Lake Mead HDR

Lake Mead HDR

I am in Las Vegas for a conference, so I took a trip to the Hoover Dam for the official tour. Did you know that the lake is at it’s lowest point since 1936? It stands at 38% of capacity right now.

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French Quarter, New Orleans in HDR

French Quarter

Jennifer and I stayed in New Orleans the night we flew back from our trip. This shot is of the French Quarter, at sunset, from the 30th floor (roof) of the Westin hotel by the Mississippi River. This is an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image, and came out pretty good. I have a lot more images to process from this trip, and the best will be put on display here of course.

If you are interested in seeing more HDR images (of particularly high quality I might add), you should visit HDR Spotting.

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Golden Gate HDR

Yes, I know, you have seen the picture above more times than you can shake a stick at of late. Or have you? Look closely? It is the same subject, location, and it was shot at the same time. But it is different in a slight way. This is the last remix I am doing of what I think is my best photo. So what is different?

Following the advice from the Stuck in Customs HDR Tutorial, I did a one shot tonemapping version in Photomatix. That’s a lot of words to say I did a one image HDR treatment, on what was already a black and white image. From there I used Noiseware to reduce the noise in the image, and voilà, you get the image above. The differences are subtle, but I welcome you to look at the original and then it will make sense. I think the new remix makes the image even more dramatic than it was before. What do you think?

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A Piece of History

Durango and Silverton Steam Locomotive #482

Watching the newest episode of Top Gear on BBC America the other night, I was inspired to revisit my images of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that I shot back in August of 2009. There was one 5 shot sequence where my intention was to make an HDR. I actually made it, but then I saw some ghosting from people moving, so I shelved it until I had time to work it out. Well, I went back in, and tried a different option for ghost handling in the latest Photomatix. The result is the image you see above. Well, kind of. After I got the HDR, I brought it back into Adobe Lightroom and applied some of the Kubota Lightroom Actions to the image. The result is an image that feels shot in the period, but has the benefits of HDR.

Available for sale in my online gallery, this is the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad engine #482. It is a Baldwin 282 steam locomotive, manufactured in 1925 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Having served on the Denver & Rio Grande Western from 1925 to 1962, it was then sold to the Cu,bres & Toltec Scenic Railway in 1970. I have not been able to locate information detailing when it was sold to the DSNRR.

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Golden Gate in HDR, as show by Chester Bullock

This HDR image came out far better than I expected it to in the wind and water vapor surrounding me. It has been chosen as an editor’s pick at, and HDR afficionado website. And now you can hang it on the wall of your home or office by placing an order from my online gallery. White space has been added to the gallery version, allowing proper cropping for standard prints and frames.

Also, if you like my work, consider becoming a fan of my Facebook page. On January 31, I will select one fan at random to receive a $50 gift certificate to my online gallery (for a print purchase only, not for session fees).

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Torrey's Reflection - Tonemapped

For as long as HDR has been a processing option, there has been debate about whether or not a single tonemapped image constitutes and HDR image. Classic thinking would say no. However, Photomatix is capable of taking a RAW image and doing the tonemapping actions that come with HDR processing. In fact, the guy who is now producing the best HDR books, Trey Ratcliff, encourages you to try the technique. So I did, and you see the result above.

I personally am happy with it. Some photographers like heavily tonemapped HDR, some don’t. For me it depends on the image. More importantly though, the image consuming public likes it, and wants more of it. To that end, I guess I will do my part and keep contributing.

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HDR – I Still Love It

HDR image of a gondola car taken near South Fork, Colorado with an Olympus E-510

I started shooting High Dynamic Range (commonly known as HDR) images roughly 2 years ago. I don’t shoot many (26 in my flickr gallery), but I enjoy shooting them. The gondola rail car in the photo above is the best one I have shot I think. Shooting HDR takes patience, at least with older dSLR’s like my Olympus E-510. Newer camera models, mainly ones that have arrived in the last 6-12 months, might have enough exposure bracketing built in to them to accomplish HDR captures with one click of the shutter release. Still others might have had a firmware update to accomplish this. It is my biggest hope that whatever Olympus brings out to replace the E-3 will have this feature.

I could write a tutorial on taking HDR images, but really, it would pale in comparison to the master, so I’ll let you have a look at Trey Ratcliff’s HDR Tutorial instead. I would also encourage you to check out his new book – “A World in HDR“.

After the captures, you need software. I have been using Photomatix HDR since I started doing HDR images, and highly recommend it. Trey does too, and he has even worked out a 15% discount with Photomatix (follow the link to see how to get it). Once again, Trey tells us the best way to use the software. For me personally, I usually play with a couple different settings in Photomatix to get the photo looking just the way I want to. For the gondola above, I think there were 4 versions, this one being the best (in my eyes). I would encourage you to experiment as well, and get the look that pleases you the most.

If you are looking for inspiration in other people’s HDR work, or if you have your own portfolio of images to show people, you need to take a look at This collection of images is extraordinary, and I hope I produce something worthy of inclusion. To become a contributor, you need to obtain an invitation code. While it is not clear to me how people get codes to give away, if you watch #hdrspotting on Twitter or ask around in the HDR group on Facebook, you should see a code pop up. I will post them to my Twitter feed if they ever come my way.

If you are a flickr user, you should look into the HDR and Photomatix groups. Great pictures and discussions happen in both.

Get out and try your hand at HDR, and put links to your pictures in the comments below. I love seeing what other people do with this new type of imagery.

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Another picture of our lights

HDR Lights
After I took a picture of our holiday lights a couple of weeks ago, the snow melted, and we added a few more lights. Tuesday night it started to snow, so Wednesday morning I went out and took some pics, then combined them into an HDR. Didn’t come out to bad at all.

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