Chicago Skyline

Shot this in Chicago last year when I visited the Navy Pier. I can’t tell you what part of Chicago this is since I don’t know the city that well but rest assured, it is Chicago.

There is something cool about a cityscape. You get all sorts of cool lights going on in the image. It helps when the sky cooperates and you get some nice light to make everything look good. It was taken at the phase between golden hour and blue hour. The clouds looked like rain but it didn’t happen. It just got a bit windy and the next day it rained.

This is a HDR image. I am learning to do just single image HDR’s. I find that I get better results without merging all three of the images together. You don’t have to worry about the weird HDR artifacts that occur when you try and do 3 shots together. It’s a much cleaner file to work with. So I have found myself doing more of these edits because I genuinely like HDR but just hate the mess that the software makes.

My workflow now for HDR is do my camera defaults in Lightroom then take the file into Photoshop. I discovered that Aurora 2017 won’t take the Lightroom edits. So by bringing it into Photoshop it will do that. It isn’t an extra step because I end up doing the final file in Photoshop anyways.

When I have the file in Aurora 2017 I just play with sliders. I honestly just keep messing about until I am happy. I have no idea how the image is going to turnout. Once I’m happy it’s back into Photoshop. I do local dodging and burning to fix some issues and then call it done.


Chicago Skyline

Masts As Tall As Buildings

This image has driven me nuts since I shot it last year. There were multiple technical issues with it that I could not overcome. Throw in the weird angle and my obsession because I liked it made me work on it till I got it right. That and I was feeling masochistic.

The image was taken at the Navy Pier in Chicago. I have no idea what the boat is called but I just liked the masts of the boat rising up. I could only get the weird angle because of all the people but it worked with the masts. It also gave me the idea for the title.

My issue with the image was that it was underexposed big time. Every frame was this way. While I could bring up the exposure I would blow out the highlights and cause other problems. Finally I just kept working at it until I got something useful. Used a lot of gradients to keep various areas from blowing out. I also didn’t fight it if things clipped to black.

Editing wise, once I got the image set in Lightroom it was into Photoshop. I did a lot of local adjustments with dodging and burning. I still wasn’t fully happy with the final image. Loaded the image into Intensify CK and just hit a preset. It did wonders and brought everything to life. Once I had it back in Photoshop I didn’t even layer mask it in. Was happy with the way it looked and called it done.


Boat at Navy Pier Chicago

Night Bean

It should be pointed out that I took many a photo of the “bean” in Millennium Park in Chicago. I used to feel bad about about publishing images that are similar but each one is different. Light changes, mood changes when editing and so on. Spread them out and you get a lot of usable images that would otherwise never see the light of day.

I edited this photo nearly a month ago. Sometimes I do edits when the mood hits me and sit on them. I showed it to a friend of mine gently hinting prints were available. He knowing me well asked me if I wanted to kill the people in the image since they were ruining my shot.

I used to be fairly anal about people in my images. I have come to the point if they are there and make sense I have no problem. In this case, the blurred motion of the people give the otherwise static image a sense of life. It’s not just a cold object reflecting anymore. Still, if someone walks through my damn landscape when I’m clearly shooting I’m going to kill them. Justifiable homicide for photography is permissible.

Editing wise this was really all about the bean and the reflections. The sky going to blue was actually the ambient light coming off and the sky being purple and dark blue earlier. To counter that I wanted other parts to punch out as well. So I ran a filter through with Intensify CK and then masked those bits in. Ran another filter just for the bean to bring those reflections out. Finally some dodging and burning to keep focus on the bean itself.

For inquiring minds, no my reflection is not in the bean.


Night Bean

Path To Modernity

Took this image in Chicago last year. Was my last night in Chicago before I flew out to Thailand for a brief holiday.

I wanted to go to Millennium Park and photograph the bean statue that is big draw in the park. I had seen stuff from Ming Thein and was only a few blocks away. My schedule didn’t mesh until the final night. The problem was it was pissing down rain but it was a typical Summer thunderstorm. There one minute and gone the next.

I set out to the park and got my own bean shots. I was in no rush. To make sure I slept on my flight to Thailand I was staying up all night so I just started to wander around. Millennium Park is very large. Lots of little paths to wander down. I ended up this wooden path among the wild flowers and figured why not take a picture.

This image may look HDR but it is not. When I do an image like this I always use my base workflow. This means applying the correct camera profile. Then I do my curves adjustments and any dodging and burning. I always have a “finished” image that I could publish if I wanted to. Once I have that I look at it and figure out if I want to give it a bit more details. I tend to work in zones for a lack of a better word. I will load filters in for specific parts of the image. One for the sky and buildings. One for the walkway and flowers. I mask thone is with different opacities. I did a hue/saturation adjustment on the flowers because things got a bit nuclear and masked that in and said done. Takes some time but you do get nice images out of it.


Path to Modernity

Architectural Travels – Part 3

I am almost done with the Architectural Travels series. I just have one more set to publish. These images were shot in Chicago, Illinois, Thailand, and Panama. The bulk split between Chicago and Panama.

