The difference that a year makes

One year ago, I set out on a journey in my hometown of Staten Island, to photograph some of its signature sites. This could have easily been a leisure trip, but this was actually one of the first projects that I ended up doing for statenislandlifestyle.com. The site is being run by one of my best friends Kristina Gershteyn. Staten Island is a big part of New York City, but over the years it has been getting a really bad reputation for various reasons. As its citizen and local real estate agent, Kristina felt that there was not enough light being shed on the great sites and businesses that our town had to offer. She also has been mentioning the fact that Staten island has been stepping out of its big brother's shadow (Manhattan) and was not being represented well in some of the outside media. That is how StatenIslandLifestyle.com was born.

San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. Staten Island has the Verrazano Bridge. Some of the best views of the bridge can be found in Fort Wadsworth and that is where I took these shots. One year ago I was new to the world of digital photography. I was trying to soak in as much information as I could. This is one of my first HDR images and I really liked it at first, but I really hate it now. 

One year since the original shot and processing.... Here is a look at what I saw and felt then, and what I see and feel now.

Before

 

1 year later

 

Both of these shots are 3 shot HDR. Processed in Photomatix 3.0 and then a few adjustments in Photoshop CS5. The only difference is my vision of today and 1 year ago. You, the reader be the judge of what looks better to you. 1 year is really not a long time, but in this context this period represents my growth as a photographer and this is just one link in what I am hoping is going to become a life long chain of creativity and education.

After doing the first shot I went back a few days later and shot the dawn on that same location. Here is another before and after shot. I am my best critic and the before shot here is just horrific in my opinion. It represents everything that an HDR shot should not be. 

 Before

 

1 Year Later. I was able to merge the 3 shot HDR with a different tone mapping technique. Then I merged it with the darkest exposure to create what I think is an (ok) representation of the actual scene. I chose to re-process the shot with the sun well above the horizon line. For the purposes of this post I did not fine tune the borders of the mask so that you can easily see the transition.