Sunday, November 25, 2007

Still Experimenting with HDR and movement.

This time around I brought along a tripod. It does make it easier to control background aligning but its the frozen to one spot that is killing me. I didn't do well on a leash when I was 2, much less now at this advanced age.

The results are more satisfying in spite of being tied to a spot with a tripod. Exploration continues, now to find some other sports to focus on. As always 3 shots bracketed with Photomatix doing the HDR generation and tonemapping. Final clean up with CS2 and Virtual Photographer to bring on the more surreal aspects.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Avoiding Black Friday with a Buick

Yesterday was "Black Friday" the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season and to celebrate the day I avoided the malls. Instead I did the routine maintenance to my 1972 Buick Centurion. Of course once it was spiffed up, fresh oil etc., I had to go for a drive and make sure there were no "cobwebs" in the old gal's pipes. I am happy to report - there weren't any, in fact this troll in an Trans Am was quite surprised when I cleared out her pipes by opening the 4 barrel on the near empty freeway.

Maybe it's the "Pasadena Senior Center" sticker in the rear window from the original owner that makes people think the car has no huevos. Hah! The only thing better than the rumble of a big block with the 4 barrel opened up is the look of shock as some poser-muscle-car troll's face when he realizes I can best him and not break a sweat. Sweet. So after the quick run through the gears we settled down for a nice cruise.

Of course I had to stop in a park and do some pictures. This time around I shot with 2 reasons in mind. Primary is I wanted to experiment more with cars as a subject, done with HDR moving more to the surreal. The other to document the condition for someone who expressed interest in purchasing the "Bu".

Anyway, I sought to give the surreal edge in varying degrees to put the car in a semi-real setting like a manicured park and then romanticise it a bit. Even went towards the ad illustrators surreal better than life direction. As always shot 3 frames bracketed +/- 2 stops, HDR generation and tonemapping in Photomatix then on to final post processing with Virtual Photographer.

Now, I need some better and more varied cars to work with. Not to be a pest but a location where I can clear out the extraneous or use it to my advantage would be nice. Thinks like signs and light poles are a real pain in the arse when you have a 5,000LB + subject to jockey around!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

HDR Humans

I've touched on it a bit in prior posts regarding how HDR generating programs attempt to handle moving objects while trying to match up pixels and align stationary items. In short you get very interesting bits of people and the more they move the more the registration starts creating ghosts. I like the abstract and impressionistic results. I'm still only exploring the the possibilities but I like what I am getting.
Sports in particular I am going to have to get the discipline of using a tripod. Even as brightly lit the interiors seem to be you still have some very long shutter speeds to deal with. Camera movement is a variable I want to control or eliminate while I explore the potential of just the subject moving. Once I get a handle on that I can go to starting to blur the back grounds too.
Anyway the results of a recent Basketball tournament show 3 frames bracketed (some of the +2 exposures were nearly 1/10-1/20th second). Photomatix was used for both the HDR file generation and tonemapping. Adobe CS2 handled the post processing corrections with the Virtual Photographer doing the final finesse.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Somethings are so surreal you have to show 'em that way

The last several days its been busy with a lot of stuff in general so it's been hard to explore my favorite obsession of the "predictors". In some respects the way the HDR programs handle movement it reminds me a lot of how the abstract painter LeRoy Neiman portrayed movement. Rather than blurs it was bits and pieces representing parts in motion that when viewed as a whole you got the impression of speed, direction and strength within the setting.
I actually had the pleasure of seeing some of his works back in the day when I worked at the Fasion Show Mall in Las Vegas and a gallery there had a huge show of his original work. His was the first blending of impressionism and abstraction that worked for me.
Although I can't claim my exploring of what I call the "predictors" has the quality of his works, you can see what direction I am currently exploring. As discussed within here before it was sort of a happy-accident that I started down this path.
Anyway car shows are surreal, especially during the press events where there are few people about. IT is very museum like on those days with the exception of where the scheduled media event is taking place. Cars are presented as works of art, people oooh and ahhh as if they are just that. I am a car nut, gear head, fanatic but at the end of the day they are really just an appliance to move about quickly during the course of our day.
This set was shot with HDR post processing in mind. I kept the "film speed" down to allow longer shutter speeds to allow blurring of moving objects. It was all post processed in the Photomatix HDR generating and tonemapping programs. Final bits were complete in CS2 with help of "virtual photographer".
An interesting phenomena that came about for the first time is how black areas feather out and suddenly become devoid and glaring white. At first it bugged me, much like trying to balance different colors of light. I could control the phenom a bit through adjusting contrasts and even could have cloned it over, but I decided not to. The point behind this was to portray the surreal side of the event and kept it. It almost brings it to the realm of torn paper or feather edged soft edges from a sketch book. Since I have neither the patience nor talent to do that I let it stay. It adds to the final image so I called it a happy accident and moved on.
Enjoy the last of the LA Auto Show series. I may starting hustling press passes as these get me into things I never dreamed off.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Been a busy week with my other passion - CARS!

Lincoln MKS on a turntable

Writers checking out the Lincoln MKS

Chryslers ray of hope -Nassau Concept Car

Nissan Press Conference count down.

Ford Trucks - green paint doesn't make them eco friendly

I love cars, new cars, old cars, beaters with character. Cars. Especially the old school Detroit Iron with massive big block V8's. Yes, there were socially irresponsible but they also had character which so many of our newer cars are lacking in my not so humble opinion.

