Monthly Archive for: ‘April, 2011’
My oldest daughter had a gymnastics tournament in Gatlinburg, Tennessee a couple of months ago. About 3 hours into the drive, as we were approaching the city of Landrum, SC, I began to notice it was going to be a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately, the road we were driving on was very boring and offered nothing of interest to use within the foreground of a sunset shot.
With about 20 minutes left before the sunset was complete, I decided to turn off of the highway we were on so I could try to find a location that would make for a great photo opportunity. I remember making a left turn, then a right turn, then another right turn, and then a left turn, and then maybe even another left or right turn. Now lost, we were pleasantly surprised when I passed by the small farm pictured in this post.
As my wife, 3 daughters, and 2 of my daughter’s friends sat patiently in our mini-van, I stepped outside and fired several shots from various different perspectives. I wasn’t too happy with what I had captured initially, but after spending quite a bit of time post-processing this shot, I was satisfied overall with the final result.
And luckily, we ended up finding our way back to the main road without any problem and continued our journey to Gatlinburg. This just goes to show you what benefits come out getting off the beaten path. I’ve now got another photo I can add to my collection and may even choose to order up a print of this photo in the future for my home.
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I ventured out to the downtown area of Savannah on Friday afternoon to meet up with Kyle Johnson, a photographer friend I had recently met at a Meetup. Kyle has a growing interest in HDR Photography and wanted to get together so I could share a few tips with him.
I arrived in the downtown area around 1:30pm and wasn’t due to meet Kyle for another hour or two. This gave me an opportunity to peruse around the Savannah squares at a nice, slow pace. As I moved from square to square, I stopped at several places and snapped some shots. Knowing that heavy clouds were forecast to move in soon, I kept looking up at the sky. As I looked up one time, I noticed the peaks of The Cathedral of St. John The Baptist in the distance. Knowing how gorgeous this Cathedral was on the inside, I ventured in that direction.
When I walked inside of the Cathedral, I was very impressed with how massive it was. The intricate details were incredible. There was about 20 other people inside who were either walking around or sitting and preying. To my delight, a lot of people were taking pictures. I setup my tripod towards the back and began taking some shots. Unfortunately, with there being so many visitors, all of my shots were filled with tourists. That was ok I told myself, because I was planning on masking them out when I post-processed my photos.
Shortly after leaving the Cathedral, I met up with Kyle. We walked around some of the squares and both took some pictures of various things that struck our attention. Because I knew how great churches/cathedrals look in HDR, I asked Kyle if he wanted to get some pictures of the Cathedral. He was interested, so we walked over in that direction.
When we walked inside of the Cathedral, I was surprised how few tourists were now there. As we walked around for 5-10 minutes, it became even less crowded. Unbeknownst to us, the Cathedral was closing at 5pm and it was now 4:57pm. As Kyle was taking some shots from the front of the Cathedral, a grumpy man in the back signaled to us that it was time to leave. As I walked towards the back, I asked the grumpy man if I could take one more picture. He replied “If you can take in two minutes or less, you can.” I quickly setup my tripod and took my 3 final bracketed shots, which were used for the photo appearing within this post. There were only 2 other people who appeared within the shot and I decided to leave them in it. Can you spot them?
As I drove my daughters home from church last night, I noticed the Moon was unusually large and bright. Remembering that I had read earlier on someone’s Facebook wall that the Space Station was going to be visible this evening, I decided I’d get out my camera and take some shots. With the full Moon brightly shining, I was hoping to capture a shot of the Moon with the Space Station flying right in “front” of it. It was 8:35pm when I made this decision and the Space Station was due to zoom by between 8:50-8:55pm.
When I got home, I quickly got my camera, attached my 70-200mm lens, and fastened it to my tripod. I then bolted outside and quickly walked to my dad’s backyard, where there is a much less obstructed view of the moon. I set my camera to Aperture Priority mode and set my f-stop to 3.5. With only 2-3 minutes to spare before the Space Shuttle was due to begin flying across the horizon, I fired off some shots of the Moon. As I reviewed the shots I had just taken through the monitor on my camera, I was disappointed in how they appeared. They all looked like I had taken a picture of a large white ball, with a soft glowing halo surrounding it.
I then realized why the Moon looked so blown out. As I would focus on the Moon, my camera’s metering system would do its best to set my shutter speed to properly expose the Moon. What it wasn’t able to measure properly for though, were the craters on the Moon. So, I dialed down my exposure compensation to around -5 and took some more shots. The result of dialing down my exposure is the picture you see in this post. Unfortunately, the Space Station did not pass in front of the Moon and the shots I did capture of the Space Station didn’t turn out good at all.
One of the benefits of learning HDR Photography, is that it forces you to learn a lot about how your camera works and what all the buttons on your camera are actually there for. If you’ve spent $500 or more on a digital SLR and all you know how to do is shoot pictures in automatic mode, you doing yourself an injustice. Seriously, your camera is a very powerful device and you paid a premium to get something that you’re not even taking advantage of.
