Peter Hudson Charon

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Your most challenging shot of 2011?

Post a link below to one of your most challenging shots… and feel free to talk about it too if you wish!

Daily Photo: Peter Hudson Charon

This was one of my most difficult photos of 2011.

This amazing sculpture from Burning Man is the brilliant work of Peter Hudson. You may remember this scene from your mythology, where Charon rows the dead across the river Styx.

The sculpture requires at least six spectators to pull a series of ropes in a certain manner. Once the wheel starts spinning fast enough, strobes start flashing, animating the skeletons. Each of them was animated by a Pixar artist and there was a magical effect. Capturing the motion and the strobe all at once was extremely difficult. I thought about it for four days before finally taking the shot. I’m sure my Burning-Man-Buds Tom Anderson and Cliff Baise tired of me speculating about the shot!

Charon crosses the river Styx, ferrying a lost soul into the beyond, forever.  This is where the souls go that have no hope, the endless void.  Travelers come and pull and twist and spin and see the strobes alight upon the skeleton bones.  The neck tilts and the head bows in a deathly pose, a skinless grimace pulls back a macabre grin of hate; the hate of a man who dies alone, between worlds of understanding.

  • This shot in The Pantheon in Paris was very challenging. People everywhere, no tripods allowed and 6 shots 1.5 stops apart were needed to capture the dynamic range.


  • Oh, wow you uploaded early tonight..
    Folks should really click through to see this on black to appreciate the full awesomeness of it.

    Ya know, posting something like this shot, with its awesome leading lines in the horizon and some groovy tilt-shift, the location of the spiral “stop point” and symmetry as you go up the spiral and then saying, “hey post your most challenging shot” is sort of like trying to shoot hoops with Michael Jordan. πŸ˜‰

    Still, I appreciate the opportunity you always give us to share-alike in your comment threads!

    I’m embarrassed to post something and call it difficult after this one but I’m used to looking silly, here goes:

    I guess, I’d have to say the most challenging shot I’ve attempted was trying to shoot a Christmas boat parade, last weekend. Pitch Black, boats clipping along at 5 knots, I foolishly set up on a floating dock and sat behind the tripod with my 2 year old in my lap, trying with much failure to get the lowest-possible noise shot without much motion blur. I could find no way to make the shots interesting and still get a capture.

    I did post one from the event on G+, here: I said. it was sad. At least the process of Single-Raw HDR allowed me to recover some reflections in the water. Oh, well. maybe next year I’ll hang off a bridge or something. πŸ˜‰

  • Hey Trey, Fun challenge tonight looking through my post from this past year to remind myself of the more challenging shots. Unfortunately, there were not as many images to look through as I would have liked. The photo I chose was tough because of the mustard yellow sodium vapor lights that were lighting the scene. If I corrected out the yellow, the blues went crazy. I ended up converting the photo to B&W and then using a yellow ‘filter’ to darken the sky. It was almost cheating but I think the final image worked. Here is a link to the photo:
    As a side note, I love the new IPad app. I went to Shanghai a few weeks ago and it was great to find ideas for shooting locations. It’s really too cool.

  • Susan

    Awesome shot Trey….no people don’t get tired of you speculating!

  • Hi Trey, your photos from Burning man are outstanding. Anyway, my biggest photo challenge (it’s not just one photo) for me so far was a backpacking trip around Outer Hebrides in Scotland last summer. It was a lot of travelling, walking, packing and unpacking the tent but it was also a lot of fun. I almost forgot the most important part, great landscapes:). Some of the photos from there can be found here at my blog:

  • Mine just so happens to be a recent HDR panorama I took of San Antonio and all of it’s Christmas lights. The amount of time having to mask the lights, merge the exposures and stitch the panels together was crazy but I think it turned out good in the end.

  • The first thing that caught my attention was the color of the whole photo ad the effects. What an Elegant shot!

  • This is my most challenging photo of 2011. It is an HDR Pana view of the roof in York Minster, UK from the Quior (East
    ) to the West Altar.

    A tripod was used and the camera swung in a 180 degree arc from left to right over head. 10 x 3 exposures 9-2,0,
    +2) processed in Photomatix, Photoshop used to combine the images and blend using groups for each element, Topaz adjust and detail to enhance details of whites etc.

    Merry Christmas to you all


  • Julie Willson

    The color is really cool. The whole photo glows. You inspire me. In fact, since I had Friday off, I thought I would get up early (I know right). I just purchased an intervalometer, and wanted to take a time -lapse of the sunrise. The cloud cover looked promising, so I took off east of the city and found a nice spot. When I arrived, I discovered I had forgotten my tripod. Undiscouraged, I decided the sunrise was too pretty to pass up the opportunity to fire off some quick shots for HDR. Most of them had some alignment issues, but I found a fence post for this one By the time I finally made it to the car, both my fingers and toes were numb. In my excitement for the perfect sunrise, I had also forgotten socks and gloves.

