Taos, New Mexio – Marriott Hotel (HDR)

On our little getaway weekend in December…we visited Taos to go skiing. My first time ever to ski…I was excited and did well!!  We stayed 2 nights and decided to stay at the lovely El Monte Sagrado (Marriott) in downtown Taos.  What a beautiful place to stay!!    We had booked a standard room…which was excellent!  But as I walked around the hotel..I can see some people checking into their rooms…I gazed inside and was amazed!!!  If you have the extra cash..I saw some super cool rooms!!  I checked the site and they call them Casita’s.  Wow!  Decorated in Southwest style and designed perfectly!  There are only 84 rooms..so check online if visiting.

It had snowed the day before and we built some snowmen out in this courtyard.  The view above was taken the next day from the courtyard.  I loved the little stream traveling through the hotel grounds.  Gotta love hotels like this.  I don’t make hotel HDR’s often…but this Marriott was deserving!  I would surely stay here again anytime!   We caught a shuttle to the mountains for skiing and had a blast!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • amera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4.0
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 24.0 mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/11
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS5, HDR Efex Pro, Viveza, Photo Tools 2.6

HDR Tennis (on Facebook)

I belong to this wonderful Facebook Group called HDR Tennis.  If you are a photographer that dabbles in HDR…you are free to join anytime!   The project was started my my good friend Dave Wilson.  The process of HDR Tennis is that the winner of the last game (every 2-4 weeks) supplies brackets to the group for all members to process.  After you process your entry…you can email or post it to the HDR Tennis Facebook page wall.  Some members may offer feedback and your photo is entered into the voting process.

As we all know an HDR is very subjective and each photographer has their own process and methods.   This leads to entires that are so very different.  It is wonderful to see how people view each set of brackets!  This month is Game 6 and the brackets were supplied by the great photographer Bob Lussier.  Check out his site for some cool pics!!

One of Bob’s Brackets for Game 6 looked like this…

A fantastic set of brackets!  Thanks Bob!   I like to have fun with my posts on HDR Tennis.  I try to create to something different that will stand out.   I processed Bob’s brackets and loved the textures of his shot.  My version is posted on the top of this entry.  The steps I took next were…

1) NIK Viveza – lightened the photo and added some structure

2) NIK Color Efex Pro – add blur Vignette to the sides of the photo

3) NIK Shapren, then NIK DFine – to get rid of any noise

The photo looked cool at this stage.  I worked on the door and steps a bit more.  Then I thought why not mirror the photo at mid level?  See how it looks…ya never know!

4) Flood Plug-In – I brought it into Flood and created a clear mirror effect and played with the horizon level.  At the direct middle I noticed the alignment was sweet!!  Clicked ok and it was ready?  After it was done, I could see some cool lines and it needed on more step!   I then changed the orientation CCW, then CW…trying both ways.  I really liked the final version above.   There it is…my HDR Tennis Game 6 entry!   Hope you enjoy!  My fingers are crossed for a win in Game 6!   If not, I will be back for game 7!!  =)

Stop on by HDR Tennis and join…challenge your self and post your HDR creations of the supplied brackets.  Not only can you learn, but you can have fun!  We also have some of the top HDR artists around involved…hope to see your entry soon!  Check out some of member’s posts…

Dave Wilson’s Winning Post!!!

Scott Wyden’s Post

Bob Lussier’s Post

Jacob Lucas’s Post

Mike Oblinski’s Post

Boulder, CO – Boulder Canyon Road (HDR)

Sometimes I wish I lived in Colorado for photographic reasons. This is one of the most beautiful states in the US!  I luckily get to travel to Boulder often and earlier this summer before my meetings, I woke up early to take a drive outta town down Boulder Canyon Road.  It was my first drive ever down this route.  About 10-15 minutes down Boulder Canyon Road is Boulder Falls.   While driving this river hugs the road and the views are unreal!!  I loved this shot and pulled over immediately.  I dodged the AM traffic to cross the street and set up my tripod while making sure I did not get run over!   You can see the sun just about to rise in the distance.

There seems to be so many photo ops in the amazing state!  What would be the top 10 locations to photograph is CO??  Hmmmm.  If anyone lives there…post some comments below!  I am looking forward to my next visit in Feb…hope to see some snow!

