Matt Erickson really gets around. He’s assistant editor of MMAjunkie.com, which covers mixed martial arts fighting. That site is also part of the USA Today sports group.
You might remember him as a truly awesome sports designer for the Munster, Ind., Times of Northwest Indiana. The visuals project for which he’s best remembered, perhaps, was when he built alternate covers for the paper’s 2004 high school football section…
so that all the area schools could be on the cover that year.
All 29 of the area schools.
It was an amazing effort that earned him two silver medals and judges’ special recognition in the annual SND contest. If you’ve got a 26th edition of Best of Newspaper Design handy, check it out on page 43.
On the side, though, Matt has a hobby: High Dynamic Range — or HDR — photography. Matt explains that HDR…
…allows for a much higher range of luminance between the dark and light areas of a photo. This is done, typically, by combining three or more exposures of the same shot — one overexposed, one underexposed, one neutral. The resulting images are a closer representation of what your eyes would have seen — though perhaps not always all at once.
The technique has been around for more than 150 years, believe it or not, though [now] it’s a little bit easier to do the post-processing in a digital darkroom than it was in the 1850s.
The result is something that looks a lot like a painting. Except it’s not, of course. It’s a photo.
That shot is three exposures layered on top of each other — 1/640, 1/160, 1/40: One underexposed, one neutral, one overexposed. Because of the technique itself — three exposures merged into one image — it obviously isn’t “photojournalism.” Rather, it’s just an artistic photographic technique.
Matt has been experimenting around with this stuff for years.
Matt even sells prints of his work. Find his site here.
Today, however, I want to draw your attention to this HDR picture of a high school football field that Matt shot a while back:
Matt writes via his Facebook page that this is…
…an HDR photo I shot before covering a game in 2010. I was stringing for The Times as a writer and wasn’t there to shoot photos; I shot it on my own, killing time waiting for kickoff.
A major book publisher spotted that picture and bought it from Matt for use on a book cover. He writes:
It’s called Until Friday Night, and it’s the first in what, I guess, will be a series of Young Adult books in the Field Party line.
The Simon & Schuster cover designer added the foreground image of the kids in the truck and the fence and bushes and Photoshopped out the logo on the field, and then went and put words all over my beautiful clouds and sunset.
The book will be released Aug. 25. It lists for $17.99, but Amazon is preselling the hardcover for $13.85.
A 1997 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Matt immediately joined the the Times and worked there for 13 years as a designer and, eventually, director of presentation and visuals. He spent time as a regional director for the Society for News Design and coordinated the SND annual contest in 2005. Matt left the Times in 2010 to strike out on his own as a freelance sportswriter specializing in MMA. He spent a year or so working with Heavy.com and joined MMAjunkie.com in 2012.