Author Archives: Josh Leyva

About Josh Leyva

17 year old Aspiring photographer/cinematographer. Can't live without technology. Love anything made by Apple.

Take flight. #LookingUp

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My first experience with HDR photography

Until a couple of weeks ago, I’ve never attempted HDR photography on a DSLR before. I have used apps on my iPhone (Pro HDR, if anyone was interested) but I don’t consider those two to be in the same ballpark, haha.

So here’s my story at my first attempt with HDR photography.

I headed out to a nice area a couple of miles away from where I live. I got to one of the locations I planned to shoot at around 7:15 pm which is like 15 minutes or so before golden hour, and parked on the side of the road. I hoped that no one would get mad at me for parking there but it’s not a very high traffic area so I wasn’t too worried. I got all of my stuff that I needed, which was pretty much just the camera and tripod haha. After I got everything set up the sun was still a little too high to get the nice pink-ish gold-ish looking sky so I was playing with the settings until it got a little lower.

So the ideal method for taking HDR photos is to bracket around 4 or 5 shots (Canon and Nikon are different). Which the camera takes the photos at different exposures in a couple of seconds. But the Nikon I’m using doesn’t have that sophisticated feature so I had to go old school and change things manually. At first I tried to change the Exposure comp. from 3 stops under, to 3 stops over exposed. But by changing it, I was moving the camera quite a bit, even while trying not to. It also took what seemed like 5 seconds just to change it each time so I had to improvise. The shutter speed is a lot easier to quickly change on the D3000 so I decided I would try that out by changing the shutter accordingly. In the end I did get better results with less shake using that method.

I took around 100 or so photos during that session and ended up with just 3 photos that I liked. I really I have to get used pressing ‘delete’ ha.

The programs I used to edit and stitch these together were Photomatix Pro, which I found out about thanks to Trey Ratcliff (which is the master at HDR in my opinion). And I also used Lightroom to finish up some of the final touches with the images.

Overall I’m pretty proud of myself for how the photos came out, thanks to the weather cooperating that day, there were some nice clouds which really add a lot of dimension to landscape photos. This whole experience just makes me even more exited to continue taking HDR photos!

So that was my first experience with HDR and I had a great time with both shooting and editing the photos. I’m already scouting different areas around here to see what would look nice as an HDR. I already have a few places in mind..

– Josh




Panoramic Planet

I shot this around September 2012 I think, (the actual photo (cropped):, it’s actually my new header) and I wanted to try this type of 360 degree/planet/panorama photo. I thought it turned out pretty nicely. I actually tried to take some photos today so I could try the effect on it, but none of them really turned out like I hoped they would. So I was browsing through my photos when I came upon this panorama, and since it was already a panorama it made it quite a bit easier to work with.

Panoramic Planet

So up next on my photography to-do list, I’m wanting to try steel wool photography. Looks like a lot of fun, hope I get to make one soon! And besides that there’s also another little secret photo/idea that I’m currently working on, I’ll let you know once I perfect it… I think it should be pretty cool… 😀

-Josh L

Starting Over (Part 2)

Well after a few months of deserting this blog, I was motivated and I decided to come back and hopefully start writing again. After reading some of the older posts, I really liked remembering those times so I wanted to continue that for the future. So here goes!

I don’t even know where to start…. So I’m still in college, well I “officially” started freshman year this past fall (August 2012) and as of now, we have six weeks left until the end of this semester. I’m ready for summer break! I’m currently taking 12 credit hours this semester, here’s the list of classes:

English 101
Math 70
History 106
Photography 2 aka Photo-communications II

I’ve been enjoying this semester more than the previous one. The classes are a bit easier and I’m feeling more confident with the whole college routine now. This semester I got a job at the college, I work at the bookstore. It’s not bad, I mainly just restock food, make/refill coffee and manage one of the registers if we’re busy. I’ve hardly worked much lately though, I’m currently at five hours a week, ha! I started out for the first couple of weeks at around 36 hours a week. The only reason it was so much was because the bookstore is where they also keep all of the textbooks, so they needed us as much as we could work and help them out with that. But I don’t mind five hours a week, I have more free time for school (supposedly) 😉

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I have my photography class, it’s an easy class so I enjoy it. Tomorrow we’re actually going to be going to a studio and we’re supposed to bring and item for our “Still Life” assignment. I’m still not sure what I’m going to bring.. my iPhone? ;P

As far as photography goes I’ve still been taking photos, not as many as I used to though. I’ll still post to Instagram every once in a while. (I’m currently at 840 followers!) I really want to get a camera. Or I just want something other than the standard 18-55. I guess I just have to continue being creative until then!

So last semester I got an iPad 3, which I was soon going to discover that Apple was planning on releasing the iPad 4 only thirty-six days later. *facepalm* But it’s not a big deal, it was just a minor spec bump from the iPad 3 so I wasn’t too worried about that.

The car that I used to drive, a 1996 Mercury Cougar, finally gave up after around 200k+ miles haha. So while my mom got another car, I had to drive the only other one we had. A 2000 Chevy Blazer. Now that wouldn’t be half bad, it does have more power than the Cougar which is fun, but it’s a mail delivery car. Which means that the steering wheel is on the right side. And it wasn’t like it was made like that, there’s a belt mechanism that turns the steering wheel when I turn it on the right side. Same goes for the petals. I’ve gotten so many weird looks from people, its actually pretty funny though. I’ll pull up to someone at a traffic light, and when we make eye contact they just stare blankly while I just smile and drive off into the distance xD. There are disadvantages to driving on the right though, like I can’t go through drive throughs, and I haven’t had to yet, but if I had to throw a few quarters to pay for a toll on the interstate… yeah.

Well I guess thats all that I can think of for now, (why can’t I write this much for my English assignments? haha) I’m not sure if I’ll have a dedicated schedule but if I can, I’ll try to post daily. We’ll see how that goes. Oh and if you don’t feel like coming to the website often, (don’t worry you won’t hurt my feelings 🙂 ) you can “follow” at the bottom right so you can get an email each time I post something new. So thanks for reading!

-Josh L