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For the past three years I’ve been going to the rodeo to take pictures. Up until then I don’t REMEMBER the last rodeo I ever attended, though I’m sure there must have been one or two along the way. So two summers ago, on a flyer, I ran over to the Hamel Rodeo with some friends. We had a great time, both at the rodeo and the rodeo after party. I couldn’t make Hamel last year so I caught the Pine City Rodeo in September. Again, just an amazingly fun time. Last Friday evening I headed out to Buffalo for their rodeo and once again had a great time. Funny thing, though. People give me a strange look when I tell them how much I love going. Then they ask why I enjoy it so much and I’m usually at a loss for words. So I’ve given it some thought and decided to share the list here.
10. Pretty Girls - Its a cliche, I’m a cliche. Too bad. Its true;
9. Eating hotdogs from a scout troop concession stand run by a guy who was born, raised and started his family right there in Buffalo. That somehow had meaning for me;
8. The animals. They are large beasts, magnificent and dangerous. I actually have a tinge of dislike for how they are treated in a rodeo, but not enough to stop me from enjoying the event;
7. Everyone is Friendly – you just need to experience this. My words can not do it justice, but its great to experience.
6. Family – its great to see kids and parents alike get all dressed up and hang out together doing something so simple. I enjoy even more the image of a son and his elderly father, probably a war vet, sitting in the stand sharing a hotdog and beer in a plastic cup;
5. Dirt – its expected that you’ll walk away with a decent amount of dirt and mud on your boots and jeans. I like that. A rodeo is a license to play like a little kid again;
4. Boots and Jeans – they just go together so well. See #10.
3. Rules – I like a good public event. It provides all sorts of challenges that are right up my alley. “Don’t cross this line!” “Stay off the fence!” “You need a wrist band to enter” Yeah right. Good ones. Haahaaaahaa;
2. Taking pictures. Duh.
1. Sense of Nostalgia – connect with your inner cowboy. We all have it – its in our DNA.
I ventured down to Santa Monica pier on the last evening of my visit to Los Angeles hoping to photograph the ferris wheel, but was not happy with the lights on the wheel nor the amount of activity. It was Monday evening, cool and slow at the pier. I decided to move on and practice some HDR shots. These are definitely in the more extreme range for what I would typically produce, but thought it worked well with the subject matter.
I’m including a screen shoot of the settings I used in Photomatix as a starting point and in all images I was using 3 stop brackets. Anyone doing HDR must recognize that Photomatix is truly just a starting point and that all the finishing work must occur in Photoshop or Lightroom, etc. (click on image to see larger view). In Photoshop, I did all color work using Lab Mode and did selective sharpening using a High Pass Filter at amount = 20 and layer set to soft light blending mode.
Here’s the set of finished images. Hope you enjoy.
Today I’m sharing some images I shot recently of the state capital. I’m separating them into 3 groups to discuss broad level shooting/editing approaches to each group. Hope you enjoy the images:
Group 1: HDR – this group of interiors was pure HDR work. Each image was processed with the HDR feature (vs. Exposure Fusion) in Photomatix using 3 files separated by two stops. I shot them in aperture priority, set the camera to shoot 2 stop brackets. In all cases I was shooting with my canon 16-35mm lens, tungsten white balance. In all three cases I edited in Lab color mode to expedite the color correction process and to give me more control over color correction.
Group 2: Shooting to the right and use of the Gradient Map – More and more often I’m shooting to the right of the histogram, or over exposing to the point that I don’t have any true blacks. I’m doing this in the studio, in landscapes, and elsewhere. I use the Raw Converter to pull back true blacks with the Blacks slider and make a few other minor adjustments (recovery and brightness being the two biggies), resulting in what I consider to be better looking digital files from the start. This makes sense, given the knowledge that there is more good data in highlights than in shadows in a digital file. I then used a two gradient maps: the first set to a black and white gradient with the adjustment layer set to a softlight blending mode. I then used a second black and white gradient map left to normal blending mode. Why this instead of a black and white adjustment layer? Good question and the fine points are certainly debatable. Mostly I like what the black and white gradient map does right out of the gate, especially on SKIN TONES, not featured in this post obviously, but in upcoming posts. Play with it. If you like it, great. If you don’t, great.
Group 3: HDR and Gradient Map – These last two images are a combination of HDR work and Gradient Map processing, all discussed above.