…we have a problem!!

•June 12, 2010 • 4 Comments

So today I thought I would post this shot of an interesting room I found in at one of my favorite haunts: the abandoned sanitarium at Beelitz-Heilstätten, Germany. I first saw a picture of this room posted on flickr in 2009, and could not figure out why Whitney’s name was featured. I though, like many have debated, that maybe the photographer had created the Whitney Houston banner in Photoshop, an easy thing to do these days. Well, the more photos I saw (and studied close up), the more I became convinced it was real. Needless to say, I had to get into this building. Problem was that it is not possible to just stroll into the front door of this place; you have to find an alternate way in (there is always another way in). Long story short, I found my way in and explored my way to the side of the building I guessed was big enough to house this theater. It is hard to describe the feeling of excitement you feel when you find a great photographic subject. Suffice to say I was VERY happy, so I spent a couple of minutes shooting this great hall. I am really pleased with what I came away with, and I can promise all of you the Whitney Houston banner is, indeed, real!! Have a seat and enjoy the show!

...we have a problem!

It’s ALWAYS about the light!!

•June 10, 2010 • 6 Comments

Man! Where to begin! Again, it’s been a dog’s age since I have posted to my blog. Whaz up wit dat? What can I say? No excuse, sir! Anywho, I’m back!! Since the last time I posted, I have done a lot of shooting (mostly URBEX) and a lot of post-processing. Do what, right? Well… I’ll tell ya! I think that I have actually improved my work. When I go back into my hard drive and look at my first HDR work, and compare it to what I do now, I can see that I am, as Hanibal Lecter said, “Becoming!” I think all of us improve our craft when we take the time to honestly self-critique what we do, identify our weaknesses and figure out what it is about each and every image we make and how we might try to improve our next piece. When I first started creating HDR images, I thought that everything in the image had to be bright and visible. Wel. I’m here to tell ya that is not what is meant by, “It’s ALWAYS about the light.” Being about the light is all about creative lighting. As the great Rick Sammon says, “light illuminates, shadows define!” True words have never been spoken. Think about it the next time you look at a subject you want to shoot, and then think about how you will use light to sculpt your subject, rather than blast the image with light!

It's ALWAYS about the light!

Fallen Angel

•April 24, 2010 • 2 Comments

Greetings friends! As usual, it has been awhile since I have update my blog, but this one is kind of special. Why, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. For one, this is the first blog entry that I am doing completely from my iPad and using the free WordPress iPad app! Works like a charm. I am liking this convenience, a lot! Second, the image I have included in this entry is the first composited work I’ve posted. I have often wanted to produce composited works, but have been leery of the complex masking that would have been necessary to create what I had envisioned. A piece of software from the good folks at Topaz Labs has become my lifesaver in that regard, specifically a program called Remask 2. So without further ado, I present the ‘Fallen Angel’!

Fallen Angel

By the way, someone asked me the other day what it was that inspired this particular piece. One inspiration was a recent nightmare, and the other was Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. Let me know what you think.

“1” Bad Cart!!

•April 3, 2010 • 2 Comments

So I debated today whether I would post an image from my Urbex infiltration of Krampnitz Kaserne yesterday, but decided to post something I shot in the garage today.  Even after about 7 hours for exhilarating fun at Krampnitz, I felt the need to blast off some brackets to process into a pleasing HDR.  Because I live in an old German (built on top of a WWII air raid bunker), so there are some cool spaces to use as background.  The garage had just the atmosphere I was looking for, so I moved the gokart into position for a nice close-up wide-angle HDR.  I spread the legs of my trusty Gitzo traveler tripod to allow me to position the camera mere inches from the ground, and moved the bulbous head of my sweet Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 within about a foot of the front tire to give the kart an imposing look.  I think this one came out just they way I wanted, dark and mean!!

1 Bad Cart

Sniper’s Alley

•March 28, 2010 • 3 Comments

The alley

Someone asked me the other day of I would be able to shoot a decent URBEX shot without my DSLR and without relying on HDR. Well, here is the result of that challenge. I think it came out alright, and it was fun to seek out a subject with a limited enough dynamic range. I shot this one between two buildings, which helped keep the light fairly even, as everything in this shot was in indirect light, save for the far right corner of the shot.

I shot this image at the old abandoned VEB Chemiewerk Coswig, in Rüdersdorf, former East Germany.  For those who are familiar with the movie “Enemy at the Gates”, this is where much of it was filmed.  Needless to say, I moved wth caution on location, careful to avoid leaving myself open to a well placed head-shot from the great sniper Vassily Zaitzev!

Delicate Beauty

•March 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes, you just don’t have a chance to get out of the house to photograph something interesting.  When that happens, I try to find something around the house to capture.  My lovely wife had been kind enough to provide a suitable subject when she bought a nice bouquet of tulips for a Sunday dinner party.  Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I pulled out my D700, Tamron 90mm SP AF 2.8 macro lens and my trusty tripod to try a little HDR magic on one of the tulips.  It took my some time to find just the angle I wanted.  As I looked through the viewfinder, I composed for the shot I had envisioned.  I knew that I wanted to accentuate the soft, delicate nature of this beautiful flower, so I chose to open the aperture to f/4.5.  Since I was on a tripod, I also dialed my ISO down to 100 to keep the RAW images smooth and noiseless.

Because I was not shooting across a broad dynamic range, I knew that shooting five exposures on my Nikon (-2 to +2EV) would give me everything I needed to get the viewer to focus on the center of the tulip.  Once I had the five shots I needed, it was off to Adobe Lightroom, Photomatix and Photoshop.  To process the shot, I left all my the center of the flower alone.  The only HDR tonemapping in this shot is in the center of the flower, which I blended into the final image using a layer mask in Photoshop.  I think I like the way this one turned out.

delicate beauty

The Getaway Car

•March 13, 2010 • 4 Comments

I find myself returning again and again to the abandoned sanatorium of Beelitz-Heilstätten, especially when I feel myself in a creative rut. If you can’t find a worth subject to capture at Beelitz, you’re just not looking. This morning, I only had about an hour t shoot, as I promised my wife I would be back before 9am. Of course that also meant up at 5am! I arrived at Beelitz about 20 minutes before sunrise, hoping to capture one of the buildings with a brilliant sunrise behind it. Unfortunately, it was dull day, and the sun remained obscured by a thick wall of gray sky. Once I had enough light to explore the woods without falling into an uncovered manhole or stepping on one of the many nails pocking out from under the leaves, I headed off to an area of the complex I had not explored before.

About 50 meters into the wood-line, I came across this old car and set up to capture it for HDR processing. I loved the contrast of the car’s color against the stark gray weather and buildings, and knew it would make for a nice shot. All I had to do was get the right composition, which was a bit tough given the tight quarters between the woodshed on the left, and the building on the right. As usual, the Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, set at 14mm, saved the day. Once I settled on the composition I wanted through the viewfinder, I set up the tripod, mounted the D700 and captured my primary 5 brackets (-2, -1, 0, +1 and +2 EV). As i had guessed, I found when I looked at the captures that the +2EV exposure did not give me enough details in the shadow areas. No problemo. I manually dialed in +3EV, took a shot, and then dialed in +4EV to take the final shot. Looking at the cameras Histogram, I saw I had what I needed and headed off to a nearby building to look for a new subject. Final shots (a total o f 7) used for this image covered the range of -2EV to +4EV.

The Getaway Car