Cape Canaveral, Florida – Space…The Final Frontier in HDR

Yesterday’s post was the NASA’s Saturn V Booster Rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL (larger version posted below…your guesses were on it!!!).  When you visit the Kennedy Space Center you can tour the facility and see lots of great sights!  In the Apollo/Saturn V Center there are the actual rockets used in many of the Apollo/Saturn missions.  Such a grand place and ready for multiple HDR’s!   As you look up it is very surreal to think of the history of these amazing feats of human engineering….where they have been and what they accomplished.    During your tour in the Apollo/Saturn V Center there is a cute little cafe inside called Moonrock!   Great to grab a bite to eat and continue on your tour…or just eat your hot dog and stare upwards in amazement!

Its a fun day when visiting at the center…this day we even saw a few alligators hanging out in the sun and two armadillo’s walking the grounds (cute little critters).  I’ll post additional shots soon and give more scoops on KSC!  Only 4 more shuttle launches left…so visit soon if you can!!   I am lucky enough to have seen about 6-7 launches in my time.  All from various locations in Florida.  Fantastic each time!!  I can remember reading you can have one of the shuttles for a cheap price of $28 Million!!!   Imagine parking that in your driveway!   Hmmm, what should I drive today…the Buick or the Discovery?  LOL

For the shot above (Saturn V S-II) I post processed the HDR and thought it was solid, but then played around with textures.  I had this one texture that was purple outer space.  As soon as I added it on…wow!   Perfect combo!!!   If anyone wants this texture from me…just shoot me an email or post below.  Glad to send it!

Talke Photography Settings: (for the above photo)

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 15.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/8
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza, 1 Texture (purple)

Here is the large version of the Saturn V base in HDR.   For yesterday’s photo, I had to position myself right under the rockets and shoot straight upwards.  As I lined it up…all I could think was…sweet!!  LOL  :

Guess the HDR photo???

I took this close up shot last week.   Take a guess at what this is a photo of…if you would like!  Note your guess in the comments below!   I’ll post the full view version tomorrow.  I’ll give ya hint…I had to look straight up to get this shot!!!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 12.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/8
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza

News: Giveaway!!! (New York NY Hotel Mousepad)

(Repost…just a few days remaining to enter!) Places 2 Explore will be turning 1 years old on March 2, 2010!  Amazing how fast a year can go by!  So I’d like to offer a free giveaway!!!   A mousepad of the New York NY Hotel in Las Vegas (HDR) – pictured to the left – to give out for free!!    Just like the calendar in December, just add a comment “yes” in the comment section below or on the Talke Photography Facebook Page.  You will be entered and the one winner will be picked from a hat on March 1st and announced on the 1 year anniversary!  Thanks for reading one of the world’s fastest growing travel blogs…Places 2 Explore!

Pflugerville, TX – Centerra Homes in HDR

HDR for use for commercial purposes??  Yes indeed!  Our good friend Tommy Grant runs a wonderful home building business here in central Texas called Centerra Homes.   If you are looking for a new home in the Austin area….stop on by the website and check out the details!    Some info from the site:  Centerra Homes is a premier homebuilding company founded in Austin, Texas. With over forty years of combined home building experience, we are committed to building relationships, one customer and one home at a time. Our mission is to build each and every home as if we are building it for our own family.

Last week a new model was completed and ready to go and Tommy asked me to photograph it for their website. I was eager to give commercial photography a shot!  I spent the morning taking lots of photos.  Beforehand I told Tommy that I would shoot both standard and HDR. We then could compare them and see what version looks better.  I returned home in the afternoon and processed the pictures.  The HDR’s looked fantastic!!!  Above is the family room using a wide angle lens.   I used a wide angle (Nikon 12-24 f/4) for the whole shoot along with a tripod and cable release….5 exposures on each shot.

I gave Tommy all the photos and suggested that maybe consider using the HDR’s for his website….except the kitchen which had wood grain cabinets and a wood floor….a bit too much texture going on!   I can assume the amount of HDRs used for commercial photographs is a very very small percentage.  Why?  Because most HDR photographers are all shooting landscape shots!   LOL     I’d give a thumbs up for commercial use of HDR’s!  Here is another…

The HDR creates a nice warm feeling to each photo.  The standard versions were solid, but I am happy he chose to use the HDR’s on his website.   Here is the link to all the photos. Centerra Homes – Falcon Pointe Thanks Tommy for thinking outside the box!  One last shot…

I know the NY Times was thinking about using HDR’s in their newspaper….soon HDR’ing will become a normal way of photography.  It is the fastest growing photographic style in the world today.   Enjoy the photos!   Good luck Centerra Homes!   Sell lots of houses!!

