O Christmas Tree (HDR)

Christmas is over and we started to clean up the house today and take down the decorations.  The tree was our last item to tackle.  As I took a break this morning, I looked at the tree and yes, I HDR’d it and even tried an Infrared Photo (which was not good enough).  As I looked at the tree…I thought why not shoot it monochrome!  As I shot it this way, I decided to go ahead and get a few additional color shots.    I like closeup tree shots and processed my HDR’s from this morning just a bit ago.  They were cool, but we have all seen a tree HDR’d.  I even posted mine on XMas. I wanted something different.

I added the pic into NIK’s Software…played with Color Efex Pro…just ok.  Then tried my original thought of monochrome in Silver Efex Pro.  Then I clicked on the “Antique Plate II” setting and that was it!  I tweaked the contrast and hue/saturation a bit.  So here is my last holiday shot of the season!   New Years is next!!  See ya next year XMas!!

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

    NIK HDR Efex Pro version

    Photomatix 4.0 version

    OK, after 2 rounds NIK is up 2-0.  This is the last and final round.  I found a tough sky/halo shot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.    Please note, again I used basically the same steps for each processed shot.   Yes, the Photomatix shot can be improved, but I wanted to compare apples to apples.

    NIK is amazing!  It kinda makes Photomatix looks like a piece of old junk.   Check out the overall light/shadow difference….

    a) NIK handled the sky nicely…while Photomatix looks messy!

    b) The Eiffel Tower’s upper section on the NIK looks nice…the Photomatix struggles to even the light flow and is dark and lifeless.

    c) The light on the main big tree in the NIK version is fluid and eye pleasing…while Photomatix struggles with the top section light in that tree

    d) The green tones above are softer in NIK.  Photomatix must always be desaturated.

    Of course NIK is not perfect. I see a slight halo on the lower left side of the tower.  Any photo can be broken down in many many pcs…but in a quick overall visual decision….it is an easy victory for NIK.  Looks like my Photomatix will be collecting dust until they improve it.   This is great news for us HDR artists!  Competition fuels quality and it can only help us!

    I have been asked what settings I use for my NIK HDR Efex Pro….I’ll go into that next week!  Let me get some more play with the software and then I can give you some firm scoops!  Have fun!

    Las Vegas, Nevada – The Venetian Hotel (HDR)

    From the fun and party filled Las Vegas…here is an HDR of the Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip! Las Vegas is a paradise for adults that like to get away and have fun…but it should also be noted as a key spot for HDR photography!  I must admit, there is probably an HDR every step you take in Vegas!  Colors, Lights, Hotels…its all there to photograph.  The big issue is people.  We just came back from a 3 day visit and it was the peak of summer holidays!  My only option is early morning photo time!   This shot was my target.  I had been to the Venetian and knew it was perfect for HDR.  I set my alarm this Saturday for 4:30 AM.   I awoke and looked outside…wow!  The streets were packed and filled with people…time to go back to bed!  I gave myself another hour of sleep and was up now at 5:30 AM.  The sun was coming up and I figured all the party people will be passed out or asleep at this time!  I looked outside and it was getting quiet.  I jumped in a cab and hit the Venetian.  I asked the cabbie was is the quietest time in Vegas….he said 8 AM.  …although I thought 6 AM was not bad!

    This location at the Venetian is located right next to the registration.  Here you can find this amazing hallway and meeting area you can see ahead with a beautiful fountain. All just waiting for HDR photographers!!  LOL  I had to people dodge many times, but it wasn’t too bad.  Some exposures were long and any people involved…just disappeared!   I shot the hotel for about 90 minutes and made my walk back down the strip.  I post a few more shots from here soon.  I’d say any shot here was a great one.  If you have been here and photographed it…you know well!   Viva Las Venetian!!

    Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 14.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/16
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza, Color Efex Pro
  • NEWS: NIK Software – HDR Efex Pro

    Yesterday I attended the NIK Software – HDR Efex Pro Webinar (Thanks for the tip Horace!). It was about 40 minutes and was used to showcase the upcoming NIK HDR Software.  A screen capture is above.  Tony Sweet processed 3 photos using HDR Efex Pro (a test version).  The final software version is due out later this summer (July).   Price not decided yet.   I must admit it will be tough to take me away from Photomatix….no other software has come close.  I currently use all the NIK Software.   HDR Efex Pro follows the same usage techniques as all the other great NIK products.  Along the left side you can use presets for quick versions of your HDR.  Overall it looked very interesting.   The one note Tony stated was that HDR Efex Pro does a better job on any halos than other software.  Hmmmm.  I will surely demo it when it comes out.  Will it top Photomatix….yet to be seen.  Will advise as soon as I try it!!