St. Petersburg Florida Silhouette Dusk Twilight Fine Art Landscape Cityscape Waterfront

The downtown St. Petersburg Florida waterfront in Silhouette at vivd dusk - Nikon D300 Nikkor 50mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/200th handheld

This was an image I made quickly while taking Kiki for an extended walk around the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront on a recent Saturday evening.  I was traveling light, just my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens on my Nikon D300, but even with that lens on was still looking for a possible landscape shot.  With Kiki always in constant motion and having no tripod, I knew my best bet of getting a usable shot was to go for a silhouette of the skyline, which is done by using a fast shutter speed I could easily handhold, even with Kiki always trying to sniff something just out of reach.  The fast shutter speed exposed the bright sky well, but put the foreground buildings and boat into silhouette.  

Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera HDR in black at Tampa International Jet Center

A black Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera at Tampa International Airport - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 9-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseThe Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera is a special version of the Gallardo for high performance on the track.  I believe it is the best looking Gallardo of the many varients.  I had a chance to photograph this Lambo at the Cars & Couture event at Tampa International Jet Center last week.  As is usually the case when photographing cars at events, the background had people and other objects in it distracting from the beautiful Lamborghini itself.  Plus, this was a very black car being sidelit by the setting sun.  To produce the final, fully edited image you see above, it too 1-hour of digital darkroom effort!  This is how editing this digital photograph progressed . . .

As you can see, if I simply set the exposure mode to aperture priority at f/8 and let the camera's meter make the decision, the result would have been a decent looking sky, but a very underexposed Superleggera that lacked detail in the many shadows.  There was no doubt that I would need to make an HDR image to have a chance at getting both the car and the background looking well exposed.  I went to the max that my Nikon D300 can do, 9-exposures.  

After processing those 9 shots in Photomatix Pro, the middle image was the result.  The worst part of it really were all the reflections in the side of the Lamborghini from another car next to it.  That required a lot of careful clone stamping and even a little painting to get to an at least acceptable level of reflection.  

After that task I set to removing the people standing behind the Superleggera, then the building over the passenger's side, then the cones and finally the person half-visible in the left edge of the frame.  Once the image was all cleaned up I began selectively adjusting contrast levels and doing a little dodging here and there to balance the look of the pavement.

All that is not even counting my initial color correction and adjuting done in Aperture 3 and Color Efex Pro 3!  So you can get an idea of how much work is involved in trying to get a usable car shot from a car event!

Stunning Vivid Dusk Sky over St. Petersburg Florida from The Pier

Downtown St. Petersburg vivid dusk south view from The Pier - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 11 sec tripod mounted with cable release

And to think, making this photograph will not even be possible in a year's time because the location I shot this from, the roof of The Pier, will be demolished.  I certainly hope the structure that replaces it will offer similar or better views of the downtown St. Petersburg, Florida waterfront, otherwise there will be no more photos showing its beauty at dusk, twilight and sunset.

Cotton candy coated downtown St. Petersburg vivid pink dusk - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 6 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseI had the opportunity to make these photos only because I was teaching a DSLR Photography Lesson focusing on tripod usage.  Otherwise, I would have been home and never witnessed this amazing view.  In fact, both my student and I had just earlier remarked how gray the sky was and how we would not be able to get any keepers this lesson, but at least I was able to teach him the technical aspects of using a tripod for long exposure photography.  I told him since there is so little color that I would shoot thinking to convert the images to black & white!

Orange dusk breaks over downtown St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/2 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseThen all of a sudden a hint of orange light appeared reflected off the low clouds, as the sun had already actually set.  We took immediate notice and thought, at least we got to see a touch of color.  Then as the sun slipped further to the other side of the Earth, the dusk sky started to explode in color and as we adjusted the length of the shutter speed on our DSLRs, we were able to pull more and more color back over the horizon and into our lenses.  The photographs above are actually posted in reverse chronological order, with the above orange image the first I took.  Each was made almost exactly five minutes after the other.  That is the power of putting your DSLR on a tripod and using shutter speed to create an amazing long exposure image finding light and color the naked eye cannot see.

Wide Panorama of Pass-A-Grille Beach St. Petersburg Florida Fine Art Photography

Click for 2000px version - 5 shot panorama of Pass-A-Grille Beach St. Petersburg Florida available for commercial license & fine art printOn the same stormy evening I photographed the kiteboarder out on Pass-A-Grille Beach I made this 5-shot panorama of the beach as empty as you will ever see it.  This shot was made handheld which is surprisingly not hard to keep aligned if you have a grid view inside your DSLR's viewfinder.  I put the lower third of the gridline in the viewfinder straight on the horizon allowing me to make the shot without the tripod.  What I had to watch for was leaving enough overlap (about 1/3 of a frame) so that Photoshop could work its stitching magic with its Photomerge automation.

Pass-A-Grille Beach is one of my favorite spots in all of Tampa Bay as it represents the very tip of the main Gulf Blvd beaches in Pinellas County.  It definitely has a "land's end" feel to it, especially at a time like this after a storm at twilight.