Category Archives: HDR

My Top Images of 2012

My biggest fear as a photographer is being stuck in a rut.  That is photographing the same things over and over again.  Each year I do have a set of specific places I photograph.  There is the airshow at the Rhode Island National Guard and the Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT.  The challenge for me is first to perfect my photographic technique and second to look at the event differently.

This year, I added a few new techniques to my abilities.  I created star trails one evening from my front door and I started practicing portrait photography by setting up a rudimentary basement studio to photograph family and friends.

I also practices a lot more with off camera flash; lighting subjects in my back yard to bring out textures and colors.

Equipment wise, I added the Canon 5D Mark III to my tools.  I simply love this camera.  Moving to a full frame DSLR was also a learning experience with significant changes in how the lens perform at wider angles.  These larger image files are becoming difficult to process on my five-year old computer that was purchased without the thought of any kind of image processing.  So I see a high-end computer in my future.

This year I also exhibited for the first time in an Art Gallery and even sold a print.  I also set up camp at a “Harvest Festival” in my home town to see if any of my images would sell.  A few did but the rain all day limited the number of people attending the event.

With all that said, here are what I consider my top images of 2012…

Self Portrait. 

Inspired by Rodney Pike, I set off the create some manipulated portraits.  To to this however I needed to learn how to create portraits which sent me down the path of creating a rudimentary studio in my basement.  It was great learning how to set up the lights to create the portraits.  Syl Arena’s book: Speedliter’ s Handbook is an excellent reference to learn how to use flash from set up to capture.

Altered Ego |

Reggie – Mom’s Evil Cat

This image won Image of the Year at the Stony Brook Camera Club.  There were plenty of excellent images in this competition.  This image won on the cuteness factor.I think it brings out the true personality of mom’s cat.
Reggie | Mom's Evil Cat.

Circles of Light

Creating this image took learning a new technique, capturing star trails.  Lance Keimig’s night photography inspired me in a session he taught at the New England Camera Club Council Conference.  Pages 204 to 217 in his book “Night Photography: Finding your way in the dark” tells you all you need to know.

A circle of light |

Boston in the Morning

I love to photograph Boston.  For several years I have been photographing from the same location in East Boston.  This year I choose a new location and planned to photograph through the night staying at the Hyatt Hotel on this location.  (I was catching a plane out of Logan Airport in the morning).  Well mother nature was not good to me and that evening the wind was so strong, it kept vibrating my tripod and I was left with a series of “soft” images and two very cold hands…

The next morning, I had enough time to capture this single image of the city as the sun was just rising behind me.

Sunrise over Boston | Boston in the morning as viewed by the Hyatt Hotel in East Boston.

Butterfly with an Attitude

My daughter and I went to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in Deerfield, MA this year.  It was great making images with my daughter.  Afterwards, it was great seeing the images she created.  As I saw butterflies and flowers, she saw turtles, lizards and birds.  I realized afterwards I had missed so much and have a lot to learn about observation from my daughter.

Butterfly with an Attitude 1 | Photographed at Magic Wings, MA

(Looks like this butterfly has a nose ring…)

Boston Marathon

This year the Boston Marathon was one of the hottest temperature-wise.  Temp was 79 at the start of the race and topped out in the high 80’s.  My son ran this race.  It was his first marathon and he ran “unofficially”.  He made it to completion with a decent time.  I am very impressed with his determination to complete the marathon.

These photographs are early in the race where everyone are eager and full of energy.  I love the portrait of my son but am not sure of the haircut.
Boston Marathon 2012 |

Mike Runs |

Solo Heart.

These Bleeding Heart flowers, grow in my backyard.  This was the last flower of the year.  I captured this macro image in a basement setup.  This image is 24 images stacked using a technique to bring out a very deep depth of field.  The images were combined using a program called Helicon Focus.

Solo Heart | The last bleeding heart standing in the garden.  Multilayer Maco

The RI Airshow.

These are two different images than what I have created in the past.  The truck was simply luck.  I was tracking the truck as it raced across the runway when there was a Boom!  The pyrotechnics were spectacular.  Timing was great just as the parachute deployed.

