Entries in HDR (101)
My commercial photography work for the Courtyard Marriott in downtown St. Petersburg continues with an exterior and interior shoot of the hotel itself (see commercial wedding shoot). This job spanned mutliple days because day and evening exterior shots were desired by the client. The HDR sunset shot of the hotel exterior at dusk was the very last shot to make.
Formerly the Pennsylvania Hotel, the now Courtyard Marriott has a nearly 100-year old history. The lobby retains the most of the original features of the hotel including the crown molding and tile flooring along with the marble wall accents.
No matter how wide of a lens you have, photographing rooms, in particular hotel rooms, is still challenging as it is ideal to show as many features of the room in a single shot. The challenge lies in the fact that not all these room features tend to line up in a neat row. You can of course stitch multiple shots together, but then that would not look natural. For a viewer to know this is a suite room, the bedroom and separate living space needed to be shown in the same shot.
Here is a tip for pool photography, never show the whole pool in the shot in order to strategically leave the entire size of the pool to the viewer's imagination. This is of course unless a hotel has an olympic size swimming pool they want to show off!
As you can see with all the above interior shots, I shot into a corner of the room which gives an image depth and dimension. Very rarely is it best to shoot straight at a flat wall. Shooting into a corner often naturally shows the most of an interior space anyway.
The appearance of any new piece of architecture within a photographer's city is an opportunity to create a defining shot of it. I am far from the first local photographer to make photos of the new Salvador Dali Museum here in St. Petersburg, Florida, and even farther from producing the defining shot. Moris Moreno has already made those shots (view here). When I did a search to see what photos of the museum already existed, finding and viewing Moreno's shots were humbling.
I finally photographed the new Dali Museum mostly because a commercial client wanted a shot of it to use for cross promotional purposes. They required only a single shot which is the above. I then went back on another occasion to use the museum grounds as the site of a DSLR Photography Lesson and made a few more shots during that time.
The above shot represents the culmination of all my HDR shooting skills, plus my increasing use of masking. I will describe this editing technique in detail in an upcoming post. It also helps now that I am using a professional level tripod, an Induro CT214 with Induro BDH2 ballhead. Again, a review of those sticks will be coming soon.
The main architectural flair of the museum exterior is a so-called waterfall of glass flowing narrowly from the east facing roof of the building to a wider flow along ground level wrapping around the north side. Using an HDR technique to photograph the triangular glass panels up close allows for being able to see inside the glass while keeping the sky correctly exposed.
I always liked the Mahaffey Theater's glass architecture feature, and now it is complemented with the glass waterfall of the Dali Museum. The buildings are not exactly in a popular area of downtown St. Petersburg, more on the outskirts of it. The only times I passed this area in the past were on exploratory cycling trips. The roads are wide, smooth and empty in this area, great for cycling.
The grounds of the museum before the glass waterfall contain a well landscaped garden inlcuding a melting time bench reminding one that they are still in the world of Dali. It is details like that, an extra expense no doubt, that add a lot to the visiting experience. I did not sit on the bench myself, for time already moves in strange ways for me. I did not want to risk any further altered perceptions.
Another great feature of the Dali garden was a tree adorned with long green streamers to which people afixed handwritten notes with clothespins. Some just tied their entrance wristbands to the streamers. Whoever thought of this came up with a really great idea to give a visitor a sense of what other people experienced and felt on their visits. No matter how good digital communication gets, the power of the handwritten note/letter/document just cannot be denied. Penmanship is just as much a representation of a person's character as anything else. When I formally go to the museum as a visitor, I will take the time to add my own handwritten remembrence.
I have been starting to miss mountains the past few weeks. I watched every stage of the 2011 Tour de France as the riders first went over the Pyrenees and then the Alps. The helicopter views of the French countryside were often as stunning as the cycling action. With the option to make landscapes of mountains and architecture shots of old castles, I was thinking, "Florida really has nothing in comparison."
Well, Florida has almost nothing. Here we do have near daily dramatic sunsets and stormy skies. Each twilight brings a slightly different cloud pattern, sky color and reflection over Tampa Bay (if looking east from The Pier as in the above photo).
Still, once one lives around mountains, it is hard to forget them. I imagine it is the same for living by the Sea. Perhaps the combination of mountains and sea are why so many songs are written about California.
- View more sky photographs
- Reserve your own 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with Jason today!
- Read Jason's photography tips
Long ago when I was a USF (Tampa campus) student I came to meet someone who lived in Gulfport. I remember going to visit her from the North Tampa area seemed like a tremendous journey to a different land. For the life of me I would not be able to remember her neighborhood now, but every now and then when I still, infrequently, visit Gulfport small flashes of those past days leave a trace image in my mind. I can say for sure though that I had never been to Bo-Tiki before last week as the unique shop makes a strong impression on visitors.
The ladies working inside Bo-Tiki were very friendly and quick to laugh. I asked the owner, Maddy (on right), to hold up her current favorite item in her boutique to help her feel more at ease about her portrait being taken. I think it worked. Whenever possible I like to get clients to hold one of their products for a commercial photography type portrait.
I think I will return to Bo-Tiki later this year as a customer looking for a Christmas present for my mom. I might pick up one of those old-time Gulfport signs for myself as well!
During a DSLR photography lesson yesterday morning the student remarked that she liked St. Petersburg so much because of its old and historic buildings. Coincidentally, I was assigned that afternoon to go photograph the Peninsula Inn & Spa in the Gulfport area of St. Pete. The inn is described as having British Colonial decor with a flare of exotic Bali, which can be seen in the above image of the Governor's Room. I certainly expected to see someone like Hemingway huddled in a corner scribbling away while taking bites of some long ago ordered sandwich.
The staff was very friendly and excited to talk about the history of the inn. The Six Tables room (three of which can be seen above) offers an exclusive dining experience with some of the highest rated food in the area I was told. Again, this room had a certain mysterious feeling to it, definitely not the kind of atmosphere one finds in any chain restaurant! I imagine eating in here would feel like eating in a museum or some Duke's castle in the English countryside.
The wide veranda surrounding the inn offers another dining experience more reminiscent of Bali (and my experiences in SE Asia) with its tropical foliage at arm's reach from the tables. It is just too bad that smoking is allowed on the veranda.
I used a combination of HDR shots and long exposures to photograph the various rooms of the inn. For the bar photograph above I used HDR since there was pretty good ambient light. For the dimly lit rooms like the Six Tables, the exposure on the long end of the bracket for an HDR shot would not be practical so I just used a single long exposure instead.
The architectural character and personable and knowledgeable staff I imagine would make for a great stay at the inn for people visiting from out of state or even out of town.