Air Expo 2014 – Pin Up Shoot

Last weekend I went to the Air Expo at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, MN to shoot vintage planes on the ground and in the air. I also had an awesome and unexpected opportunity to shoot a pin up model shoot with the vintage airplanes after the show. How exciting to take photos of these gals with a TBM Avenger, Corsair and B-17.

I will be sharing each of the models here who all did a fantastic job. Also this was the first time doing a model shoot like this so I was thankful to be able to learn from the other great photographers and see how they work.

If this isn’t your sort of thing I understand but everyone had a great time and felt like they put their best out there. Many of the woman were first time models and embraced the shoot and really did most of the hard work climbing around on the planes.

Let’s start with Dee Marie! See the full gallery here.

Pin Up Model, TBM Avenger, Planes and Pin Ups, Pinup, Dee Marie, Pin-Up, Vintage Model, Vintage Airplane, World War 2 Airplane and girl

The Avenger


Pin Up Model, TBM Avenger, Planes and Pin Ups, Pinup, Dee Marie, Pin-Up, Vintage Model, Vintage Airplane, World War 2 Airplane and girl

I think she saw me.

Queen of the Sky

Pin Up Model, TBM Avenger, Planes and Pin Ups, Pinup, Dee Marie, Pin-Up, Vintage Model, Vintage Airplane, World War 2 Airplane and girl

Looks like something from a James Cameron movie.

To see more go here Air Expo 2014 – Planes and Pinups.

2014 MLB All-Star Game

The MLB All-Star Game is in Minneapolis and half the city is lit up making for some interesting shots. Here’s a couple from around town. These are not normally lit so it’s nice to get some unique shots.

See the gallery here 2014 MLB All-Star Game.

Gold Medal Flour, All-Star Gala, MLB All-Star Game

Gold Medal Flour lit for the All-Star Game.

Gold Medal Flour lit for the All-Star Gala after the Home Run Derby on Monday night.

The Stone Arch Bridge lit for the All-Star Game.

Here the Stone Arch Bridge is lit in yellow. I’ve never seen the bridge lit like this so it was really cool to see. This was on Sunday night as they were testing the lights. You can see part of the projection missed the bridge and is displayed on the Lock & Dam area behind it.

See more here 2014 MLB All-Star Game.

Girls of Comic Con Minneapolis

Well as promised here are the girls of the Wizard World 2014 Minneapolis Comic Con. Enjoy and see more from the convention here!


Wizard World 2014 Minneapolis Comic Con, Girls of Comic Con, Comic Con Cosplay, Comic Con Costume, Phoenix Costume

Phoenix (I believe)

Most people didn’t mind getting into character.

Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014, girls of comic con, Supergirl costume, Comic Con Cosplay

Supergirl and ?

Here’s Supergirl and her trashy friend ;) I could be wrong but I think they liked the attention.

Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014, girls of comic con, Kitty costume, Comic Con Cosplay

Some sort of kitty costume…

Here’s a kitty costume. If anybody knows what characters these are drop a line in the comments please.

Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014, Booth Girls of Comic Con, Comic Con Cosplay

Booth Girls

Here’s a couple booth girls. Not sure what they were selling…maybe just the photos in the foreground. I need to ask more questions I think :)

Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014, Girls of Comic Con, Where's Waldo costume, Comic Con Cosplay

Where’s Walda?

And finally you may be wondering why there’s a dude in this. Well there’s actually a girl in a Where’s Waldo costume. I’ll wait till you find her….okay didn’t take too long. Apparently Waldo couldn’t find her pants either. Oh and who knew that Waldo and Freddy Krueger in the back dress nearly exactly alike?

For more girls and seriously awesome costumes from the Wizard World 2014 Minneapolis Comic Con go here!

Guys of Comic Con

Back with more Minneapolis Comic Con. These guys really took the whole cosplay thing to heart. Next up, of course, we need to have a girls of comic con :) See the rest of the gallery here Minneapolis Comic Con .


Minneapolis Comic Con 2014, cosplay comic con, Inspector Gadget costume

Inspector Gadget floating around the Minneapolis Convention Center and navigating between drunk people.

These guys were really shy about having their picture taken (sarcasm).

MInneapolis Comic Con 2014, Comic Con Cosplay, Street Fighter costume, Street Fighter Cosplay


I think he had been drinking…

Minneapolis Comic Con 2014, Comic Con Cosplay, Captain Jack Sparrow costume, Captain Jack Sparrow Cosplay

Captain Jack Sparrow

Tony Stark/Iron Man and friend (?) it was nice having people actually get into character and pose for these.

