Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The sun setting on the water of a harbor in Rhode Island. Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ground Zero at dusk

Looking from Jersey City, ground zero is just a bit behind the glass building structure and the two flanking buildings. Shot in HDR; 5 shots, I believe, combined and downsampled with Photoshop CS2. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


A biker in Times Square. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


A cute kid playing on a sculpture near Trinity Church in Manhattan. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


A couple of Maya from around 4 years ago. :) Click to enlarge.

Reviewing her work

A young woman chimps with her digital camera. Candid shot; click to enlarge.


A sailor waits on his docked ship in Rhode Island. Candid shot; click to enarlge.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Candid of a cameraman at MTV. Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Alcatraz at sunset. Shot from the Coit tower 4 or so years ago. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


A security agent for Governor Pataki in NYC. Click to enlarge.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Huge Tracts of Land

A candid of a woman looking out from the MTV studios in New York. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

United Nations

Today's photo is a candid of a lady on a tourbus at a stoplight in Times Square. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sammy J!

Another candid shot of Samuel Jackson from NYC. I like the other one more, but he seems kinda pondrous in this one. :) Click to enlarge.

Another shot of the capitol ceiling

This is a different chandelier -- this one hangs in the main rotunda. This is also HDR; 5 shots in 2 shot bracket increments shot at 10mm. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nebraska Capitol Chandelier

I was doing some experiments today in the Nebraska State Capitol. Dunno how they'll turn out yet -- but while I was there I shot a few HDRs. This is looking up at the entrance chandelier. The tour guide came over and told me that the darn thing weighs 3,500 pounds. Made me want to finish shooting it quicker, I'll tell ya that! :) Click to enlarge.

By the way -- if you ever wanted to see a good example of the difference between HDR downsampling and normal photography (or, as some do, trying to make "HDRs" out of single RAW files/JPEGS), here's a good example of what's possible with HDR downsampling... you can actually see the freakin' filaments in the freakin' lightbulbs! :) 100% crop detail below:

Lower Manhattan in HDR

A quick shot of lower Manhattan at sunset in HDR. Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Another of Raven from the shoot the other day. :) Click to enlarge.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I had the honor of taking Raven's senior pics yesterday. One of the shooting spots, a piano recital room, turned out to be way too cramped for photography, so I went for a few fun shots instead. I tend to get goofy when I know it doesn't count any more. :) Click to enlarge.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


On my way home tonight from shooting someone's senior pictures in Kearney, I noticed this old house sitting on the road. Perfect candidate for HDR. :) Click to enlarge.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Where the Twin Towers used to be

HDR shot at sunset. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cloudy Glass

Today's shot is from downtown Manhattan -- there's definitely some really rockin' architecture down there! Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How to Create Professional HDR Images

Sweet sassy-mollassy, I've been Dugg!

Hi, Adobe!

Note: clicking any image below makes it larger in a new window.

If you visit here regularly, you've probably noticed that I post a lot of High Dynamic Range, or HDR, stuff these days. Even if you don't, you've likely seen HDR photos all around the net as photographers both pro and hobbyist experiment with this emerging artistic format. Personally, I was pointed to it earlier this year by a fellow photographer & friend, Darren, and I've been having a ton of fun with it since.

However, I've noticed as I look around that most of the other photographers out there who work with HDR are creating images that, while often extremely interesting, look absoloutely nothing at all like the scene they were shooting -- and even if they do get it close, they end up with photos that have an enormous amount of HDR processing artifacts, such as halos. The reason for this is a popular program known as Photomatix. Photomatix is actually a very competent HDR assembler, but it's tone mapping functions tend to look a bit on the silly side. At least in my opinion.

I've come to believe that there are few things in the digital photography world that Photoshop can't do better than most other programs. HDR turns out to be one of them. Photoshop CS2 has a little-known (it seems) built-in HDR assembler that, while lacking the "make my photo look like a bucket of saturated paints gone awry" tone-mapping features of Photomatix, is capable of creating extremely realistic or extremely surreal HDR images.

I've been using Photoshop CS2 for most of my HDR images, and lots of people have been asking me what I do and how I do it. Wonder no more! It's actually pretty easy. Let's get started. :)

What you need:

1. A digital camera that allows you to set exposure manually.

2. A sturdy tripod.

3. A subject (i.e., what you're taking the picture of) that does not move.

4. A computer with Photoshop CS2 installed.

If you have a camera that supports it, it also helps to have a "cable release", which is basically a little shutter button that attaches to your camera via a wire, so when you push the button to take the picture, you don't nudge the camera at all.