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/22
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS5, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza

Austin, Texas – Cowboy Boots

Here is one more shot from the cool store called Allen’s Boots in downtown Austin.   I gave it a Fractalius touch and here is the original HDR version…below.  Both cool…so a double shot…Texas style!

Coronado, CA – Hotel Del Coronado (HDR)

If you are ever in San Diego, just a few minutes away is Coronado.  Here you can find the amazing Hotel Del!  We stopped by for dinner outside on the patio the nite before. I had never been, so I scoped out the place for shots.  I woke up early…around 5 AM this day and drove over for a photo run!  It was very quiet and this fantastic room was open for me to HDR!   It is called the Crown Room (see the lights above…crown shaped).  This would be a great spot for a wedding reception!  I can imagine its booked often and always filled.  I was lucky after I did a few shots I went elsewhere in the hotel, came back to this room and it was locked for an upcoming preparation.

When you walk into a place like this all you can think about is the history!  Here is some info from the web:  The Del’s visionary founders – Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story – dreamed of building a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western world.” Since then, the resort has become a living legend, visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents. In fact, publisher Rand McNally recognized the Hotel del Coronado for enjoying “more fame and historical significance than perhaps any hotel in North America.”

Eleven U.S. Presidents have visited The Del, starting with Benjamin Harrison in 1891. One of the resort’s most famous visitors was England’s Prince of Wales in 1920. He would later become King Edward VIII, only to give up his throne in 1936 to marry Coronado divorcee Wallis Spencer Simpson. Many have speculated that they may have first met at The Del. Hollywood has been making movies at The Del since 1901. In 1958, The Del was the backdrop for the comedy classic “Some Like It Hot,” starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The resort has also seen a steady stream of celebrity visitors – from Charlie Chaplin and Humphrey Bogart to Brad Pitt and Madonna.

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-14 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 12.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/11
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, HDR Efex Pro
  • NIK HDR Efex Pro – settings

    I have had quite a few people ask what settings I am using in NIK’s HDR Efex Pro.   You can use whatever works for you…my choice fav filter is

    03 Realistic (Strong)

    This filter choice makes the photo a little dark, so it needs brightening. I then play with the “Whites” slider and “Exposure”.

    I then continue with more post processing to finalize the photo. I’ll add a new HDR Tutorial for HDR Efex Pro in the next few weeks and will add it here. Have fun!

    Austin, Texas – Allen’s Boots (HDR)

    If you are in Texas, a must stop is a boot shop!  In Austin we have quite a few.  Downtown off Congress Ave you can find the wonderful Allen’s Boots.  Not only boots, but western wear as well (cowboy hats, shirts, belts).  Not sure, but maybe you can find a lasso???  It is great to see all the boot styles and colors.  Most Austin photographers have taken their share of boot photos…this was my first!  Austin is a college town…the University of Texas (UT) Longhorns.  The boots above are perfect for the UT fan!    Hook em Horns!!

    On a side note, I had my speech last nite at the Austin SMUG Meeting. I’d like to thank Jason St. Peter (Blog: 50% Chance of Rain)…he runs the meetings…for letting me speak about IR Photography.  I had a wonderful time and it was a great pleasure to meet all the fantastic people that attended last nite!  We had a great turnout.  It was my first photography speech ever and I loved it!  Thanks again everyone!  Hope you are all IR experts!

    Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 18-200 f/3.5-5.6
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 44.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/8
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, HDR Efex Pro, Viveza
  • Austin, Texas – Moore’s Crossing (HDR-Infrared)

    I took a long lunch yesterday and went to explore Moore’s Crossing here in Austin, Texas.  It is located a few minutes from the Austin International Airport.  I had no idea this place existed until my good friend Van Sutherland (blog: Exile Imaging) posted a shot from here just recently.  I was curious!   I Googled it and it has an interesting history!

    Some info from the web…  Moore’s Crossing is a historic community southeast of Austin, Texas.  The area was settled in the 1840s near a low-water crossing for Onion Creek. It was named after John B. Moore, who opened a store at the site in the early 20th century. In 1915, three of six spans from the 1884 iron Congress Avenue Bridge, which had been put into storage in 1910, were used to construct a bridge at Moore’s Crossing (formerly Onion Creek Bridge). The bridge was washed away by a spring flood that year.

