Category Archives: HDR

To HDR or Not HDR…

As many of you know, I’ve really gotten the HDR bug.  But there are times when I wonder if I’ve overcooked an image.  Today was one of those times.  Here’s what I’m talking about.

Silver Lake, HDR

Above – HDR image of Silver Lake, taken with my Sony NEX3, processed in Photomatix and Photoshop CS6.

After I finished processing the image above, I posted it on my Facebook page, and then to Google +.  The reception was ok.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell if people are just being polite or they really like what’s posted.  The reason I’m bringing this up is because I personally wasn’t thrilled with this shot.  It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it just seems a little too realistic.  Everything is sharp, contrasty, and vivid.  Doesn’t it seem strange that I think it could be better without the HDR effects?

Back to the drawing board!  Here’s the original image:

Silver Lake, original ooc image

Above – Original image, out of the camera except for resizing and watermark, from my Sony NEX3.

As you can see, the original image leaves a lot to be desired.  The lighting is flat and uninteresting.  There’s also not a lot of contrast or sharpness, but some of this is due to the way I have the camera set.  I typically use minimal in-camera enhancements, preferring to make the adjustments on the computer (my personal preference).

Just in case you’re wondering, the settings on my NEX3 are:

  • f/5.0
  • 1/30th second
  • ISO 250
  • Auto White Balance

Instead of running multiple images (with different exposures) through Photomatix for HDR processing, I brought the original image into Photoshop CS6 and adjusted the contrast, sharpness, color saturation, and gave it a subtle vignette.  Here’s the result:

Silver Lake, Non-HDR

Above – single image from Sony NEX3, processed in Photoshop CS6, non-HDR.

I really think the image above is better than the HDR version at the top of this post.  The differences are subtle, but enough to change the feeling I get when I look at it.  The non-HDR version seems to better reflect my memory of that warm, beautiful morning when I was out for one of my many walks along the lake’s shoreline (with my 2 Cairn Terriers of course).

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!

Traveling Light on the USS Iowa (Part-2)

This is the 2nd part of my visit to the USS Iowa.  The more I look back on the time I spent on this fantastic ship, I came to realize what an important role she played in history!

Doing a little research I found this on Wikipedia (click on the link to go there):

USS Iowa (BB-61) was the lead ship of her class of battleship and the fourth in the United States Navy to be named in honor of the 29th state. Owing to the cancellation of the Montana-class battleships, Iowa is the last lead ship of any class of United States battleships and was the only ship of her class to have served in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II.
During World War II, she carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt across the Atlantic to Casablanca en route to a crucial 1943 meeting in Tehran with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. She has a bathtub — an amenity installed for Roosevelt, along with an elevator to shuttle him between decks.[1] When transferred to the Pacific Fleet in 1944,Iowa shelled beachheads at Kwajalein and Eniwetok in advance of Allied amphibious landings and screened aircraft carriers operating in the Marshall Islands. She also served as the Third Fleet flagship, flying Adm. William F. Halsey’s flag at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. During the Korean War,Iowa was involved in raids on the North Korean coast, after which she was decommissioned into the United States Navy reserve fleets, better known as the “mothball fleet.” She was reactivated in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan and operated in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets to counter the recently expanded Soviet Navy. In April 1989, an explosion of undetermined origin wrecked her #2 gun turret, killing 47 sailors.
Iowa was decommissioned for the last time in 1990, and was initially stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in 1995. She was reinstated from 1999 to 2006 to comply with federal laws that required retention and maintenance of twoIowa-class battleships. In 2011 Iowa was donated to the Los Angeles-based non-profit Pacific Battleship Center and was permanently moved to Berth 87 at the Port of Los Angeles in the summer of 2012, where she was opened to the public to serve as a museum and memorial to battleships.
USS Iowa

There are a lot of other great sources of information on this ship online, just go to Google or your favorite search engine, type in USS Iowa and check it out!

Some of the highlights of my visit would include seeing the USS Iowa for the 1st time, as I started to cross over the Vincent Thomas Bridge.  And then there’s my first real full view of the ship as I pulled into the parking lot.  I’ve been on USS Midway in San Diego, and many years ago had the privilege to tour the USS Missouri.  I was no less impressed when I boarded the USS Iowa!  And standing next to those massive 16 inch gun turrets really made me feel small.