First off, you need to take the photographs. Because you are attempting to create a high-dynamic-range image, it makes a very good deal of sense for you to set your camera so that it shoots your photographs in your camera's RAW mode. The reason for this is that the RAW format captures more dynamic range data than is available in the alternative, the JPEG file. It also gives you a great deal of color temperature latitude -- you can set the color temperature of all of your photos very easily after the fact. You also need to set the camera to manual exposure mode. Tripod your camera so that it doesn't move, then compose the scene you want to shoot. Note that, like long-exposure photography, HDR works best when your subject isn't moving. Also, if your camera has a changeable ISO setting (most do), set it as low as possible to avoid noise. Meter your scene. Select the aperature you wish. The object here is to bracket your photos (i.e., take a photo of the same scene several times with different shutter speeds), either automatically or manually. Some high-end cameras bracket automatically, some don't. It's important that you change the shutter speed, NOT the aperature -- the reason being that since you will be combining several images to make one, you don't want your DOF to change between shots. Once you have your scene set, your camera set and tripoded, and your settings set -- take your pictures. I personally usually like to take quite a few photos over the range -- for example, I'll take photos at -6EV, -4EV, -2EV, metered EV, +2EV, +4EV, and +6EV. That may seem like a bit much, but going overboard doesn't hurt anything and gives you more latitude in toning. However, you can get by with less, as I have in the below example:

Okay, so you have your three (or more) photos! Transfer them from your camera onto your computer. Done? Done. Now, how do you take those three photos and create a new, magical HDR image? Simple.

First, find your three photos either using Windows explorer or the Adobe Bridge program that comes with CS2.

Highlight them, and open them with Photoshop at the same time by dragging them into Photoshop.

Okay, you've got it open. The important things to do here are to

A: make sure that all three photos are the same color temperture and tint

B: make sure that you turn off ALL the automatic checkboxes.

You can pick any color temperature you think looks like what you saw -- the important thing is that they're all the same. Done? Now click "Done". By clicking done, you are telling Photoshop to remember these settings -- which is important, because in a moment you're going to have Photoshop automatically open all of these photos up again.

Okay, now to make the HDR. Go into the File menu, then the Automate submenu, then select "Merge to HDR":

In the dialog box the pops up, select the files you want to use to make the HDR. Do not check the "Align automatically" box, unless you screwed up your tripoding and moved the camera between photos. The automatic alignment feature doesn't usually work so great, so it's really a last resort.

You will end up with a preview window that shows you a preview of your HDR that looks like this:

Just click okay -- you don't need to adjust the histogram up there at all, all that effects is the preview, it has no effect on the final image. (*edit*, okay, it DOES affect the baseline for the curves in the next step but for all practical purposes it doesn't matter for what we're trying to do. Thanks to Adobe for pointing this out to me.) After a loooong while (or a short while if you have a fast computer and a lot of RAM), it'll finish and show you your new HDR image. Cool! You can save this file if you want; it's a 32 bit image file that contains all the exposure data from all of your shots. Doesn't look like much, but that's because you don't have an HDR monitor. One day, HDR monitors will be commonplace -- so keep that file handy. :)

But wait, we're not done yet! We want the photo to look good on our monitor. How do we do that? Easy, we downsample. Go to the Image menu, the mode submenu, and select "16 bits per channel".

You end up with a new menu. Toggle the Histogram arrow at the bottom to show the histogram. Go into the little menu at to and select "Local Adaptation":

Click OK. Whoa! Crazy, huh? Doesn't look so great, most likely. This is just the preview window, though, showing you what it will probably look like when Photoshop is done converting it. The first thing you need to do is bring the left hand side of the histogram to the beginning of the shadows information, as shown below:

Okay, cool! Looks better. Now work the curves until you're happy. If you don't know how to use curves in Photoshop, wikipedia or a search engine is your friend. :) Here's what I did to this one:

When you're done, click okay. After a little while, viola! You get a nice 16 bit image. Tone this to your taste using whatever toning tools you know. Save it as a 16bit TIFF file, if you like. However, when you're done, you need to downconvert it to 8-bit in order to save it as a JPEG. Go to the Image menu, the mode submenu, and select "8 bits per channel".

Viola^H^H^H^H^H Voila, the finished product has arrived!

Save it as a Jpeg and you're done. See, not too hard -- and it's a great new world of photography to explore.

BTW, in the near future I'm going to post a tutorial about just what I meant by "use your own toning skills". Digitally toning (i.e. color correcting) a photograph is quite a process, but most of the interesting stuff about it is easy to digest and learn, and can often be done quickly once you're practiced.

Empire State Building sunrise in HDR

It just occured to me that I still have a ton of NYC skyline shots in HDR that I haven't posted yet -- here's one of 'em. :) Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Manhattan Church

A very old church in Manhattan in HDR. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


As seen from the top of the Empire State building. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Instant feedback

A man shows his friend what he just shot near Ground Zero in New York City. Click to enlarge.

NYC skyline

Missed the past couple days, so I'll do a triple-post. The first is a NYC skyline shot that inclues the Empire State building. Click to enlarge. :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The rest of Elsa

Some other fun shots from yesterday (click to enlarge):

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Elsa's back in town from Korea for a week -- so of course she got to be my model for a little while. :) Click to enlarge.

Make Every Computer

Candid of a woman in Times Square. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


One of the women helping to run the sailboat we took in Rhode Island. Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Lincoln at evening

The rest of the Lincoln shots from the other day. :) Click to enlarge.

Fire alarm in an alleyway.

Man standing outside Barrymores in the alley.

Some buildings at sunset. Gotta love the golden hour!

Capitol Building at sunset.

Some really cool old apartment buildings at sunset.

And, of course, nothing beats a good Nebraska sunset! All of these are looking west (obviously) towards Denver -- which explains the bazillion jet contrails that make the sky look so awesome.