We are still at the San Bernardino Railroad & History Museum this week, and as we started last week off with a vintage piece of fire fighting apparatus, this week starts with a view of SAN B’DINO HOSE No. 1, a horse drawn truck for transporting the fire hose to the fire.
As with the majority of my images, the three frames that make up this image were shot hand-held. The camera raw images were converted to DNG in Lightroom and then processed with Nik Software’s HDR Efrex Pro using a custom preset that I had previously devised. This composited the three images together and tone mapped the result. I used a custom preset in HDR Exfex Pro that I had previously devised, and the composite image only required very minimal “tweaking”. The image was then moved in to Photo Shop and a duplicate background layer was created which then had a Gaussian blur applied. I then masked out the fire truck, removing the blur from the truck. A duplicate layer was created and then processed in Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3, the entire image, except the masked out truck, was modified by applying Color Efex Pro’s Midnight-Bright Sepia filter. There was minor fine tuning along the way, and I spent some time magnifying the image and cleaning up edges of masking that overlapped, or underlapped.
I thoroughly enjoyed post processing this image and I think it has a nice, vintage feel to it, yet retains great clarity and detail on the truck.
Please click on the image to view it in high resolution.
Prior to capturing the image of the “Heritage Boxcar” that I posted this past Monday, I captured a few sets of brackets of the Hale House at Heritage Square, Los Angeles. The Hale House was constructed in 1887 in the Queen Anne and Eastlake styles by George W. Morgan who was a land speculator and real estate developer. The house was moved from its original location to a second location and changed hands a number of times before being purchased by James Gl Hale. Hale lived in the house a few years until he separated from his wife Bessie. After the separation Bessie Hale retained title to the house and lived in it until her death in a rest home in 1967, and ran the house as a boarding home for much of that time. The house was donated to the Cultural Heritage Foundation by Bessie Hale’s heir in 1970 and it was moved to its current location.
I have to say I am fairly proud of this image, I think it demonstrates that I have made some more progress practicing my HDR techniques. I started by mounting the Nikon D7000 on a tripod with the 18-135mm lens and with my Promote Control interfaced to the camera. I had Judy hold up a gray card in front of the house for one shot. I fired off a few sets of seven brackets (-3 EV to +3 EV) with slightly varying perspectives on the house and converted the camera raw files to DNG in Lightroom. Initially in the Lightroom Develop module I used the automatic color correction tool to key on the gray card and set the proper color setting on all the files, and I also used the automatic lens correction tool to correct any distortion. I exported the selected seven brackets to Nik’s HDR Efex Pro and applied one of the Realistic pre-sets which I then tweaked, then I converted to TIFF and sent the image file back to Lightroom. I then opened the HDR TIFF file and the middle bracket (-0-) DNG file in Photoshop. I then used layer masking to overlay the top of the chimney and the sky from the middle bracket to correct the top of the chimney which was blown out in the HDR and to replace a halo-ed sky with a clean sky. I also used content aware fill in Photoshop to remove a water faucet, garden hose, and some scattered cinder blocks from the lawn in front of the house. Back in Lightroom I made a slight crop to remove some of the gravel foreground, sharpened and applied minimal noise filtering.
This old boxcar is resting on the western edge of Heritage Square, hard by the Pasadena Freeway (the nation’s first freeway) in Los Angeles. As an example of great minds thinking alike I captured this image at about the same time that Van Sutherland captured a similar image, two time zones away. Van titled his image “Character” and you will find it on his blog Exile Imaging. Van’s version is more realistic than my interpretation, my excuse is that he had a better weathered subject than I did, covered with some great peeling paint, so I had to rely more upon slight of hand to make my surfaces more interesting.
A little change up this week from street life to a emphasis on color. This tree stands on Wheeler Avenue in La Verne, California, backed up by the San Gabriel Mountains. The image was captured in the late afternoon at 5:46 P.M. on May 21. I really like how the sun plays on the mountains during this time of day, the mountains are oriented on an east-west axis, and when the sun is getting low the light really delineates the contours of the south facing slopes. This always fascinates me as we parallel the face of the mountains when we drive along I-210 during this time of day.
After conversion from NEF to DNG in Lightroom, I tone mapped in Nik’s HDR Effects Pro working off of a preset furnished by Jason P. O’Dell, selectively dodging in, upping the contrast and structure in various areas of the tree using control points, slightly darkening the foliage to the left and right of the tree; using Nik Color Efex Pro, applied the Kodak Ultra Color 400UC film effect. In Photoshop I removed a distracting palm tree, light standard and electrical utility box that stood adjacent to the tree and attempted to mitigate the slight halo-ing effect by color masking in layers, but to no avail. Back in Lightroom I sharpened and did a little noise reduction, and exported the TIFF file that was created by HDR Efex Pro to a JPG file.
The tree with its branches bare of leaves during its season of dormancy presides over Waring Park in Piru, California, hard by the usually dry Santa Clara River bed. I am surmising that the dark clumps of vegetation among the branches are nests for some of the local critters, but we did not see any while on the scene. Whether avians or small mammals or marsupials, the creatures that made their homes up in the branches did so to stay safe from predators who might be roaming the neighborhood.