Speaking of small, I have to say the my camera choice (Olympus E-P3) for this little adventure worked out perfectly!  I took about 500 shots that day with a fair amount of keepers.  Granted I was shooting with HDR in mind, and had the camera set up for bracketing 3 exposures each time I pressed the shutter.  For those interested, I kept the camera in Aperture Priority mode, and have the bracketing set for the metered exposure and +1/-1.  The ISO was set for 200 when outdoors and in the bright sunshine, and for 400 when inside.  The only other thing I did was to change to the Art Filters and set it to black & white.  Another thing to note would be that all shots were taken with the camera hand-held.

That’s enough of that!  Here are some more photos from the USS Iowa!

USS Iowa, Harpoon Launchers

USS Iowa, Bow Lines

USS Iowa, 16 inch guns

USS Iowa, Bridge

USS Iowa, Galley

USS Iowa, Crews Mess

USS Iowa, Life Preserver

I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos of the USS Iowa.  It would be best if you planned a visit for yourself!  Here’s the link to the Pacific Battleship’s website where you can get all of the information you’ll need to plan your visit!

My final thoughts on this subject would be to take your time when you get on-board.  There are a lot of things to see; some obvious, some not so obvious.  You’ll need to look around and take it all in!  And don’t forget to bring your camera!

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!



So You Got A New Camera…Now What?

You got a fancy new camera for Christmas, great!  You’re ready to step up from your old Point & Shoot (P&S), right?  Maybe you’ve even taken pictures with your new rig, and the frustrating part is that the photos may not seem much better than what you were able to do with that little P&S.

All of those settings can seem intimidating at first.  Having an understanding of what they do can really improve your photography.  However, in the end, the camera is just a tool.  The real image is created by you, your vision, how you see the world.  That doesn’t mean that the camera is completely unimportant, it definitely has a role to play.  Learning how to use it properly allows you to focus on your image and gets the camera out of the way.

There’s all kinds of well meaning advice out there, including this post.  I’m not going to say that my way is the only way or the best.  It’s taken me many years of learning, trying, and making mistakes to get when I am.  And where I am is on the path of learning, trying, and making mistakes!  That’s one of the things I love about photography, there is so much to learn, and it never gets old, at least for me.

So where do you start?  Read the manual, take a class, trail and error, all of the above?  Yes, all of the above!  Here is my advice – take it with a grain of salt because your results may vary from mine:

RTFM (read the &%$#ing manual).  This is a good place to start.  Learn where everything is on your camera.  Make it second nature so that when you’re busy making that image, you aren’t fumbling with nobs and dials.

Take a class.  There are plenty of on-line courses that you can pay for, and a lot of free information too.  Years ago in my film camera days, I took a course with the New York Institute of Photography.  Click on the link and check it out.  It wasn’t cheap, but I got a lot out of it, and proudly display my diploma!

Another good website offering on-line courses is  I know some folks that have taken their courses, and watched as their photography went from snapshots to great-shots!

I mentioned free information and here are a couple of places for you to go for that:

B&H Photo/Video – The equipment Superstore!  They also have some great free information.  Click on this link and you’ll find a great article on “Getting the Most From Your New DSLR”.

Adorama – The next equipment Superstore (and where I get most of my stuff).  Adorama has a great learning center.  I’ve really enjoyed their video presentations on all subjects related to photography.  Click on this link to their “Beginner” series of information.

Here are a few things I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Keep it simple.  Determine not only what to include in your image, but what not to include.  Be sure to look up, back, and down.  Many photographers only photograph the obvious.
  • If you want your work to stand out from the crowd, don’t be afraid to try something different (low or high point of view, unique angle, etc…).
  • There are times when it’s ok to just have fun and take snapshots!
  • There are many forms of photography.  Find a couple that really interest you and learn all about them.  Examples – portraits, pets, black & white, landscapes, babies, HDR, and many more.  Once you find your niche, dig in and have fun!

My final piece of advice – don’t be afraid to push that shutter button!  You have to practice, and the wonderful thing about digital photography is there’s no extra cost for developing your photos.  Take your camera with you wherever you go, and take pictures.  Look them over, even the bad ones.  You can learn a lot from your mistakes.

I’ll leave you with this quote, “A true work of art is the creation of love, love for the subject first and for the medium second”.
~ Elliot Porter

Got questions?  Don’t be afraid to post them here and I’ll do my best to answer!

Until next time – Happy Shooting!