  • Trey love this photo! You did an amazing job catching some awesome colors and the way it pops is just straight up HDR.

    My most challenging photo –

    To get this shot I had to slide down about 7 ft of sheer rock and he’d out onto a cliff that was no bigger than me and my tripod. One wrong move and I would have been getting some amazing photos from the bottom of the gorge, provided I and my camera, survived the 40ft fall.

    Thanks for doing what you do!

  • It’s so funny that we are talking about out most difficult photos of 2011 because I just processed one last night –

    I had never shot in Times Square at night before but I quickly learned there are some significant challenges. The shear number of people is simply amazing, the signs are constantly changing and it’s cold πŸ™

    One strategy I found is to shoot at a small aperture to minimize people and cars. BUT, then shoot the same at a large aperture to stop the motion of the changing signs. Then just mask the signs in the small with the large.

    I am going back in a couple weeks to shoot again. Does anyone know, do the lights stay on all night? I assume they do but I’ve never been there at 1am?

  • Nah, I don’t tire of you speculating. What made this shot even more difficult was the ding dong who stepped in front of your rig to try for a handheld shot. Note to self for next Burning Man: Photograph the art installations toward the beginning of the week before the ding dongs show up. I was blown away by how the population grew towards the end.

    ps. Brandon Watts: AWESOME shot of San Antonio!

  • Trey, you always seem to capture some great artistic moments. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, so maybe my most challenging photo would be a piece of cake for many of you.
    This shot was taken in near dark so getting the right exposure was a little challenging for me, but HDR rescued me here. I also just couldn’t get the stars to show up in my photomatix result. In the end, I masked them in even though I felt a little like I was cheeting! πŸ˜‰ hehe.

  • Brian Michaud

    My most difficult shot was this sunrise at my house since it was the first HDR shot I had ever taken and it was my first time using photomatix. This blog and a cup of coffee makes for an enjoyable way to start the day (hey that rhimes)

  • Gail Moshier

    Excellent photo, Trey. Wow, what an amazing fete to create that machine. I would have loved to see that in person! Thanks for sharing. Happy Tuesday. πŸ™‚

  • I would say my most challenging photo, in person and in post was this water scene in Arizona. It was a combination of a few images together to get the wide view. I also had to put the shot through some trials in post to get the mood and colors that I wanted.


  • After bucking 40 mpr headwinds and a 3 mile hike through sand in hip waders I finally arrived at the tip of Long Beach Island, a barrier island on the Jersey shore. I had intended to shot the light house at the channel break but it was on the other side of the channel about a mile away, ugh.
    Luckily I found this lifeguard stand battened down for winter.

  • John

    Awesome shot.

    MIT made a camera that captures a trillion frames a second…fast enough to actually see light waves in action.

    I got the link from gizmodo but thought people here would find it interesting.

  • Henry

    Here’s a Burning Man theme shot, the “Spire of Fire” from BM, now in Reno, NV. Getting the fire dancer, moon, and spire when its flaming all in one shot was no small trick.[email protected]/6289331035/in/photostream

  • Awesome contraption, I would love to see it in action in person. I imagine that was tricky with natural light. Did you use any additional lighting? Also curious what ISO and shutter speed you used (gives a better idea of how brightly lit the scene was).
    This shot was a bit tricky:
    Technically fairly straightforward but getting the right perspective and being lucky enough on timing to get the Blue Angels to fly over a hawk in downtown San Francisco…probably won’t happen again.

  • Stunning Photo.
    I can imagine how difficult it was to produce that effect. If you have time, visit my website and leave a comment!

    Here is one quick HDR from my flickr account…

  • Awesome shot Trey … Thank you for sharing.

    My most challenging photo of 2011 it’s an HDR near a lake, in Portugal, on a tiny bridge, made of old wood, the shaking bridge was a challenge and at the same time the difficulty to compose the photo with very little space for the tripod ( i almost get all the equipment wet ), but i am glad i made it!


  • Thanks for your daily inspiration, Trey!

    My biggest challenge was how to take a unique photo of a place that’s photographed so much. I spent 3 months in Sydney and kept experimenting with compositions & angles to get the Opera House and Harbour bridge in a unique shot. This was my result, which was also a challenge on the post-procesing side since it was an HDR + Panorama.
    Here it is:

  • Jonathan Pabalate

    I was camping at the Playa Surfers about 40 yds from that pier! Just behind your shot of the pier was the tesla coil which was mesmerizing!

    Here was my take on the pier when the man was beginning to burn…

  • Anonymous

    Charon will be touring around Europe and the West Coast. Be sure to visit for more or Peter Hudson’s amazing zoetropes, or Hudzoetropes. ONE OF KIND!

  • Anonymous

    One tiny correction (in playful jest)
    The sculpture requires at least six spectators to pull a series of ropes in a certain manner.

    Once the spectator begins to pull on the rope, they are no longer a spectator but a participant in the work itself.Β 

    It is such fun!

    Thank you for this incredible incredible shot. Impossible!

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