Old photo of Old Montreal revised

Double tone map action

As the title implies, you first process a 3 exposure tone map image as you would normally do for an HDR. Then you would process it again. To do this prior to version 5 of photomatix you would need to just press tone map again after processing the image. Now with the new version there is a button for that “Double tone map”. This brings out greater textures and makes it look a bit surreal. I would advice using it lightly and only on architectural/heavy textured shots.

Old Montreal in the rain

Here is one of my first photos when I just began taking photos about 2 years ago. It was a rainy day and I was excited to take pictures with my new camera and see how they develop in this weather. Turns out HDR works quite well, giving the type of textures and mood that I was looking for.

Fast track about 1 year later and I just had to see what it would look like given the techniques that I know now.

old montreal hdr

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Tied up

I’ve captured this one night by the old port as the big merchant ships where docked right next to the walkway. The walkway is open for pedestrians to pass through but if you’d like to capture a different angle, well that requires a bit of ingenuity.

Ship anchored

Keeping it Fresh

Finding the right angle

What I find it’s come down to, especially when shooting in the city where many people shoot, you must find something unique and interesting to differentiate. It’s not an easy task but a fun one! Take into account the light of day, the angle of the shoot and anything moving. When you combine the three you are sure to have something different than the usual.

From the top

This was shot at one of the most popular public destinations in New York, the Empire State building. The lineups and journey up are a little long but if it’s your first time, worth it. At the ticketing checkpoint, they do not allow tripods to be taken up. First I was a bit surprised but as we got up I started to understand why. You could barely move through the sea of people making 86th floor a total mob scene. Luckily I was able to squeeze into a couple of spots and take a few shots. Total time spent at the top 5min! If you go I suggest opting for a different time slot, when there is not as much traffic.

New York looking down

Week of celebrations

Processing night scenes

You’ll notice that as you combine your 3 exposures in photomatix, the saturation is greatly increased and people start to look more like ghosts since it’s a longer exposure than day shooting. Two easy fixes for that. Select “remove ghosts” (I suggest with ‘the selective deghosting tool’) from the menu before processing. After the process simply decrease the color saturation and you’ll start seeing more details.

Happy 4th of July to my friends down south

This is actually a picture I took on the first of July, here we call it Canada day. But the mood is all the same. Everyone is out celebrating and having fun. Don’t be fooled by the picture, we don’t actually have real beaches in Montreal.

Night beach montreal

Some unexpected places

A lot of times I go out shooting not knowing where I’ll end up. I’ll have an idea of a place I’d like to visit but from there on forward any area to explore is fair game. In this case I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful and quite this hidden part of Montreal was. Truly one of the hidden gems of a rising metropolis.

sunset by the water

Happy Canada Day

Accelerate your work flow in Photoshop

Instead of starting over from scratch to create each effect independently, I like to use Photoshop actions. I have created a series specifically for post HDR sharpening and another one to take off the noise. This significantly reduces my workflow to just about minutes. Ofcourse I do some individual touch ups afterwards but that’s cake.

Canada’s roots in the old port

The old port is one of the oldest parts of Montreal so it comes as no surprise that you can witness the architecture left here by the French. Only wish they hadn’t stopped at the old port. Can you image Paris’ beauty on our streets?

Old Montreal

Heat warning over Montreal

Turn all files to HDR at once

Sometimes I like to see what all my photos in a series look like in HDR. For this I use “Batch Bracketed photos” function in the left panel when you launch Photomatix. Two things I set:

1- ‘Tone map and Details Enhancer’ click and select your favorite preset (I use my own), this will be applied to all images.

2- ‘Select Folder’ choose the folder your files are in but make sure it’s only the sequential bracketed files (remember -2,0,+2) as it will process through 3 at a time. Then the proceeding three and so on.

Click run, sit back and relax. You may want to get some coffee in the meantime as depending on the folder size it could take a while.

A bit of water to help cool things down

As I sit typing this with my AC at full blast, it is a nice change to have the heat back. Besides the obvious vitamin D boost, the heat is great for some scenic sunsets. And so here is a panorama from the Lachine Canal here in the west.

Heatwave in Montreal

Between two rocks, Luck prevails

St-Lucia

I wanted a family vacation that would be different from the usual Caribbean hot spots and so St-Lucia came into the picture. As the airplane was landing, I can already begin to feel a bit excited. The landscape is so foreign to what I’ve seen before. A lot of mountains, lush tropical trees and views of prehistoric land. Almost felt as if I was in Jurassic park for a moment. So we took the bus about an hour’s drive to the top of the island, where my resort was located. The roads on the way, where something else! But I’ll get in to it a bit later.. For now all that matters was the great views from the upgrade room and the great food at Captain Morgan’s restaurant.

Captain Morgan’s pier

The restaurant is quite a lovely with a great views over the waters towards the capital of the city, Castries. As I was dinning and reaching into my pocket for my phone, I could hear the clink clank of my room safe key as it fell between the cracks and unto what I thought was the last I’ll see of it. I motioned towards the attendant and told him what had happened. He said he would take care of it that they’ve installed a base just for that reason.

Well I couldn’t wait, I had to go down for myself and try to find it in the pitch darkness. Surely couldn’t be any harder than using my phone’s flashlight. As I started to inch my way towards the spot and trying to stay inconspicuous so know one would know.. I hear from the level on top “Excuse me sir”. I look up and one of the server’s tells me that the attendant had already found it and brought it back to my room.

Later when I came back to thank the attendant, he told me the key was hanging between two rocks!

Morgan's pier st-lucia

Reaching for the sun

HDR tutorial is finally out

I’ve been asked for a while now about how to create HDR and so I though I would put something together to help you guys get started. This is just the first installment, I will be adding more great tutorials in the future. What would you like to learn more about? Comment below.

This was taken at a park near where I live in Montreal West. I didn’t plan on making this shot. Wish I could say it was a vision that came to me one day but it just happened by opportunity. Like most of my photographs, they are shot moment by moment. This was taken a few days prior to spring. You can see the thick layer of ice encompassing the soil, that is not unusual. As I am typing now, the heat is pretty unbearable. This is what makes Montreal such a fun place to shoot, unpredictable weather.

Frozen path

Chilling on the Oratory

For this first day of summer I was able to capture this half way up St-Joseph Oratory. I was surprised at the amount of people and the diversity of cultures passing and having a good time on the steps its steps. But even more so the conditions where just about perfect this time around. The sky was filled with clouds, sun rays peering through and then as the evening turned into night the colors started to come out. You could see the reds, oranges and pinks in the skies. Great end to the first day of summer.

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St-Joseph Oratory print