Posts tagged “hyatt

Relaxing at the Hyatt Lost Pines

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5528337946/

Pine Table, Hyatt Lost Pines

On a whim last weekend, my wife and I went to stay at a nearby resort called the Hyatt Lost Pines.  It’s a great place set on 405 acres along the Colorado River near Bastrop, TX.  Our goal was purely to get some relaxation time and we accomplished that in spades.  The rough schedule was eat, read, nap, snack, walk, read…then repeat it all again.  We had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

On a side note, many people who haven’t ever been to Texas think only of plains and tumbleweed (that pretty much sums up my picture of Texas when I lived in Illinois).  However, the geography of Texas is quite varied and the eastern portion — starting around the location of this resort just east of Austin — is full of tall pine trees.  Bastrop has dense areas of pines and this continues through much of the eastern part of the state.  I’ll leave it to the reader to research where the “Lost” reference in the resort’s name originates but now you know why the “Pines” reference is applicable.

I managed a few pictures early Sunday morning.  Normally on a trip like this I make it a point not to “do photography”.  However, since the goal was to do whatever we found relaxing, I did spend about 45 minutes taking pictures early Sunday morning.  There were many interesting things to photograph in the halls and main lobby but there were a surprising number of people milling about at 6am so I was limited somewhat.

The photo at the top of the post shows a table which was made from the trunk of one of six large pines which were removed from the property.  It was a nice centerpiece for the main lobby and had a finish with the potential to provide some great reflected images.  It wasn’t meant to be though as I didn’t find any pleasing compositions at the correct angles to make use of the mirror-like properties of the table.  I tonemapped six exposures in photomatix then masked in pieces from the original exposures.  One tricky thing about this image was controlling the white balance because the room was heavily tungsten-lit.  I kept a lot of that warmth but found that each exposure had a bit of a different color cast and had to be individually adjusted in order to match the tonemapped layer for masking.  I ran a copy of the nearly-finished image through Topaz Adjust and included that at about 60% opacity.  Finally I used two curves adjustment layers to tweak parts of the image and selectively used Noiseware for noise reduction in parts of the frame.

This picture below of the main lobby was processed in much the same way as the above image.  Note the light fixture hanging from the ceiling.  It was also made from one of the pines on the property.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5527761235/

Lobby, Hyatt Lost Pines

The final image is a panorama stitched from 10 frames.  Due to the way I shot the frames I was left with a piece of sky which had no pixels and thus I either needed to crop the image accordingly or clone in some sky.  I chose the cloning route and it turned out reasonably…I’m not overly skilled with the cloning tool.  I increased the exposure of the buildings with an adjustment layer and mask.  Then I increased the tonal range of the sky with a curves adjustment layer and mask.  “Increased the tonal range of the sky” makes me sound really smart but I have to admit that I got that from David Nightingale’s tutorial on curves (see here: http://www.chromasia.com/tutorials/online/curves/).  This really helped to sky out a lot.  I added some noise reduction here and there and voila…a panorama of the main lobby area of the resort.  It’s nothing too exciting but it was good shooting and post-processing practice.  It really has to be viewed large to appreciate it (click on the image to view on flickr).

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5527722545/

Riversong Lawn, Hyatt Lost Pines

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Chicago River Sunrise

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5042745675/

Chicago River Sunrise Center exposure: 10mm, f/8, 1/6s ISO 100

 

Most of my family still lives in the Chicago area so we make a yearly trek to IL.  As part of this year’s trip I took some of my family on an overnight visit to downtown Chicago.   Life has kept me from being able to spend much time on photography but I had hopes of doing some “serious” photography in the city this year.  I figured that being on vacation would allow some time for pics but the highest priority was spending time with the kids and that’s what I mostly did.  I did manage some shots but really couldn’t spend time composing or trying different vantage points.

That said, I snuck out of the hotel room at sunrise and headed toward Michigan Avenue.  I caught a glimpse of the orange light of the early morning sun on the Trump Tower from a block away so I picked up the pace and walked to the Chicago River a block east of Michigan Ave.  In order to get the composition I wanted I had to set up the camera on one of the pillars of the stone wall above the river.  I was a bit nervous about that but just moved with caution to avoid knocking everything over the wall.

There are several things I like about this shot.  The orange glow of the Trump Tower was just right.  I liked how the wide-angle lens makes the buildings on either side of the river lean as if they’re getting ready for a cross-river showdown.  Finally, I’m partial to Chicago and therefore just think any downtown shot in the city looks cool.  I hope you like it too.

As for processing, this shot started life as a 4-exposure HDR (-4, -2, 0, +2).  Three exposures were nearly sufficient but I needed the -4 exposure to tame the reflective highlights at the bottom of the Trump Tower.  I brought the tonemapped image into Photoshop with the four original exposures and masked pieces of each into the image.  I use Noiseware to clean up the sky.  Finally, some sharpening and curves adjustments and I was pretty much done.  I had intended to play around with Topaz Adjust to see what I came up with but I never got around to that…maybe I’ll have some fun with that in the future.

Here’s a daytime shot of the Trump Tower.  As you can see, there’s no orange in that building at all — the morning sun was simply *that* orange.

 

Trump Tower