Categories
General Photography Technology

Waveland and Kenmore in HDR


HDR or High Dynamic Range is a photography post production technique that seems to be very trendy these days. It’s known for yielding striking images full of color and detail not attainable through a single shot. I’ve been fascinated by the idea since I first heard about it a few years ago.

Basically, for those of you who are not photographers the idea is pretty simple. A digital image can only contain a certain amount of light / color information so tones above and below the acceptable range get clipped out, either appearing as pure black or pure white. What HDR seeks to do is to bring back that information by working with multiple exposures.

In short: you take three shots, one too dark, one too light and one even. Each one of those images will have information the others won’t. For example, one image might highlight the color in the sky and another might bring out the details in the shadows. By combining these three shots we can create one composite image with more color and detail than any of the originals.

For my first attempt I worked with a combination of tools from shot to upload. The first of which is my Canon Digital Rebel XTi and my trusty Canon 28mm f2.8 lens. I’m a big fan of this lens for it’s wide angle and relatively high aperture (the f2.8). The allows my camera to take in a lot of light very quickly with a lot of sharpness and crisp color. This is absolutely one of my favorite lenses.  Every Canon shooter should have something similar.

From there I loaded my images into Apple’s Aperture 2.1 software where I picked my three shots and did some conservative adjustments to bring out more detail in the images. From there I went into Adobe Photoshop CS3.

Now anyone who knows my photography most likely knows that I do everything I can to avoid working in Photoshop. These days I try to accomplish everything I possibly can inside Aperture. However I have not been impressed by what I’ve seen from the Hydra HDR plugin that is available for Aperture, so I decided to give Photoshop’s built in one a chance.

Much to my delight the feature worked as advertised. By loading in the three images it was able to create one 32-bit image with a startling range of color. Unfortunately not many programs can handle a 32-bit file so I had to convert it back down to the 16-bit range of the previous files. However, the ultimate goal was still accomplished. My one 16-bit file now contained a lot more color and detail than any of the three. Still the image started to look a little flat so, from there I did some basic curves adjustments to restore some contrast and moved the image back to Aperture.

Inside Aperture I did a little more tweaking of saturation and sharpness to make the image punch some more and there we have it, my first real HDR image is a success. (At least I think so.)

The biggest challenge in this process to me was shooting the photographs themselves. I had to make sure that, without a tripod, I kept my shots steady and without interruption from cars or passers by.

As a whole I’m pleased by the process and the results. I will definitely play with HDR imaging a lot more in the future.

Categories
Business General Photography Technology

Quick Thoughts About AT&T DSL

For a long time, I have been a big fan of AT&T’s cell phone service. I have been with AT&T (then Cingular) since 2002 and have been extremely pleased.

However, I do not share the same opinion about AT&T’s DSL offerings.  Here in Chicago, my broadband options are more diverse than what I had in Brooklyn several years back (Verizon DSL or nothing). When I moved to Chicago, I had three options: Comcast, RCN, and AT&T. I loath Comcast. My opinion of that company could fuel a whole other entry by itself, so I quickly dismissed it. I had never heard of RCN, so I dismissed it as well, and that left me with good ol’ AT&T.

Since signing with AT&T, I’ve had random outages, suspected a few incidents of bandwidth throttling, and read a lot of stories about the company sharing customer information. But, in truth, I have not once have I needed to call customer support, so my opinion had been neutral thus far. However, last night, my internet dropped out without warning when I really needed it. Quickly a friend on Twitter confirmed that the outage was seemingly citywide. The outage was short but it was enough to screw up my plans and leave a sour taste in my mouth. Then I read something while updating my Flickr profile.  One sentence changed my opinion:

You have a Pro account, at no cost as long as you keep your AT&T Yahoo! service.

Okay, so Flickr Pro is only around $20 a year (and probably the best deal on the planet,) and it’s a small contribution when you boil it down. But that said… it was enough to make me smile, bring me back to the neutral ‘meh’ I was at before, and almost turn me into a promoter.

They found my weak spot. Photography is the key to my heart.

Categories
General Photography

Just another day…

I spent some time with Gary Vaynerchuk and Jason Fried today, great guys, both of them.

I ended up going to Gary’s book signing this evening, where he did a live recording of Wine Library TV. I had a good time all around. A few photos can be found on my Flickr account.

I hope Gary enjoyed Chicago, I look forward to seeing him again sometime in the future.

Categories
Chicago Design General

Works In Progress

http://www.sinnermanensemble.org

I have so much to write about, so much to tell.  My world has just been bursting with inspiration in the last few weeks, but I have so little time to share. So I’m leaving you with a simple link to a site I’m working on.

The SiNNERMAN Ensemble is a new upcoming theater production group based out of Chicago. They will be premiering their second play this May. I’m working closely with them on establishing their brand identity, including but not limited to: their logo and their website. Stay tuned.

Categories
Chicago Design General Pop culture Technology

Planting the ‘Seed’

Roman Coppola

Keeping in my ‘seeking out inspiration’ kick, I just registered for the ‘Seed’ conference with Jason Fried, Jim Coudal, and Carlos Segura on October 29th.

I’m looking forward to it; I hope to learn a lot. I’m also really enjoying networking as of late. I’ve been astounded by the people I’ve been meeting lately, and it started with An Event Apart.

Coming out here to Chicago has been a huge opportunity for me. There is always something new and inspiring going on that fascinates me. So many opportunities to learn.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Wes Anderson’s Hotel Chevalier at the Apple Store. The screening was hosted by producer Roman Coppola. Afterward, Roman stuck around for Q&A. The crowd was excellent, and his rapport with them was phenomenal.

While filmmaking is not my field of choice, listening to Roman was very inspiring. He spoke about starting a project, from research to making compromises to achieve a vision. I’m really looking forward to ‘The Darjeeling Limited.’

It’s weird, but I spent years in New York, the “cultural center of the world,” and somehow, I missed opportunities like this. I think I’m just more in tune with the world around me today.

It’s exciting.