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I live in a town named “Rincon”, which is about 20 miles outside of Savannah. When I’m traveling and am asked by strangers where I live, I always respond by saying “Savannah” because otherwise I’d have to go into a further discussion about where “Rincon” is located.
Even though I’m only 20 or so miles from Savannah, I don’t often visit Savannah. You see, I’m not a very patient guy and the traffic in Savannah has gotten progressively worse over the past 5-10 years. This is an unfortunate thing though because Savannah has a lot of beautiful sites to see and photograph. Each time I visit Savannah and take pictures, I’m reminded of this.
The picture in this post is of the famous fountain in Forsyth Park. My plans the day I captured this photo were to get a picture of the fountain with a beautiful sunset in the background. As is the case most of the time, the weather did not cooperate with me. The multi-colored sunset pictures you’ve seen before are created when there are just the right amount of white, thin, fluffy clouds in the sky as the sun begins to dip below the horizon.
As I walked around Forsyth Park looking for the best vantage point of the sunset, it became apparent to me that I wasn’t going to be able to capture a sunset picture. So, in an instant, I changed my objective for the evening to instead capture a picture of the fountain that I knew would show the true beauty of the fountain itself.
I placed my tripod in a location that I know thousands of other people have also stood and taken pictures of the fountain from. That didn’t concern me though because I knew I’d be able to capture and share an image of the fountain that was unlike anyone had ever seen before. I don’t mean this in a conceited way at all. Because of the power of HDR Photography and how relatively new this process of photography is, I knew that I would likely be one of the first photographers to stand in this location during the prime blooming season, capture multiple exposures from this vantage point, and then “develop” those exposures using my own special post-processing recipe.
I’m very satisfied with the way the final image turned out. Yes, the sky is a bit boring, but if I’ve done my job correctly, your eyes should instead be drawn towards the fountain. Hopefully, anyone who’s ever visited this park and has seen this fountain before will feel as though my photograph is one of the best representations they’ve viewed. And if you’ve never had the opportunity to see this fountain in person, I hope this picture makes it feel as though you just have.
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It’s Friday night and I’ve just finished attending a 3-day Photoshop World conference in Orlando, Florida. For those of you not familiar with Photoshop World, it’s a conference produced by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). There are two of these conferences held each year and they are attended by over 1000 photography enthusiasts. As someone who has only been interested in photography for the past few years, this was the first time I’ve attended one of these conferences.
I registered for this conference over 2 months ago and shortly after I paid my registration fee, I received an email letting me know about a contest that is held for all Photoshop World conference attendees, called the “Guru Awards”. Here’s how the Photoshop World website describes these awards: “The Guru Awards are a special Photoshop contest just for attendees of the Photoshop World design and photography conference, and were created to honor and recognize the design, photography, retouching, and creativity of our attendees. Since their humble beginnings in 1999, the Guru Awards have now become the most prestigious and coveted awards in the international digital imaging industry.” Sounds pretty intriguing, doesn’t it?
So, I decided to enter the contest and chose the category of “Retouching”, since what I’m primarily doing with my photos is just that. Per the contest rules, I submitted 3 of my images. The 3 photos I chose were ones that had very drastic before/after looks to them. I didn’t really think about the contest any further after I finished my submissions.
Two weeks prior to the start of the conference I received an email letting me know that I had been chosen as 1 of 3 finalists for the photo I submitted titled “Big Ben Sunset”. (You can view this photo and the story that goes along with it by viewing the post I published named “Big Ben at Sunset“.) They wanted to make sure that I was going to be attending the conference, especially the opening keynote ceremony, because if I was chosen as the winner, I’d need to walk up on stage and accept my award. I replied that I was in fact going to be there for the opening ceremony and later received a reply back that I would be able to enter the arena prior to all other attendees so that I could get a seat up close to the stage.
Over the next couple of weeks, I wasn’t really too concerned with whether or not I would win the contest. After all, simply being chosen as a finalist already gave me the right to update my credentials to read “Scott Kublin – 2011 Photoshop World Guru Award Finalist”. That, in and of itself, was enough to make it so I could begin selling my photos for an overly inflated rate, right? :)
I know you’re aware of where I’m going with this, so I’ll just come out and let you know that I was chosen as the winner for the “Photo Retouching” category. I got to go up on stage in front of over 1000 conference attendees and accept my award, which was a really nice custom-engraved glass trophy. As I walked off stage, I was also handed gift cards to B & H Photo totaling $500, which was an especially awesome prize that I wasn’t expecting.
So, from now forward, I shall be referred to as “Scott Kublin, the 2011 Photoshop World Guru Award Winner“. All of my prints are now available to purchase online and I have tripled the price that I sell them for. (I’m just joking!)