We were in the area to photograph an old railroad trestle, and I did capture those brackets before I set my sights on this tree. I actually think the tree was the better overall image. After the initial HDR processing and merging of the brackets with Nik HDR Efex Pro I processed the final image with Nik Silver Efex Pro, and did a little dodging with the adjustment brush in Lightroom. I have pre-ordered a copy of Silver Efex Pro 2 and am waiting to get my hands on that, which appears to be even more robust than Silver Exfex Pro 1.
Although it looks like a storm is brewing in this image, those are actually the last vestiges of a storm that blew in the previous few days from the Pacific and headed east over Southern California. The view of the Pasadena City Hall is from the southwest corner of Holly Street and Garfield Avenue, the Jackie Robinson memorial was directly behind me.
Behind the shrubs in the front of the building is a subterranean walkway (open to the sky, below the first floor windows) that circles the entire building perimeter (running under the front steps). As we were capturing these images I was accosted by one of the local homeless people, noticing the camera on the tripod she wanted to know if we were with the news media. I told her “no, I just enjoy taking pictures”. Shen then informed me about the “moat” around city hall, going on to say the city filled it with water and stocked it with piranhas. (The reality is that the “moat” is the walkway in front of the basement level windows of the building, which allows natural light to come through to the basement.) I thanked her, she continued on her way and I continued with my photography.
I have been thinking about the subjects of my photography recently and realize that I am attracted to images of objects or scenes created by the hand of Mother Nature and by the hand of man. Judy and I have made a conscious decision to capture scenery, including lots of trees, in the natural world, we are also both attracted to motor vehicles and I have an interest in aircraft and architecture. In a more documentary and historical preservation sense my eye is attracted to images or scenes that depict humans experiencing life, interacting in their contemporary environment, and scenes (with or without living subjects) depicting contemporary life and life in an earlier time. This is what you can expect to see unfolding in this blog, and hopefully, it will all be telling an interesting story.
This was my first image created with the assistance of my Promote Control, which calculated and instructed the camera to fire off five brackets at f/11 from .6 second to 1/400 second. Utilizing this new tool has been a learning experience and it took me a while to figure out that I had to slow down the Promote Control to 2,000 milliseconds in order to not overwhelm the D80 .
You should never hesitate to return to an old image and re-work it. This image was originally created in September of last year when I was first experimenting with HDR techniques. Looking back at the original rendition of the image I can say in all honesty, it was fairly crude and cartoonish as you can see in this thumbnail. I did not hesitate to post the image back then because I consider this blog a manifestation of my growth and development as a photographer, and was just excited to share my journey of discovery of HDR technique. So it is with some pride and a sense of redemption that I am posting the revised image today. Isn’t this what life is all about, living and learning, every day.
As far as what I did when I reprocessed the image:
- HDR processed and tone mapped in Nik HDR Efex Pro instead of Photomatix. I used one of either the Architectural or Landscape filters in HDR Efex Pro (I did not write down which on) and then tweaked the individual control settings.
- Used the Nik Control Point technology to darken, increase contrast and further saturate the top of the building wall in the top right quarter of the image, I feel this gave the building more of a three dimensional effect, and redirected the radiation of the sun from the top right to the bottom left.
- Set a control point over the lower left section of the man and the flower bed and increased the exposure, contrast and saturation, to bring more emphasis on the human figure and also redirect the source of the sun’s rays.
- Used Lightroom to adjust for lens distortion and perform sharpening.
- It should go without saying, that this processing began using the original, raw image files.
I had a blast re-creating this.
In addition to aircraft in varying states of repair, the Planes of Fame museum collection at the Chino Airport, Chino, California includes various mechanized vehicles of the ground hugging kind. Walter The Warthog appears to be an M3 /M5 (Stuart) Light Tank, on his starboard side is a verified M4 (Sherman) Tank that is still fully functional. The M3 was manufactured in the United States and used two Cadillac radial motors, it’s main gun was a 37mm cannon and it also had five Browning .30-06 machine guns. The Stuart tank was first used by the British in World War II and they nicknamed it “Stuart” after the U.S. Confederate General J.E.B. Stewart. The M3 was the first tank used by United States forces in World War II in tank to tank warfare. 22,743 of these tanks were produced by the United States.
A medium tank, the M4 (Sherman), so nicknamed by the British after Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, was the primary tank deployed by the United States during World War II, and was also distributed by the United States to its allies, the British and Russians. The M4 was equipped with a 75mm cannon as its main gun and the tank crew was able to fire this gun with reasonable accuracy while the tank was moving. 58,000 of these tanks were ultimately deployed.
I got more practice using my exposure correcting, color correcting and tone mapping skills with the Control Points in the Nik tool kit and in the case of this image also tested the effect of using a sharpening tool on the original raw images and then a sharpening tool on the final images prior to .JPG conversion from .TIF. Sharpness is one of my obsessions.