Believe it or not the gabacho got a media pass through his work at and I used it. Both days. I was supposed to even be a guest of GM at a few of their events but a series of missteps on their part ended them rearranging schedules where I couldn't make even their fancy-schmancy dinner on the first day of the Press Days. Such is life, but at least no one can accuse me of being tainted in my opinions.

Actually, those of you who know me know that I've always been a pretty ardent supporter of the domestic auto industry even during their darkest days. Up until this last batch my car's have been really problem free up until the 125-150K mile markers when I traded them in. The show and current ownership experience (more of a dealership problem I suspect) has changed my mind. A Lot.

As always the pics are all mine. Shot in hdr as I had some very special emotions and impressions I wanted to leave you with. I really drifted off more into the realm of digital art with these. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Predictors and a cool old Ford

Baldwin Baked Potato, Lime Avenue

Myrtle Avenue Walk

Lime Avenue Crossing

Army Surplus and Wagons

Old Ford

Walking in my 'hood the other day I relished the relative quiet and quaintness of Old Town Monrovia. Some of these scenes may strike a cord of familiarity, and rightfully they should. Old Town Monrovia has been the setting for the TV show "October Road".

Kind of nifty to see them in action. It's usually during the week, at night that they do all of the shooting. In August when it was 115 freaking degrees and there were trees with fall color and windows frosted to look like fall. In a similar heat wave around 100 in September we arrived on Myrtle and Lime Avenues to find it several inches deep with man made snow for the Christmas episode. OK, I've been in LA for a long time but I'm still digging the whole movie thing, not jaded at all. Having your hometown used as TV or Movie set just kicks.

The last bit actually is part of my "found on road" alive series on flickr. It's amazing the great old cars you see just being driven around town. Some beat to hell, others just pristine like they belong in a show somewhere.

This entire set was shot the other morning while meandering around town and just shooting. I went out with the intent to shoot it all post processing and giving it all a surreal edge. It's that impressionists bent I go on at times. As always they were shot with the Eos20D, a super long zoom, bracketed +/- 2 stops from base average metering. From there those RAW files were joined with the Photomatix HDR generation programs. The HDR file was then tonemapped, converted down to 8bit files that were given their final tuning and a run through Virtual Photographer. Enjoy.

Monday, November 05, 2007

ICME (It Caught My Eye)...arrested decay in living color

Whilst walking about just shooting these two caught my eye the other day. The first struck me funny when I realized that that long closed burger stand had a chair with one leg missing, just sitting there for who knows how many months at this point. To be truthful its on that funny little stretch of Monrovia that everyone zooms by on the way into the Target complex in Duarte. Most people don't even realize its Monrovia. I suspect since its wide open and not developed its time as a wide open green space is limited.

The other bit that struck me funny was the effort to cover up taggers handy work by simply painting over it. They must be buying left overs from the local Home Depot as the colors are all different. There are actually several spots in town with this impromptu patchwork painting in progress. It's that unplanned Urban Art that amuses.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cars, Cars, Cars....found on road alive.
It's no secret I love cars. Mostly those old beasts prior to 1970 before they had their compression cut way back in the first effort to control what spewed out the tailpipes. I do like a lot of the very early 70's cars, at least the big blocks as even with the compression drops they still put out tremendous tire smoking torque.
In So Cal we are in a unique position in that they cars really get run to death before they die. Unlike the rust belt where they are just a corroded hull in 10 years, our cars last several decades. Many old 30 years or more and still intact and running. I call those "found on road alive". I have have a page in my Flickr account named just that.
This last week I stumbled across a bunch of guys working magic on old car with HDR Digital Photography and taking the old beasts into the surreal. I too am starting that trail too. Where was this brilliant idea last month when I was cruising through the Monrovia Hot Rod Show!
So just wandering about town the other day spotted these 3 beasts in various states of being. The last is an old Riv' that falls in to the Predictors realm I blogged about the other day.

Stay tuned for some more pics here and on my flicker pages.

Turns out that I got invited by GM as a writer to attend the LA Auto Show 11/14. That should be a hoot. Me considered a writer, but it should be fun. Getting in and shooting without the masses of strollers around should be even better than public days.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

HDR & Humans...predictors of movement

I knew from the beginning with HDR one of the variables with the process that could get wonky is registration. Specifically a noodge while shooting each of the 3+ bracketed frames you could have off registration that would make a literal image not work. I'm just not well adapted to tethers, ask my Mom I spent a part of my terrible 2's on one. (Probably explains my unwillingness to stay in the lines even now).

Tripods are like a tether as they restrict my spontaneous movement. I've gotten better with making sure I stand still for the various frames. I somehow have gotten good at finding already built in brackets like fire plugs, light standards and statutes (don't ask) to help me brace to avoid that challenge.

I suspected that human movement would cause registration problems too. Like the original long exposures when the first cameras and processes were used in the late 1800's things got blurred if they moved. That's why eye's looked so funny...blinks caused eyes to lose their shimmer.

I anticipated that movement would cause multiple variations of the object in motion when the HDR was generated. I kinda liked it. A LOT. Sliding down your blending you wind up getting some vary distinct ghosting images from the under/over exposed portions that look as if you are capturing the soul in a freeze frame motion. Very cool. So far the results have been stopping people in their tracks. A good thing in my book as it is something I want to explore more. Getting a reaction makes it more fun.

All were shot free style (no tripod) RAW. I used a bracket of +/- 2 full stops. Photomatix generated the HDR files then I used their tone mapping program to adjust the range of tones.

The final image was color corrected and post processed through Virtual Photographer by OptikVerve. Enjoy the results.