Photo Fun: Water Drops

As I consider myself a landscape photographer…I always enjoy seeing the photos the people post on Flickr of marco shots where you have to look closely and figure out where and how it was done.   Photography offers never ending options and styles.  I hope one day to get to em all!  Macro work has always been a favorite of mine.   The small details become large and very interesting.   I will try this spring to go out an work on macro shots with wonderful wildflowers we have in Texas.   But why wait until the spring…macros shots are all over your house.  I bet if you gave yourself a photo assignment of shooting household items in macro…you will come up with some cool photos!

One shot I always wanted to try was putting water drops on the back of a CD. Simple and easy to do…just lay a CD down, fill a cup with water, use a straw to create the water drops and a spray bottle to create smaller droplets…add in sun from a window and this is what you get using a macro lens.  Try a few angles..crop if needed and a cool shot appears!   The drops create a nice prismatic effect.  Go out and have fun with your camera.  There is a wonderful world out there to explore!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 105 Macro VR f/2.8
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 105.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:   1/8 second
  • Aperture:  f/20
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4

Austin, Texas – Hamilton Pool (HDR)

Hamilton Pool in Austin, TX is a great location for HDR’ing!   The rocks, trees, pool and the waterfall work well with the shadows and highlights.   We were here a few weeks ago and the 2 days before we had heavy rain…this led to the waterfall flowing quite nicely!!!  As it is now almost spring…I’d like to try this shot next year when ice forms on the walls of the cavern and hang downward!   I bet it would be wonderful!    When summer arrives this pool will be filed with people swimming!  Maybe I will try it this year?   Cannonball!!!  Have fun!  Don’t forget f/22 for water motion in HDR’s!  =)

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 19.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza

San Francisco, CA – Transamerica Building

For those people that enjoy abstract art…here is my take on the Transamerica Building.  This was taken at the base looking straight up!  I enjoyed seeing the criss cross girders and thought it might look like a fun shot.  Add a little HDR and Topaz Adjust to give it a extra texture effect and this is the end result.   I am not one to take abstract type of photos, but every once in a while it is nice to mix it up!    This is one tough building to photograph up close.  I think it is due to the steep angle of the building sides.  At least I got one picture up close out of the 5 or so I took.  I wonder how Horace did?  (he was shooting with me as well)

Here is some info from the web: The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest and most recognizable skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline.  Built on the location of the historic Montgomery Block, it has a structural height of 260 m (850 ft) and contains 48 floors of retail and office space. Construction began in 1969 and finished in 1972. Transamerica moved their headquarters to the new building from across the street, where they used to be based in another flatiron-shaped building now occupied by the Church of Scientology of San Francisco.

Although the tower no longer serves as the Transamerica Corporation headquarters, it is still strongly associated with the company and is depicted in the company’s logo. The building is evocative of San Francisco and has become one of the many symbols of the city. Designed by architect William Pereira, it faced considerable opposition during its planning and construction, and was sometimes referred to by detractors as “Pereira’s Prick”.  The Transamerica Pyramid was the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi from 1972 to 1974 surpassing the then Bank of America Center. It was then later surpassed by the Aon Center in Los Angeles.  In 1999, Transamerica was acquired by Dutch insurance company AEGON. When the non-insurance operations of Transamerica were later sold to GE Capital, AEGON retained the building as an investment.

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 12.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/11
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza, Topaz Adjust

Orlando, Florida – When You Wish Upon an HDR!

If you are in Orlando how can you not visit Disney World??  I was in for the Daytona 500 and had a free night.  My goal was to photograph fireworks during the Dreams show at the Magic Kingdom.   I had never photographed fireworks…so I set up camp early in the perfect spot waiting for darkness.  The sunset had just passed (although it was not too sunny) and the blue hour arrived!   I timed my shots as Cinderella’s Castle turned  different colors.    I got off about 4-6 shots of the castle in various colors before it became too dark.    Here is a shot with the castle pink.  I added a little star trail to give it that Disney effect.  Easy to do…its in your brush pallette if you use Adobe Photoshop.  I just did a few sizes.    Not bad to start the night!    Then I awaited the fireworks show…..pics coming soon!!!!