    The current bridge, built by the Austin Bridge Company of Dallas is made of concrete piers and the remaining three spans from the Congress Avenue Bridge. It was completed in 1922 and took Burleson Road across Onion Creek to Farm to Market Road 973. On January 8, 1980, the bridge was “finally put to rest” after nearly 97 years. Richard Moya, Travis County Commissioner Precinct 4, stated the bridge would be closed because it could collapse. The concrete under the abutments had failed. The estimate to stabilize the one-lane bridge for traffic was $750,000 and that did not include widening it to support the increased traffic caused by area growth. A four-lane concrete beam bridge with a different alignment to Farm to Market Road 973 was built instead. The county barricaded the bridge at Moore’s Crossing and turned it into a pedestrian bridge. The bridge was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1980. The community was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 16, 1996.

    On my next post from here…I hear this bridge is haunted!  Gotta love ghost stories!!  Coming soon!   Note this was produced using NIK’s HDR Efex Pro!

    Don’t forget if you are in Austin tonite, I have my speech on IR Photography at the Austin SMUG Meeting tonite at 7 PM!   I will go through my eBook on IR Photography for DSLR’s.  Hope to see you there!

    Talke Photography Settings:

    • Camera:  Nikon D70S (Converted to Infrared)
    • Infrared Conversion:  D70S modified by LifePixel
    • Lens: Nikon 12-12 f/4
    • Setting: Aperture  Mode
    • Focal Length: 12.0mm
    • ISO: 200
    • Exposure:  HDR 3 Exposures  (+2 to -2)
    • Aperture:  f/22
    • Gear:  Tripod
    • Post Process: Adobe CS4, HDR Efex Pro, Viveza, Silver Efex Pro

    NIK HDR Efex Pro vs. Photomatix 4.0 (Round 2 of 3)

    NIK HDR Efex Pro version

    Photomatix 4.0 version

    Round 2 of NIK vs Photomatix.   OK, I am not a techie and cannot break down every bit of detail in a photo, I base my opinion on ease and an overall visual inspection.   I compared the above shots of the lovely St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco.  I chose the shot yesterday for tough sunny windows and today was about details and colors.  Both shots were processed using the same amount of time and steps (or as close as possible).   Yes, the PM version can be cleaned up a bit more, but I wanted to use equal steps.

    ROUND 2 – WINNER – NIK HDR Efex Pro I must say…game over…NIK wins hands down.  I am truly impressed.

    My order has already been placed for the NIK HDR Efex Pro.  I will now use this software to process my HDR’s.  In only 2 rounds, it was an easy victory.   You can download the trial all by yourself and compare.  Everyone has different opinions and that is what makes the world go around.  So see how you like it.  Some of my thoughts on NIK HDR Efex Pro:


    1) Great colors – especially red tones

    2) Sharp

    3) Solid HDR Presets

    4) Seems to handle difficult light better than Photomatix

    5) After Processing there seems to be a smoother highlight/shadow transition throughout the entire photo.  If you use Photomatix you sometime have falloff in certain areas.

    6) After post processing your exposures, the photo is closer to completion than a Photomatix version…this leads to less addtl post processing time


    1) Slow Processing – does take alot longer than Photomatix

    2) Higher pirce.  $50 more than Photomatix…search the net you can find 15% off coupon codes for NIK products all over.  I think Scott Kelby has one!   Makes it more affordable.

    I’m sure there will be many different opinions.  This is just mine.  Buh-bye Photomatix!   NIK rules!!  I will go Round 3 on Monday for fun and try to find a troubling sky shot with possible halos.

    NIK HDR Efex Pro vs. Photomatix 4.0 (Round 1 of 3)

    NIK HDR Efex Pro – version

    Photomatix 4.0 – version

    Ok, HDR artists….game on!  The new NIK HDR Efex Pro trial is out and it is time to compare vs. the current HDR Software champ Photomatix 4.0.   This is the first photo I have processed using NIK.  You can see both NIK and Photomatix versions above.   I will go 3 rounds in this battle and the winner gets my processing rights!  My original thoughts before I processed the photo in NIK was that they could not compete.  I processed the photo and WOW!!!  NIK HDR Efex Pro impressed me!!  Sharp!!!   Compare the crosses….kudos NIK!!   Pictures are worth 1000 words…you can decide on your own by looking above.  In this 7 exposure shot….my opinion….WINNER ROUND 1 = NIK HDR EFEX PRO   (Score 1-0 NIK).  I have a feeling I may be ordering NIK HDR Efex pro this weekend!!