February 16, 2012

HDR Collaboration: Little Things

Yes folks, it is time for another friendly HDR Collaboration. What? You’ve never heard of it? Well let me explain.

Every couple of weeks, a group of us HDR Photographers are challenged by one in the group to crush a single set of brackets. The host (that’s me, this round) provides the image and everyone applies his own processing technique.

I thought I would entertain my guests with one of my shots from Bolton-Emerson Americas, my longest running series. Having shot there for over a year, I thought it would be interesting to see how it can be interpreted by artists who are not so close to it. Be sure to click on each image for a bigger version and please do yourself a favor and click through to my friends’ sites.

So, without further ado. Here is “Little Things:


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My approach to the 60 or so HDR images from this series has been pretty straightforward. This image is no different from any other in the Bolton-Emerson Americas series. I think this is a good baseline to use for comparison to what my friends have have done with this scene.


Rob Hanson:

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Wow! Fantastic brackets, Bob. Thanks so much for offering these up.

I found that I didn’t want to do anything to the composition itself, so my contribution keeps all of the original information — no straightening or cropping applied. I tried a few cut variations, but I guess you can’t change something that already seems perfect.

Most of my efforts went into making crisp details on all the Little Things, and to diminishing the visual pull of the background without occluding it completely. My eye found a lot to look at throughout the scene, so I didn’t want to occlude the peripheral areas. I found that just a bit of darkening in those areas kept most of the details intact, but not distracting.

My favorite bit (pun intended) is on the far right, where the chuck key is stored in the drill chuck. There’s something so architectural about that one piece, but then again, there are hundreds of interesting Little Things to be seen throughout this composition. Let the eye wander, I say!


Mark Gvazdinskas:

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This was a very fun set to work on and it certainly got me through a travel day with two lengthy layovers! Thanks a ton for sharing, Bob–what a unique subject and the composition was terrific with the leading lines. All provided brackets went through Photomatix Pro for tonemapping. I used several onOne Perfect Effects filters including Brownie, Subtle Brick and Rice Paper Light textures, Warm Fuzzy, Urban Sickness, Cyberpunk and Amazing Detail. After layering here and there this went into Nik’s Viveza 2 for a bit of structure, followed by onOne’s Focal Point 2 for a little blur. Finally a couple dodge and burn brushes in Lightroom 4 Beta to add vignetting–all and all a very fun edit while people watching and listening to The XX vs. Notorious BIG.

Thanks again, Bob!


Jim Denham:

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Thanks to Bob for serving up another great set of brackets and hosting this week. I really liked the light coming in from the windows and wanted to accent it and what it was illuminating in the frame and take attention away from the areas it was not. Applying an s-curve for contrast and burning the shadow area a bit seemed to do the trick, then added a slight blur to the windows and shadow area to further de-emphasize them. A couple of presets from Perfect Effects were applied to bring out texture and detail, as well as set the mood. Great set Bob and thanks for letting us play along!


Jacques Gude:

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Bob had me with “Bolton Emerson Americas”.  Even though I had not yet even peeked at the brackets he had uploaded for us to crush, I knew I was in for a treat, having consistently been blown away by his previous postings of shots from that venue.  I was actually sitting in a Starbucks when I opened up the brackets to take a look; I must have been using my “outside voice” in my excitement, as several peeps were giving me the eye.  Heck called Bob up to let him know that they rocked, keeping him on the phone as I ran the brackets through Photomatix (Sorry, Bob!), before saving the resulting tonemapped file off to work on at the weekend.  Come Saturday evening, I did my best to do this shot justice.  I just loved the little bits and pieces throughout the frame, all begging me to stop and stare.  I finished it off mere moments before a several hour power outage in my neck of the woods, unable to upload my vision of the scene to Dropbox until after the power (and the internet) came back up. Bob, you da man!  Thanks for sharing this with us!


Mike (TheaterWiz) Criswell:

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First off thanks for hosting the round Bob, I know it can be tedious putting together all these shots. As for the brackets, what a cool set, I was a little set back at first because I did not know how I wanted this to end up, then it hit me, the title, Little Things, I wanted to highlight this real detailed work area from this classic place. I used all the brackets you provided and ran them through the usual Photomatix routine. The look I wanted in my mind was a darker scene, so the windows, or most of them had to go for me, so I used a little lens correction and crop to get the scene where I wanted it.

After the scene was set I used a mixture of Topaz, to bring out all those “Little Things” details then  added a midnight filter from NIK blended to my liking. I then threw the image into OnOne and added some amazing detail, grunge glow and finished it off with some selective LAB sharpening. Thanks again for the great set!


Mark Garbowski:

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What a fun challenge. With so many details to choose from, I chose to simplify and focus. Literally.
I’ve been working a lot with film lately, and choice between black and white and color is always on my mind as a result. I thought that going black and white (actually monochrome with a slightly blue/red cast) would reduce distractions.  Then I looked at the scene as if I were a workman approaching the bench looking for a certain tool or piece. I thought how confusing it can be, even for someone who has worked there for years and knows this scene well. How do you put your hand on exactly what you want? And then I thought, focus just on what you need, and ignore all the rest, and I knew what to do.


Scott Fredrick:

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I decided to finish it off with onOne’s Focal Point.  This helped add the direction and mood I was hoping for with my version.  Thank you for supplying this great set my friend!

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  1. Pingback: Coney Island Color - Winter 2012 - Surf Avenue - Too Much Glass » Too Much Glass

  2. Wow you guys are really awesome. I love to to see how you each approach your brackets during the HDR Collaboration. You certainly didn’t disappoint. Fabulous end results.

  3. Sweet work from everyone, loved this set, thanks Bob, would have commented earlier but
    Travel day today