Minneapolis Comic Con 2014, Comic Con Cosplay, Iron Man costume, Iron Man cosplay

Iron Man and blue/orange guy.

Once again here’s the rest of the gallery Minneapolis Comic Con .

Star Wars at Minneapolis Comic Con 2014

At any comic con there are going to be a number of Star Wars characters from stormtroopers to slave Leia. You might even see a wookie or a sith lord.  Here are some of my favorites from the Wizard World Comic Con in Minneapolis 2014.

Check out all the superhero, movie and a few more Star Wars costumes in the Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con gallery!

Princess Leia Cosplay, Princess Leia Costume, Princess Leia Comic Con

A New Hope – Leia

Princess Leia above in her pure white to slave Leia below. Hanging out with Robin for some reason?!?

Princess Leia Slave Costume, Princess Leia Slave Cosplay, Princess Leia jabba the hutt costume, Star Wars Cosplay

Slave Leia

Even Jedi Knights get photobombed at comic con!

Star Wars Cosplay, Star Wars Costumes, Jedi Knight costumes, Star Wars photobomb, Star Wars Comic Con

Knights of the Photobomb

Master and apprentice checking out the wares in some seedy marketplace in the Outer Rim I suspect.

Jedi Knight Cosplay, Jedi Knight costumes, Star Wars Cosplay, Minneapolis Comic Con 2014

Jedi Knights at the marketplace.

And finally an Imperial Guard and a Scout Trooper. I’m not sure I’d bring either to a fight. The guards are always asked to leave and the scout trooper has trouble with teddy bears ;) Awesome costumes though!

Star Wars Cosplay, Star Wars Costumes, Imperial Guard costume, Scout Trooper Costume, Star Wars Comic Con Minneapolis 2014

Imperial Guard and Scout Trooper

Wizard World Comic Con Minneapolis 2014

Went to Comic Con this weekend. Was definitely different than the usual cityscapes, landscapes and architecture I normally do. Actually a great way to overcome any fear about taking photos of people. Most were more than happy to strike a pose.

Check out the full Wizard World Comic Con Minneapolis 2014!

Clone Trooper Costume, Star Wars Cosplay, Commander Cody Costume, Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014

Commander Cody executing Order Sixty-Five…not quite as exciting as Order Sixty-Six.

Storm Costume, Supergirl Costume, Spiderman Costume, Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014, Superhero Cosplay

Storm, Supergirl and Spiderman at Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014.

Stormtrooper costume, Star Wars Cosplay, Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014

Stormtrooper…a must at any comic con.

Street Fighter costumes, Street Fighter Cosplay, Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con 2014

The Street Fighter gang. Round One…Fight!

Fixing HDR Reverse Halos in Photomatix

Halos around objects in HDR photographs have been a problem seemingly since the start of HDR. We often see halos (bright areas) around trees and buildings especially against a blue sky or any smooth gradient. I’ve noticed with Photomatix 5, especially using the Contrast Optimizer tool, that there are reverse halos. Mainly dark areas in the sky where in the past there might have been a halo. This used to be present in previous versions but most images were more apt to show bright halos rather than dark halos or maybe a better term would be smudges.

Photomatix 5, Contrast Optimizer, Reverse HDR Halo, HDR dark smudge

Dark smudge from Contrast Optimizer in Photomatix 5.

You can see dark smudging in the teal part and also smudging in the blue sky. The Contrast Optimizer preset is awesome but can cause these artifacts due to the extreme settings.

To minimize this you can turn the Strength slider down to 70 and the Lighting Effect slider to 70 as well. You still get a vibrant scene but with less artifacts. You still have the option of adding more Clarity in Lightroom, tweaking in Color Efex Pro or choose your favorite program for more targeted local contrast enhancements.

Contrast Optimizer, Strength slider, Lighting slider, Photomatix settings, fix smudges in Photomatix

Changed the Contrast Optimizer settings of Strength and Lighting to 70.

Notice the smudges are mostly gone. Some people may not have a problem with these artifacts at small sizes. If you print at larger sizes or use as desktop wallpaper these artifacts can become really noticeable and distracting.

In the future I’ll show how you can use the radial filter in Lightroom to minimize halos and also a layer blending technique to remove it altogether.

Blood Moon Shoot

It was fun and challenging trying to get a good shot of the 1st lunar eclipse of 2014. If you missed it there will be another total eclipse in October viewable from North America.