Here is some info from the web:  Cinderella Castle is the iconic fairy-tale fortress that serves as the gateway to Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom theme park. It is not only one of the central icons of Walt Disney World Resort, but its romantic beauty has also come to represent all of the Walt Disney Company. The castle is located in the heart of Magic Kingdom theme park—just above the central hub of the Park. Many Guests catch their first glimpse of the castle from Main Street, U.S.A. When you first see the soaring spires, ornate turrets and shimmering moat, you know you’ve left the world of today and entered a magical new land full of fun and fantasy.

While it may be initially startling to see a medieval castle rising 190 feet into the sky at the end of a street right out of classic small-town America, the dream-like magic of the contrasting images captures the promise of the enchanted adventures awaiting you. Step inside Cinderella Castle, and it’s like you’re walking into a fairy tale come true. The castle is as beautiful inside as it is on the outside. Inspect an amazingly detailed mosaic mural—including tiles made of real 14-karat gold—and enjoy vignettes from the 1950 Disney animated classic, Cinderella. The mural contains one million pieces of glass in approximately 500 different colors.

Have a magical day!!!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • amera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 22.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza

Daytona, Florida – Daytona 500

I just returned from a trip to Florida.  You know its a tough winter everywhere when even in February..Florida is cold!  This past Sunday the 14th was the Daytona 500….NASCAR’s first race os the season and the biggest race of the year.  I have posted before I am a casual fan, but there is no sporting event that I have ever attended that can top this race!!!  200,000 people…tough to beat!  I have been to this race I think 4 of the last 6 years?  No matter how many times I attend…I truly love it!

Its a full day indeed.  I went this year with my father-in-law George (his first time!) and we arrived at Daytona around 6:15 AM.  Had breakfast and walked to the track at around 8 AM for some shopping!  We shopped for an hour and had passes for the Fan Zone.   For the Fan Zone you get to walk around the stages near pit row and listen to drivers speak, music playing, eat food, watch car inspections, walk through pit row and onto the field.  The big draw is to walk on the track and sign the starting line and walls before the race.   As the cars are brought out….you cant get right next to pit row, behind a rope.  Only a few feet from the starting lineup!   After the cars are inspected they are rolled out one by one.  So I stood and took pics of each car coming out for about 2 hours.  My father-in-law was a trooper and stood next to me the whole time.  I had my big lens – Nikon 70-200 VR on a monopod and snapped away!

The pic above is from the lineup which includes Tony Stewart’s car….race ready.   If the crowds are not too heavy around the cars, close up shots are possible.  I saw Dale Jr’s car rolled out and could barley get close!  So we hit the stands for the race at about 12:30 and grabbed some lunch and our seats.

As our seats were first row right by the fence you see in the pic above…I wanted to grab a shot from above as the race started.  I walked up the aisle and took the shot above (turn 4) as lap 1 was just about to start!   Mark Martin is in the lead and Dale Jr. is is in second!  The shot above is at 200mm focal length.    I took a few more shots throughout the race and they were just ok.   This was the biggest lens I have ever taken to a race and made some conclusions about shooting races.  1) Use a bigger lens  2) Get pit passes  3) Practice beforehand if possible

Any fan that wants great shots like you see in Sports Illustrated…from the stands..its impossible.  I can assume a 400mm or 600mm lens is necessary to get those cool shots.  Added to that your photo location has to be from the pits.  How to get there…hmmm…maybe you have to be a professional.  So lesson learned as I tried to push my photography limits this day.  If anyone is a race fan and knows how to get such a photo pass…please let me know!   I’ll get into the race details in a future post next week.  A fun day and I can’t wait to get back again.  As I have a long post..I’ll skip the photo settings for the day.  Have fun and let the race begin!

San Francisco, CA – Neiman Marcus Rotunda (HDR)

Before I visit any location…I make sure to form a list of sights to see and search all avenues for ideas.  I use books I have, Google Images and Flickr.  I searched San Francisco on Flickr and saw a shot from the Neiman Marcus Store downtown.  When Horace Kwan and I started our photo opp day, we hit this sport first.  I figured the rotunda would be great using a fisheye!   Any circular shape in fisheye looks wonderful.  It captures the feeling of the effect just right.   Just a floor above is a restaurant and if I can recall we were in the women’s clothing section.  We set up while people were shopping and grabbed a few shots!   I must admit sometimes you feel like a dork carrying your tripod around taking photos…and in a department store…that makes us super dorks!  LOL   But after it is all said and done…and your pic is finished…its all worth it!   Just goes to show you…photographers will take pics anywhere!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 10.5 Fisheye f/2.8
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 10.5.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza