Monday, June 29, 2009

Fun with HDR

This is my first HDR photo and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I wish my car looked this fierce in real life. The photo is a blend of the following 4 photos (click on photos for larger version):

Here's the 2 minute lesson on contrast and HDR:
Cameras have much less contrast range than the human eye. As you can see in the first 3 images above, the camera can't get the detail of a bright sky and a dark shadow in the same image like your eyes. Either the sky is too bright or the shadow is completely black (or somewhere in between). By taking one exposure for the sky, one for the shadow, and one for the midrange, I have now covered all the ranges in multiple images. These 3 exposures can then be blended together in Photoshop to get detail in all 3 exposure ranges. This is typically done for architecture photographers when they are photographing an indoor scene with a window. They take one exposure for the dark interior and one exposure for the window and blend them together.

The fourth photo is a pure HDR composite of the first three photos. HDR = high dynamic range. HDR is the multiple exposure concept on steroids. Programs such as Photomatix take these multiple exposures and blend them together with localized contrast that creates a gritty, moody feel to the photo. I took this HDR photo and blended it with the 3 multiple-exposure photos to get the final photo at the very top. Crazy, huh?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Public" Photography

I just read an article by Marc Fisher in the Washington Post dated June 21, 2007 ( The story was about an amateur photographer who tried to take some photos on Ellsworth St in downtown Silver Spring, MD. He was quickly confronted by security guards who told him that photography was not allowed along that section of Ellsworth. For those of you not familiar with Silver Spring, there is a stretch of Ellsworth that has been turned into an outdoor mall - this is the new downtown for Silver Spring. The county hired a company to maintain this shopping area. This company has a policy that no one can take any pictures of the area without their permission. Their argument is that the street is no longer public land and therefore they can enforce policies related to the pedestrians that walk through the area.

As I said, this article is two years old so I don't know if these policies are still in place. But it seems to me that if I am walking along a city street that was developed using county money I should not be liable for a private company's arbitrary regulations regarding the use of photography. This is not limited to Silver Spring. There are many movies currently being filmed in Washington DC. I have been near the set of two of these movies in the last week. Both movies were being filmed in public - one at the Mall and one on a city street. On both occasions I was told very clearly that I was not allowed to photograph the scene (To be clear, I am not part of the paparazzi. I was more interested in photographing the crew behind the scenes than in photographing Reese Witherspoon for US Weekly). I am very disappointed that individuals feel the right to restrict photography in public when this is a perfectly legal act.

Since when has taking photos in public turned in to such a heinous crime?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Street Photography

Here are some shots of street photography that were mostly done in Chinatown. The idea is to capture the mood and the people of the city in a candid manner. Notice the black & white effect for added coolness. (click on the image for a larger version)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

Here are a few photos taken near the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. The first two are of a chocolate lab owned by the gentleman that sells t-shirts just outside the garden. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Engagement photos in Ann Arbor, MI

Here are a few engagement photos that I shot back in May. Michigan has such natural beauty that it's a great place for photography. These photos were taken at Gallup Park and the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fun With Photoshop

This week we learned the basics of Photoshop at CDIA. While Lightroom is still my true love, I'm finding a place in my heart for Photoshop. One of the beautiful things about the program is the ability to make a composite of two images. The canals that run through Georgetown are lined with rock walls. I removed the center rock and inserted a different image below. This would be a fun way to add a rock "border" to traditional portraits:

Here are the original photos:

Friday, June 5, 2009

CDIA photos, volume 1

Welcome to the first ever post on Tony Richards Photoblog!

As many of you know, I am now a photography student at the Center For Digital Imaging Arts. The school began as a program at Boston University and now has a campus in Georgetown. Here are a few of my photos from the first two weeks of the program. The first assignments ranged in themes from faces to shadows to motion to color. Theoretically the quality of photos should improve dramatically over the next 8 months until I graduate. Knowing that I could have bought a new car for the price of tuition (maybe not a Land Rover, but definitely a Subaru), I better get something good out of this.