The capture of the Mustang was something I have been trying to get a clean capture for years.  You need a slow shutter speed to give the feel of spinning propellers but be steady enough to bring the rest of the image in sharp.  I still see flaws and need more work perfecting this technique.

You can read more in a previous blog post.

Boom |

Never Miss | This P-51D Mustang, affectionately nick named Never Miss, was in service from 1945 to 1956.  Fortunately it never saw military action.   In 1996 she was named Never Miss by James Elkins who owned it for 13 years.

Lek Yuen Bridge

This is a foot bridge found in the new territories of Hong Kong that crosses the Shing Mun river.  This bridge provides a majestic view of the downtown area of the “New Territories”. Captured using both night photography and HDR techniques.

Lek Yuen Bridge | A foot bridge found in the new territories of Hong Kong crosses the Shing Mun river.  This bridge provides a majestic view of the downtown area.

Buttonwood Farm 2012

Every year the Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT grows 10 acres of sunflowers.  People come from all around to visit and photograph this field.  Donations are collected for the Make –A-Wish foundation.I needed to stand in the middle of the field to capture this image with the barn in the background.

Buttonwood Farm 2012 | Every year the Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT grows 10 acres of sunflowers.  People come from all around to visit and photograph this field.  Donations are collected for the Make –A-Wish foundation.

Adirondack Balloon Festival.

In what may become a new tradition, the Adirondack Balloon Festival is a great place to go in September to capture some great images.There are some risks however in that mother nature can limit the flights and the first launch was cancelled on account of winds.  The following three images provides a feel of what images can be captured.

In my Beautiful, my Beautiful Balloon. Captured in the early morning, this balloon was part of an early morning balloon launch of 100 balloons.

Up Up and Away | In my Beautiful, my Beautiful Balloon.  Captured in the early morning, this balloon was part of a 100 balloon launch at Glens Falls, NY.

Fireworks over Lake George.

Fireworks over Lake George |

Morning Glow as this balloon master fills the balloon.

Baloon Master |


Still life in my back yard.  After the rain one morning I set out to photograph the turning leaves.  This image was captured with the leaves still on the tree using off camera flash to light the subject.

Fall |

Paths to Nowhere.

The next two images is a new idea that I am developing.  They are simply paths to nowhere.  The first image is a roadway in Minnesota in a low population part of the region. The second image, is my last image of 2012 a walk along the Upper Charles Trail in Milford, MA.

I think I do need a subject in these images a payoff at the end of the trail.  Still working on this concept.

The Road Home | Route 59

A walk in the cold | Along the Upper Charles Trail Milfird during the last snow of 2012.

Martha Mary Church

Martha Mary Church at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn and Grist Mill – Sudbury, MA.  Couldn’t find the Grist Mill but found this beautiful church.

Martha Mary Church | Martha Mary Church at Longfellow's Wayside Inn and Grist Mill - Sudbury, MA.  Couldn’t find the Grist Mill but found this beautiful church.

Our Lady of Victory

Located in Tannersville, PA, this is my brother’s church.  A Roman Catholic Church with a very vibrant community.  Captured just after Christmas celebration.  The light reflected through the clerestory windows provides dramatic light across the crucifix.  I saw this light and immediately saw the symbolism of the resurrection of Jesus.  Just after this capture, the clouds hid the sun and the light show was over.

Our Lady of Victory | Love how the light luminated the cross in this image of the interior of Our Lady of Victory Church, Stroudsburg, PA.


Back Story: Porto Portugal

I had a chance to visit Porto, Portugal this week. It is a beautiful city with character. Or said another way, it was a beautiful city that has seen better days.

Photographically it is a beautiful place, given the colors, history, textures and clutter so as a photographer it was a wonderful place to see. But that underlying feeling of neglect and poverty is what made the strongest impression of my visit there.


At the top of a very long outside stairway, is a small alley with a mix of abandoned and neglected apartments. At the top of the stairs sat this woman who, to me, typified the European grandma. There she was, shelling peas in her lap, as she enjoyed the view from outside her apartment. Behind her were some abandoned, mostly graffiti covered apartments.

An old world view, of an old world port, in a region that has over 2000 years of history.


