Images & Observations

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HDR & Tone Mapping Exploration

After looking at more photographers’ examples of HDR in their portfolios and viewing some more tutorials I tried out some more of my newly acquired skills and got some more practice bringing it all together.

Nikon D80 18mm ISO 320 1/20 f/11 PSE8 PMXPro

These images were all captured at Paseo Pasadena, Pasadena, California.  Judy likes the building across the street, I do to, and I like the palm tree motif in the fence playing against the real palm trees behind it.  My goal in this picture and the next was to express a strong “architectural” feeling.

Nikon D80 18mm ISO 320 1/20 f/11 PSE8 PMXPro

The tone mapping is a bit more intense on this one, which captures the west end of Paseo Pasadena  I like the differences in textures between the glass, bricks and pavers, and still going for an “architectural rendering” style.

All of the photos were brought over to the computer from the camera as Nikon NEF raw files, converted to DNG raw files, HDR processed, tone mapped, then raw processed again and adjusted, then one of them was corrected for perspective and cropped.

Nikon D80 26mm ISO 1250 1/4 F/4.8 PSE8 PMXPro

The first two images were shot at approximately 6:00 P.M. in early September, the last of the Archlight Cinema was shot on the same day at approximately  7:45 P.M.  All were from hand held positions (in the wheel chair, which helped keep me steady).  The blurred image in front of the kiosk in the foreground is people moving, I did not try “freezing” any images of the people, my primary interest was to capture the colors and texture of the scene, and I wanted to deliberately let some of the people move during exposure to create an idea of movement.

Variations Of An HDR Image


I’ve been practicing techniques  and improving my skills using Photomatix Pro and Adobe Photoshop Elements for post camera processing of HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. The trees in the slide show below were captured at Grant Rea Park, Montebello, California.

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Another Photoshop Exercise

“Blue Nails”

This image was captured last January and was made in open shade and it depicts two family members.

Nikon D80 62mm ISO 200 1/25 f/5.3 PSE8 PMXPro

What I did to achieve the end result:

  1. The image came from a single raw (Nikon NEF) file that I converted to DNG using Photoshop.
  2. Still in raw processing I created three versions, one with the original exposure settings, one 2 EV under exposed, one 2 EV over exposed.
  3. Using Photomatix Pro, made it a pseudo HDR image by combining and tone mapping the three raw images in to a JPG.
  4. Using Photoshop (in this and all subsequent steps) corrected the perspective of the vertical elements and slightly modified the horizontal perspective (the original image was made from a low angle that made the door sidelight and the column in the background appear to slant).
  5. Tightened the crop.
  6. Intensified the brightness in the model’s eyes.
  7. Whitened the teeth.
  8. Removed some facial blemishing/discoloration.
  9. Intensified the brightness and saturation of the blue finger nails (it was actual blue nail polish).
  10. Applied some sharpening to the overall image.

I am gradually developing my skills with Photoshop.  I’ve been using the video tutorials at which are quite helpful at understanding the power of Photoshop.

New Glass & Playing With Photoshop

I acquired a new Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED last week, here is  my first shot using it in the backyard.  I am lusting over some Adobe products now, they are offering Photoshop CS5 for $300 for users of Elements, and if you buy Lightroom at the same time, they will throw that in for $200  I played Lightroom tutorials this morning and I am getting hooked.  Photo gear is my crack.

Nikon D80 10mm ISO160 1/45 f/6.7 PSE8 PMXPro

After HDE processing and tone mapping in PhotomatixPro I manipulated it further in Photoshop Elements. What I did:

  1. Adjusted the perspective to remove most of the “tilting” of the block wall and the houses in the background.
  2. Removed the palm tree in the background.
  3. Changed the texture of the image using the Watercolor filter. (Click on the image to enlarge it and see more of the “watercolor” effect.)
  4. Brightened the overall image.
  5. Deepened the color saturation.
  6. Added posterized edges.

Ending The Week Back In The Natural World

Some shots captured near the end of the week at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden which is operated by Pomona College in Claremont, California.  Everything in these pictures is indigenous to California.

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Visiting The Boddy House

I am beginning to get out and about after a long period of being housebound.  One of the places that I visited this week was the Boddy House on the grounds of Los Angeles County’s Descanso Gardens which is located in La Cañada, California.  I have always been a fan of landscape photography, there are so many images to be found in the natural world and I want to develop my eye and my skills in capturing my vision of the natural world.

Nikon D80 55mm ISO 640 1/30 f/11 PSE8 PMXPro

Of the images captured this day, the one above was my favorite. The image is from three exposures, 2 EV apart from each other and then combined in the HDR process and further refined. My only regret this day was that I did not have a wider lens to work with in the oak forest. Descanso Gardens is criss crossed with narrow drives and foot paths, this is the drive leading to the Boddy House.

Nikon D80 18mm ISO 640 1/10 f/11 PSE8 PMXPro

This is a segment of the same drive, as we were heading away from the Boddy House. We were on foot and in the power chair, the only vehicles allowed on the drives are the tram tour vehicle and the grounds keepers’ powered carts.

Nikon D80 27mm ISO 640 1/30 f/11 PSE8 PMXPro

The Boddy House was the home of E. Manchester Boddy and his family. Boddy developed the property beginning in 1937.

All of the images could not have been made without the collaboration of Judy Frost.

Backyard Afternoon

My suburban backyard in Southern California.  I spent some time one afternoon challenging myself to find interesting images in the yard. These, and all other images in this blog are taken from the perspective of a man sitting in a power chair, and everything in this group is hand held.

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We have three fairly massive Bird of Paradise plants that have thrived since they were planted by Judy as seedlings. No blooms at the time these images were captured, but their leaves are always amazing.

The succulent Red Apple would overrun the yard from ground level if we allowed it.  And the Bouganvilla does an admirable job climbing the walls.

The irrigation is fairly sparse and the lawn may not be as deep a green as we’d like, but it does make a good carpet.

“After The Rain”

Nikon D80: 18mm ISO200 1/125 f/3.5 PSE8

This is one of the trees in front of my house and I shot it after a light rain had fallen and cleaned the air. Using Photoshop Elements I removed a distracting mailbox on a post behind the tree and added a softening texture with the “water color” filter.