Long Valley, NJ – Hacklebarney Park (Infrared)

The art you can create with an Infrared Camera is endless!   I am always trying to find ways to produce different looking shots with my IR photos.  Thanks to some new unreal and awesome software I just downloaded…onOne Software’s Perfect PhotoSuite 5.5 …did I have a great weekend of processing photos!!  I will get a review complete later this week.  I want a little more time to play around.   The effect in the photo above was thanks to Photo Tools 2.6 (part of the suite).

The photo above is from Hacklebarney Park when I visited in October.  The leaves were in full fall bloom.  I posted an HDR shot of this a few months back. I like this IR version as well!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D70S (Converted to Infrared)
  • Infrared Conversion:  D70S modified by LifePixel
  • Lens: Nikon 50mm f/1.4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 50.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  1/60 sec
  • Aperture:  f/11
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS5, ,Silver Efex Pro, onOne Software Photo Tools 2.6

And for more fun…the Pixel Bender version!!   So cool!  Love this Pixel Bender!!!

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

The Bubble That Got Away!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!!  During the past week…any of us photographers took tons of family shots!    We were playing out back in the yard with our new puppy.  She is a Yorkie-Poo and is about 6 months old.  Like any little one they love to play.  My daughter had her new bubble maker from Santa and was letting bubbles fly through the air.  The pup was having a ball chasing them!   I went in and grabbed my 70-200 lens and snapped away.  I put it on Shutter priority and got a few solid shots…fun for memories.

I was lucky with this one…and when I saw it in photoshop, I wanted to make it a bit more artistic.   It does look like a painting…so here were my steps in creating this shot…

In Photoshop CS5…

Color Efex Pro – Tonal Contrast, Viveza and then added a texture in Bridge.  It was cool…then I thought why not try the Plug-In called “Pixel Bender” (its free on Adobe).  I knew it could make photos into painting like shots.  I saw a clip about this on Scott Kelby’s “Photoshop User TV” …a few weeks ago.   I downloaded it here…Pixel Bender.   And used the “Oil Painting” option.  I moved the sliders around a bit and after all my processing..the shot is above.  Very cool!

Now I have tried the Pixel Bender since on a few photos.  I think it works great when there are trees & flowers in the shot!   I will keep trying every once in a while…maybe you will see another Pixel Bender shot soon!  Ah…Plug-Ins are great!! You can create great art!   Have a wonderful week back to work, school or whatever!

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 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.

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!!