Normally when shooting the moon in the middle of the night it is difficult to expose for the moon and the surroundings unless they are very bright. In the case of the eclipse, also know affectionately as the “blood moon” for it’s reddish appearance, the moon was very faint while the surroundings were bright at least in an urban environment.

I was using a 70-400mm lens and I can tell you the moon moves very fast through the frame at that focal length. Normally I like to shoot the moon at 1/100th of a second or faster. In the case of the eclipse I found myself at close to 1 second to 4 seconds at the height of the eclipse. In fact if you didn’t know there was an eclipse you might not realize the moon was even out it was so dim.

blood moon 2014, lunar eclipse april 2014, cathedral of saint paul eclipse, moon photography, minnesota lunar eclipse

Blood moon over the cross on the Cathedral of Saint Paul.

2.5 sec f/5.6 ISO 800 (above)

Later in the night I headed to Minneapolis to see what I could find. At a 90mm focal length vs. 400mm in the previous photo the moon isn’t moving quite so fast through the frame. I was surprised an 8 second exposure was as crisp as it was. Without the 8 seconds I wouldn’t have gotten the cloud movement with the neon sign.

Gold Medal Flour, MInneapolis blood moon, blood moon april 2014, lunar eclipse april 2014, lunar eclipse minneapolis, lunar eclipse minnesota, blood moon minnesota

Under a blood red sky.

8 sec f/11 ISO 800 (above)

In either case I made a lot of adjustments in Lightroom and some in Photoshop. Mainly selective exposure and sharpening adjustments. The clarity slider in Lightroom 5 is a wonderful thing especially when combined with a radial filter.

Only 6 months till the next blood moon! You can get more info about the April 2014 eclipse at

We have cows…and barns.

A quick post tonight on my exciting weekend. Well nothing crazy but I did roam the Wisconsin countryside checking out Rustic Roads and a few barns and a curious cow or two. A few weeks and the Rustic Roads will green up a bit. Check out the Rustic Road map if you’re in Wisconsin.

Here’s a shot from Saturday with some Nik Color Efex glamour glow, detail enhancer and warmth for good effect.

Wisconsin Barns, Cow Farm, Silo, Wisconsin countryside

Cows and Barns in Wisconsin

The End of HDR?

Have we finally reached the end of HDR photography? It seems like we just got started. I will say both yes we’re almost there and no we’ve just begun.

Let me explain what HDR is and what it really is. HDR is high dynamic range imagery which most people know by now. Most people think of HDR as taking several shots (bracketing) at different exposures and combining in software like Photomatix or HDR Efex Pro. This extends the dynamic range of the scene that might otherwise not be possible.

What HDR is today really has more to do with a creative effect that adds local contrast/tone mapping. Often times people take what really is a medium or even low dynamic range scene and process through HDR software to achieve an eye-popping (good or bad) scene. It’s not so much about the dynamic ranges as it is about creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary.

What about those high dynamic range scenes? Funny enough those scenes still are difficult for HDR software to render realistically. Exposure fusion does a good job but tone mapping operations create a number of issues that often give HDR  a bad reputation. What will really make HDR go away is the sensor technology that continues to improve.

Sony just announced the A7s (sensitivity) as another model to go with the A7 (an all around performer) and A7r (resolution) for those that require high megapixel counts. See the A7s features here. The A7s sensitivity ranges from ISO 50 to ISO 409,600! No doubt the usable ISO will be lower but even if it is ISO 50,200 or ISO 102,400 that is still quite a step forward. Time will tell but no doubt the sensitivity is increasing along with the dynamic range of the sensors.  I currently use the Sony A99 and only the most demanding scenes require HDR bracketing.

This sunrise is a single image processed in Lightroom and Nik’s Color Efex Pro. There was enough dynamic range caught by the Sony A99 to work with graduated filters in Lightroom and use Color Efex Pros detail enhancer, glamour glow and tonal contrasts to achieve a HDR look.

single image HDR, end of hdr, sunrise hdr, high dynamic range scene

HDR without HDR bracketing

What people really see as HDR today is the local contrast enhancements that can be made by Color Efex Pro, Topaz Clarity or even the clarity slider in Lightroom. Heck even smartphones have HDR processing and apps like Snapseed do an admirable to really good job with cell phone images.

HDR in terms of dynamic range is really becoming a thing of the past. HDR is now more a creative effect. Some may have already realized this but I continue to see people say “it’s not HDR it’s a single image”. If you’re adding clarity, local contrast, tone mapping or whatever you want to call it you are doing HDR as we know it today.

HDR is over but here to stay :)





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