Friday, March 30, 2012

Arena City, Kiev

An important shopping and entertainment complex here in Kiev. Apparently. I've yet to check out what's inside, though some of the store entrances outside include two banks, La Perla, and Villeroy and Boch...whatever they are!

The only possible way to catch this "no traffic" shot and while the sun is up is 6AM on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and during the summer.

How this was done.

This HDR photo was created from one original RAW file.  I created two additional versions of this photo, one with an exposure of -1 EV and one with an exposure of +1 EV.  The original version kept the 0 EV value.  These were blended into an HDR photo using Photomatix.  The output from Photomatix is seen on the top right.

This version was taken into Photoshop, where some colors were enhanced and sharpening was added, both using Topaz Detail.  Both were then faded back, using the Fade function in Photoshop.  Then an inconvenient sign and traffic light were miraculously made to disappear through the magic of Photoshop.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Statue of Igor Sikorsky, Kiev

So, why a statue of Igor Sikorsky in Kiev? Wasn't he an American?

Well, like most Americans, he came from somewhere else. He was born in Kiev, then part of the Russian Empire, and studied at Kiev Polytechnic Institute, where this statue stands.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Premier Palace Hotel

The Premier Palace Hotel, Kiev

The Premier Palace Hotel, Kiev, on a Saturday morning.

Thanks for all the visits this week.  Feel free to recommend my site to your family and friends!  Much appreciated!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pantusha, Revisited

• HDR Photo

The owner of the nearby restaurant, Pantagruel, decided to let a cat named Pantusha live inside the eatery. Soon the cat became a favorite with visitors. However once the restaurant caught fire, killing the poor pet. The restaurant’s patron renovated the restaurant, of course, and insisted a small monument be erected in memory of the cat.

Link to the article. However, there is nothing more about Pantusha in this article.

Pantusha the Cat

An HDR before and after.

This HDR was created from three different exposures of one original photo. The original and the two virtual copies are seen in the top row. The output from the Photomatix program is seen on the bottom left, and the final outcome, after some additional work in Photoshop, is seen on the bottom right.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Just another decrepit building, not too far from the city center.  It's been like this for a while.  Maybe it's still like this now?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Soviet Aircraft, WWII

Definitely not a fighter, possibly a bomber or a transport plane. Seen on the grounds of the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Kiev.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mariyinsky Palace

Mariyinsky Palace (Ukrainian: Маріїнський палац, Mariyins'kyi palats) is an official ceremonial residence of the President of Ukraine in Kiev and adjoins the neo-classical building of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine. It is a picturesque Baroque palace on the hilly bank of the Dnieper River.

The palace was requested to be constructed in 1744 by the Russian Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, and was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the most famous architect working in the Russian empire at that time. One of the students of Rastrelli, Ivan Michurin, together with a group of other architects, completed the palace in 1752. Empress Elizabeth, however, did not live long enough to see the palace. The first royal figure to stay in the palace was Empress Catherine II, who visited Kiev in 1787. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the palace was the main residence of Governors-General.

Mariyinsky Palace

A Before and After:

I've been wanting to post a photo of Mariinsky Palace for a long time.  However, the pictures I had of it, even after processing, did not come out the way I was hoping for.  And the reconstruction of the palace, which was to be completed sometime in 2010, is still underway.  But a couple of weeks ago, I came across a photo that I had forgotten about, and after working on it a bit, I finally had an outcome I was happy with.  Once the construction barricades come down at Mariinsky, I will still be going back there for some more photos!

Once again, I started from one original, since that was all I had to work with.  The processing of this was a bit unusual for me, since I usually start with three before pictures, not four.  But this time there were four, though you only see three of them shown below, all on the left.

On the top right, you see the photo as it emerged from Photomatix.  Is it an improvement over the three originals?  Yes!  But I knew I could do better than that.  So I took it into Photoshop, where I bought out more color in the sky and more detail in the building.  And a few other minor changes while I was at it.  The photo you see at the bottom right, and at the top of this post, is the final outcome.  Finally!  I've got a picture of this palace that I am totally happy with!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Memorial to Students and Staff, WWII

Well, every once in a while I come up with what I think is a great name for a photo, but then I find out they story behind the image and suddenly the name I came up with doesn't seem so great any more.

This was seen near the campus of Kiev Polytechnic Institute in Kiev.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Russian Ukrainian Friendship Statue

•  HDR Photo

Another of the big, bold, oh-so Soviet statues found in Kiev.  In the early 1980's the Soviet Union found itself in a budgetary bind, caused by the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, imperial excursions gone astray, and war demands in Afghanistan. This forced cuts in spending in many areas, but apparently the building of statues was hardly impacted at all. This is the Russian Ukrainian Friendship statue, built 1982.

To get this shot without some hard to remove, gaudy structures in the background, I practically had to lay down on my back and shoot up at this angle. Along with HDR processing and some Topaz Detail, it gives it a rather dramatic look, don't you think?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Schornborn Palace (HDR)

Schornborn Castle, Ukraine, also known as the Schornborn Hunting Castle

During the early 18th century, the beginning of the revolt led by Ferenc II Rákóczi took place around the Mukachevo area. During the mid-late 18th century, the city came under Austrian control as part of the Kingdom of Hungary and was made a key fortress of the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1726, the Palanok Castle and the town, before 1711 owned by the Rákóczi family, was given by the Habsburgs to the Schönborn family, who were responsible for an expansion of the town.


How this was done.

Once again, I started with only one original photo. You've got to work with what you have, and all that! From this original photo, I created two alternate versions, one underexposed by two stops, and one overexposed by two stops. Then I ran these three versions of this photo through Photomatix 4 to see what would come out.

On the bottom left, you see the output from Photomatix, and on the bottom right, you see the result after some adjustments in Photoshop. WAIT, you might be saying, the one on the left is the more colorful and vibrant of the two. That must be the final version! But there are a couple of problems with it.

When doing HDR, I generally try to keep the final results on the more realistic side. (Except when I try not to)! So, what's the problem with the results on the bottom left? Well, the sky is just too vibrant, plus, in the upper right of that photo, there is a banding problem. Why this happens in Photomatix sometimes and not in most occasions, I couldn't tell you. But after trying a number of adjustments, it was still there.

So I took the Photomatix output and the three original input versions into Photoshop. The main adjustment I wanted was to pull the sky out of the original photo (middle top) and overlay that onto the HDR result. Honestly, I think that sky is just more pleasing. I also lightened the brick in the foreground using the brick in the upper right photo.

Additional adjustments were using Topaz Detail (Bold Detail setting), with minor saturation tweaks in Topaz Detail, then, back in Photoshop, using the Fade command to fade the Topaz results by 50%. I then selected only the brick sidewalk and went back into Topaz Adjust and used the Bold Detail setting again, and back in Photoshop, used the Fade command again. I also upped the saturation on the yellow on the building.