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I just finished the job photographing the Morean Art Center and three other buildings, including the Dale Chihuly Collection, the hot shop and their Clay Center. I want to share with you a few of the images that were shot at the Chihuly as they were all photographed using HDR. I had to photograph using HDR as the extreme contrast for the galleries were great; we had dark rooms with brightly lit colorful glass. I could have used tungsten lighting, but with the cost of the artwork and how delicate all the glass was I felt there was too much of a risk, plus using HDR allowed me to work very fast.

I use Photomatix Pro to process these images, their fusion conversion works very well for creating photorealistic architectural images. I was really impressed by the low noise that Photomatix produced and how easy it was to do the conversions and get the results that I was looking for.

The exterior photograph of the Morean Art Center is also an HDR image and was a seven-stop bracket. The window in the front left corner was actually covered up as they’re using that as gallery space, so I had to take a photograph of one of a different window and replace that into that window to add more interesting shot. There is also a lot of retouching in this photograph, the orange building on the left side lost two floors to give the art center more drama and some of the windows on the third floor were not lit so we had to replace those with other Windows and modify them so they looked different.

Lightroom – Part 2 Importing

This next installment in our Lightroom series we show you how to import your images into Lightroom and then rename, renumber and keyword your images.

Lightroom – Part 1 Getting Started

This video starts my new series on lightroom with talking about the most important part of Lightroom, Organization. This is the most confusing part of Lightroom for most people, but if you get it right when you start out it becomes one of the best part of it.

I want to take a few minutes and talk about Lightroom today as I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and students. I teach Lightroom workshops and also incorporate Lightroom into my HDR workshops along with my own workflow. It is one of the programs that saves me a lot of time and allows me to keep my images organize in a way that I can find a photo when I need it. In order for Lightroom to be useful and work properly, you have to start out right and organize your files.

The first thing you need to decide is where and how you are going to keep your files. Is it going to be on an external hard drive, on your main hard drive or on different drives in different locations? One of the other questions that need to be answered is whether you’re going to keep your camera format or are you going to change it over to Adobe’s DAG file format. When I first started out I use my camera’s format, but have found that using Adobe’s DNG file format has made my life a lot easier, instead of having two files for each image I now have only one. This is a personal choice, and sometimes scary when you first start using it, but in the long run I think you’ll find this easier.

In order for you to get started with Lightroom the first thing you need to do is set up one folder that will hold all your images. You may have subfolders inside your main folder that separates your raw files from processed layered Photoshop files and your HDR files like I do. Having all your images in one folder also allows you to duplicate that folder onto another hard drive that can mirror your main hard drive, so when it does fail, and it will fail at some point, you have another library that is exactly as the one you’ve been using.

I start by downloading my file in the camera’s native format onto my main hard drive from the CF card. I then will open up Lightroom and have it import and convert my images to Adobes DNG file format. After importing is completed I will then delete the folder with all the old camera native format images.

The first thing after importing I do is edit images and get rid of bad or duplicated photos, and rename all my images in the job system that I have set up. I will make sure my metadata is applied with the correct copyrights and contact information. I then apply keywords and also within the keywords the clients name this way if I have to do a search in Lightroom I have different ways of finding images that I am searching for.

One of the other things you have to realize with Lightroom is if you export an image from Lightroom it will not keep track of what you do with that exported image. This is a smart thing, as you don’t want duplicate images hanging all over your hard drive. This is an area that people do get confused about, they don’t know where that image is or why they can’t find it and that is because it has been exported. If you do work inside Lightroom and have edited the photo in Photoshop, Lightroom will keep track of that image, it is only when you export it from Lightroom that you’re on your own.

Over the next few weeks I will be doing some video tutorials to better explain Lightroom and how to get around it.

Lightroom HDR Adjustments

In this tutorial we will take three images that where processed in Photomatix Pro and adjust them in Lightroom to give the images a more finished look.

A few years ago a student asked me a question whether I thought he should buy expensive glass or spend more money on the camera. His instructor told him that he should buy the most expensive glass, as this would give him the best possible images. My response to him was by the equipment that you can afford to buy, but the best way to get good photographs and become a better photographer was to get out and photograph. We sometimes get so involved with our equipment, Photoshop and working on the computer that we forget to actually go out and make good images.

As I was teaching an HDR workshop this weekend and was out shooting with the students, I started talking about making sure you explore the area that you’re photographing. What I mean is just don’t point your camera at one area and assume that’s all there is, take a moment and look around and explore the area around the corner.

As it turned out I needed to take my own advice. I was showing the students how to do an HDR photograph manually with a seven stops; I was photographing in the locker room of the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club for this photo. I had taken a couple other shots in this building and thought I had covered everything that I wanted, but as it turned out I was sadly mistaken. One of my students had set up a camera in the bathroom that I had not even taken a look at, as I was showing him how to shoot the HDR photograph manually I realized that this was the shot for this building.

Now a shot in the bathroom is not something I’d normally photograph, but this particular bathroom had a lot of character and as an HDR image I knew I could bring that character out. I have found out that while I teach other people to photograph I also learned a lot from them and sometimes see things from her point of view that I normally wouldn’t. So in the end I guess I need to take my own advice and explore around the corner for an image that I might’ve missed. I think looking around the corner is good advice for taking a photo, or for living your life and see more of the world.