in the water. Initially I used the Tiffen Variable Neutral Density ND Filter – 2 to 8 Stop Light Control; ISO 100; f16 – 22 for 30 second exposures. As it got darker, the need for the ND diminished; and the stadium lights kept getting better. This final print came from my last shots.

The final image is comprised of three images ISO 100, f16 10s, 15s, and 30s. They were merged together using Photomatics Pro software. Final edits in Lightroom using the gradient filter over the ball park to enhance to lighten and cool down the color of the glow hovering just above the stadium. I used the dodge tool to brighten up the trees in front of the stadium and added a slight Orton effect. Finally a little vignette to darken the edges to highlight the stadium.

How to Take HDR Photos with an iPhone

1172678_10201050701645506_374349454_o

© Richard Cox

Learn how and when to use your iPhone camera’s built in HDR mode.  You don’t need to be an expert on High Dynamic Range photography to leverage this powerful feature to capture better photos. Your iPhone camera has a built-in HDR mode that will automatically produce HDR images.

Camera Settings

  • Select the “Settings” icon
  • Scroll to “Photos & Camera” on the Settings page
  • Enable the “HDR (HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE) option
  • Enable or disable the “Keep Normal Photo” option. If enabled, this will save both an HDR and a normal version of each photo. It is recommended that you enable this feature because HDR will not always produce a better photo.
  • Take photos. You will get HDR photos as long as you keep these settings.
  • Turn HDR on and off for individual photos by tapping “HDR On” or “HDR Off” on the top bar of the Camera app.

Try HDR in the following situations

  1. Closeups
  2. Outdoor shots. HDR will be particularly useful for portraits and scenes with strong lighting differences
  3. Scenes without moving subjects. HDR works by blending multiple images (normal, under-exposed, and over-exposed) so if the subject moves between these shots, the final HDR image will be blurry.
  4. Dimly lit scenes when you are not using flash. HDR is not available when using flash, so you will have to choose one or the other. HDR is the better choice when photographing a scene beyond the reach of your flash. You may also prefer result in cases where either approach would work. Try them both!

Related links

  • How to Create a High Dynamic Range Photograph