When I started this series out I never had the intention of splitting it into so many categories. It just worked out that way when I started to edit the images. I could see how some images were more similar to others so it just made sense to save them that way.

This series was shot on 4 cameras. My Sony RX100III, Olympus EM1, Canon S100, and Sony A7R. Short of me looking at the names I can’t visually tell the differences between them. With good editing and a workflow that remains the same you can get consistent results regardless of the camera used. Interestingly enough I do own 3 out of the 4 cameras still. I sold all my Olympus gear to purchase my Nikon gear so I could have full frame for all my professional work.


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Architectural Travels – Part 2

I indicated in part 1 of this series that I was going to go through and clear out all my architectural photos I have taken over my travels. I return with part 2 which I am calling reflections.

These images were taken in Panama City, Panama and Chicago. There are no Thailand shots simply because where I am in Thailand doesn’t do large glass buildings. They are in Bangkok if you are interested but I’m not biggest fan of the city.

These images were shot on 3 different cameras. The cameras were a Nikon D810, Canon S100, Sony A7R, and Sony RX100III. There are subtle differences between the cameras but I tried to keep the images with the same style when editing for consistency purposes.



Architectural Travels – Part One

I rarely have time to do series of images. This is mainly due to the fact that editing takes considerable amount of time. With me having some time off I went ahead and completed a series I have had in mind for some time, all the architectural shots I have taken over the course the last year or so and publish them in cohesive sets.

I broke up all the images into what I consider sets of similar characteristics. This set I am calling details. It’s more about the finer points within the architecture. Some of it is subjective. It is my interpretation of the style and I do not pretend to be an architect by any stretch of the imagination.

For those of you that read regularly and aren’t into pictures of buildings have hope. I will intersperse the series with normal landscape and travel photos I normally do. I am cognizant that this is mostly personal interest to me.

I’m not going into editing details. The series was shot on 5 different cameras. I have used a Canon S100, Sony RX100III, Sony A7R, Nikon D810, and Olympus EM1. The images were shot in Thailand, Panama, and the United States, specifically Chicago. I could have jammed more in but I thought that was enough.

Hope you enjoy.


World Within A World

This the Bean thing in Chicago. It’s really called Cloud Gate and it’s located in Millennium Park in downtown. If you are near Michigan Ave and Wacker Ave. it’s an easy walk.

I have published a similar image before. I really did this because I wanted to play with HDR and test Aurora 2017 and doing layers with it. So not my finest work in life but it did what I needed.

I have had Aurora 2017 for some time. I just haven’t been in the HDR mood. Of the the reasons is the stupid halos you get when you do HDR around items with sky. There is ways to combat it but it’s tedious and time consuming. The other thing is Aurora 2017 wants you to drag straight from Lightroom into the program and start having it. The problem is that it will ignore all your corrections which really pisses me off. I have custom camera profiles for all my cameras. This has fixed a lot of issues with color and perspective. Aurora 2017 ignoring this has caused problems. What the hell is the point of getting accurate camera info if the program ignores it?

To fix this I just did a single image edit. I applied all my profile adjustment then did my usual adjustments in Lightroom involving gradients and so on. I use Photoshop to put in contrast and so on. When I was done I just took the image into Photoshop and then selected Aurora 2017 as a filter and went to work.

I just kept making layers and masking in within the program. Each layer was working on a specific item within the image. I want the bean thing to the focal point so I did the most HDR in there. Then I did the sky and masked that bit in. Then did a bit of lightening and masked that in. Hit apply and back into Photoshop for local dodge and burn and some desaturation.

This was a quick and dirty edit and nothing fantastic but it’s a fun photo. I could have done it normal but I think the whimsical nature of it already made it a candidate for a test.


World Within A World

Sunset Behind Chicago

More from the Chicago archives. This was more of a B roll type image but I really liked how the sun was setting behind the Chicago skyline and the way the weird cloud was over the sky.

The walkway isn’t in the most ideal location but I was hampered by a fence that didn’t allow me to place the tripod exactly where I wanted. Hopefully the water will draw your eye more than the walkway. If not then ignore it and look at the sky anyways!

I really wanted a quick edit because I am mildly jetlagged from being on the West Coast of the US for that 10 days. Instead this turned into an hour long odyssey of editing. Multiple masks were applied and I had to do a bit of dodging and burning to bring everything to a point I could stop.


Sunset Behind Chicago

Don’t Cross The Streams

It seems I have been obsessed with movie titles or lines for post titles lately. This one came from Ghostbusters. If you have never seen the original or the remake go watch. It will make sense.

This is the Navy Pier from across Lake Michigan. You can see the skywheel that I have previously published images of before. I was all the way down the Chicago River Walk near some marina and I took this image.

With the image being so dark really with a lot of extra stuff I went for a 2.7:1 ratio. I meant to do 2.4:1 but this crop gives it a more panoramic feel to it.

I have been using Aurora 2017 more lately and it does a really good job creating HDR images with only 1 source image. Normally I mask in bits but with this image being black with various coloured lights I left it alone as HDR no masking.

Still wanting a bit more detail I masked in a layer from Intensify CK to bring out a bit more details in the light trails. Once I was happy called it done.


Don't Cross The Streams