The colors were saturated to bring out the contrast better. There is a lot going on here. The yellow of the building contrasts nicely with the blue of the skis. The red of the door and red graffiti of the bird provide interesting items and balance from left to right. Because of the mix of colors, I hope people see the main character for this photo, the lone lady shelling peas.

Graphic / Composition

Because of the wide angle lens used, there is some warping in the buildings that I think work well for this image. The walls on both sides of the image, funnel the eye to the main character. The triangle created by the walls, creates nice depth into the image. The arched window on the right provides an additional view of the river and delivers more information about “Place”.


This image was created as a high dynamic range photo. This allowed me to combine a properly exposed sky with a properly exposed building and walkway.

ISO 400, 20mm (Canon EF-S10-22mm Lens), F10 and bracketed by speed at 1/125, 1/320, 1/800.

The images were combined using Nik HDR Pro.

You can see more photos of my visit to Porto, Portugal here.

All images are (c) R. DeRobertis 2011


How Convenient! Boston Bodegas and the Immigrant Experience

A friend of mine and fellow photographer Peter Bates is exhibiting his work at The Newton Free Library from now until July 31.  I had a chance to go to the opening reception last week.

What I liked about his exhibit is that Peter choose a project to drive his photographic passion.  He chose to photograph Boston Bodegas at twilight using HDR techniques.  His work is wonderful.  but better yet, Peter interviewed the owners and wrote a back story about each Bodega and their owner.  It is a wonderful exhibit.  

He inspires me. 

Images reprinted by permission by the maker.  Contact Peter at 

Henry's Market

Composite Interview Shot Happy Superette Onwer

The Newton Free Library is at 330 Homer Street, Newton, MA 02459
Hours open:
Mon-Thr 9-9
Fri 9-6
Sat 9-5

Before and After Using Nik Tools

A little before and after today.  

I like to capture moments using HDR (High Dynamic Range) methods of photography.  I don’t do this for the “HDR look” but to compensate for the poor dynamic range of digital cameras.   But alas, this post is not about HDR, there are plenty of references on this subject and I recommend checking out this article on wikipedia to learn more about HDR.

So here is my story about before and after. Below are two images. The first image was exposed as best that the camera could. The second is an HDR plus additional image processing version of the image. In the first image there are whites in the sky and blacks in the tree. I could have modified this image with flash to bring out the shadows in the tree. But what I was seeing was a very dynamic sky and no flash would help bring out that detail.

At this moment, I was feeling cold winds and mist from the water. I also saw the concrete as a stark contrast to the tree. And of course, I saw the Golden Gate bridge which I wanted to frame in this composition with the tree. The “properly exposed” image gave me none of that drama. So, as I usually do in this situation, I photographed this image for HDR. That is I over exposed by 1 and 1/3 stops and I underexposed by 1 and 1/3 stops. I also shot this from a tripod..

When I arrived home, I processed the three images using my new favorite HDR compression tool Nik HDR EFEX Pro. Made some additional exposure and saturation adjustments in Lightroom and then moved into Photoshop to clone out the orange “No Anything” sign. That was it for a about a month.

As I was looking at the image and thinking about what I liked, it was the bench. The way the light was coming into this image from what appeared to be the upper right. (Even though the sun had set in the left of the image, the sky was clearer on the right and more light was indeed breaking through. But you really could not see this. In the original image you can see the shadow behind the chair but is is minimal. Today I brought the image into Nik Color EFEX to adjust the color contrast and then Nik Viveza to selectively brighten around the chair. Finally I used Nik Sharpen to bring out the textures in the concrete. [I am in no way affiliated with Nik. I just purchased their software this week and decided to give the tools a whirl.]

I think the final image does help me communicate the drama of that moment. It may be a little more than what I indeed saw that evening but I think it does convey all that I was feeling at that moment.

After taking this shot, I realized how numb my hands were having photographed the sun setting on this cold day for over an hour. Sometimes when I get into the “zone” I really don’t realize the loss of key comforts as I enjoy these photographic moments. And so here we are looking at this image. Hopefully you want to sit in that chair to see what is “over there”…

Over there by the way is Alcatraz.