Archive for HDR Photography
The brief bio below for yours truly tells of HDR (High Dynamic Range) being my first love of photography. That will never change – the creative and artistic flexibility of the process allows a part of my brain that was fairly dormant for years to pop out now and then and say hello. There are also a few instances where HDR just works better (in my humble opinion) than any other processing method, like extreme contrasts in light and bringing out textures. At one time, every time the camera was pointed at something, brackets were collected and run through the tone mapping process, without much thought or consideration – it’s just what I did.
As time has moved on, I find myself moving out of the auto bracketing mode on the camera more often, and even choosing to process a single image out of a bracket set rather than processing all of them through the HDR software. This is likely a natural progression for HDR photographers. Maybe there’s some boredom involved or wanting to save some time, but there’s also other processes out there that I’m finding interesting and fun that produce some pretty cool results. Let’s take a look at an image and go through how the stuff behind my eyes is processing things these days.
Take this image above. It’s the middle shot of a bracketed set of 5, ranging from -2 EV to +2 EV at 1 EV increments (this image is 0 EV). It was taken back in February 2010 and is a monument devoted to the Confederate dead buried in the historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA. Back in 2010, this set was immediately run through Photomatix and tone mapped. Looking at the stack now, my preferences have changed – here’s why. Read More→
In my last post we looked at how to use graduated ND filters to help balance the scene when the contrast between sky and land is too great for the camera to deal with. This time we are going to look at another two options to help balance the scene that use the same basic idea of taking multiple exposures with the intention of blending them together at the post processing stage. Exposure bracketing or AEB is not a new thing and has been a feature on both digital and film SLRs for years. The idea when using film is to hedge your bets and make exposures either side of the cameras recommended value, thus ensuring at least one slide with a decent exposure when you got your film back from the lab. This idea stayed when digital cameras were introduced, but nowadays we’re using the different exposures to make one good one. This can either replace the idea of using a filter system or can be an alternative when presented with certain situations where a filter may cause more problems. These sorts of situations could include something like a mountain valley or perhaps a city scene, with lots of tall buildings cutting across the skyline. In these situations the filter would not only darken the sky but would also darken your mountain or skyscraper.
So the first option of using multiple exposures would be to take at least two shots, one biased towards the sky and one towards the land with the idea of merging them together on the computer. This is a fairly straight forward process which involves bringing both pictures together as layers then erasing the unwanted parts as necessary, taking care to do it gradually to achieve a seamless result. Once it looks right you can flatten the layers and continue to work on the image as a whole. In reality there in an awful lot of dynamic range within a single RAW file and with the help and careful use of the Highlight/Shadow tool in Photoshop you will be able to achieve great results using just two exposures.
onOne Software’s PhotoTools 2.6 is my go to plug-in for all things photography. PhotoTools 2.6 is a complete solution that will save you hours of time in the editing department. The expertise and development that went into this product is an industry standard plugin in my opinion and you can try it out for FREE!
The interface as you can see above is very easy to navigate. The main display window allows you to change views so that you can see the original image, the edited version or a combination of the two. Read More→
Welcome to Part 3 of the HDR Series – Getting Started! This time you are going to learn about the settings in a HDR Tone-Mapping software I use called Photomatix Pro 4. Before you get to the adjustments window you will be prompted with this window first.
Align Source Images: I always keep this box unchecked unless I was using brackets shot by hand (which I never do). If you did shoot your brackets by hand you will want to make sure that “By correcting horizontal and vertical shifts” is selected and that the “Crop aligned images” are Unchecked. (This will save you aggravation later if you have to use layer masking in Photoshop) Read More→
So you’ve just walked in the door and put your bag down, now what? How do you get your files ready for HDR? I will describe how I import my brackets into (the best file management program ever) Aperture 3.
Step #1: Import
- Fire up Aperture 3. Under the “Adjustments” tab you’ll find “RAW Fine Tuning”. You’ll want to move all 7 sliders to “0″ zero and create an hdr preset. (clicking on the gear icon will show the save preset option. More on why this is necessary later)
- Under the “Library” tab create a new “Folder” with the Year and another inside that folder with the Month.
- The “Import” tab should pop up and it will look something like this. Read More→
I would like to introduce you to an HDR series, that will hopefully open new doors to help improve your HDR workflow. I’ve been shooting HDR for a little over 14 months. Maybe not a very long time but after pushing sliders around in Photomatix I wasn’t quite satisfied. Eventually I reached that ah-ha moment when introduced to new techniques, so I hope with this series to help you achieve your very own ah-ha moment. Be sure to look for Part 2: Image Management in Aperture 3 and Part 3: HDR Tone-Mapping!
Step #1: Setting up your camera
- Your DSLR should have Auto-Exposure Bracketing (AEB) but if not you can still shoot your brackets by hand.
- I always shoot HDR in RAW (Full Resolution) with my camera in “Manual” mode. You can use “Aperture Priority” mode, but if your bracketing manually like I do then you’ll want to use “Manual” mode.
- Set White Balance to AUTO (unless you have a grey card or color passport)
- If your camera has “Exposure Delay Mode” and your shooting on a tripod then use it! (You can find this setting in your camera’s menu area)
- Set your “EV Steps For Exposure Control” to “1/2 Steps” instead of 1/3 steps. (Also found in your camera’s menu area)
- Now your set up to bracket for HDR, but you’ll will need to decide on how many brackets you need for your scene. Read More→
When Trevor asked me to contribute Cityscape and Landscape articles to the site last year I was honored. 2010 was a great learning year for me and in 2011, I’ve been able to reflect on all of my hard work for the past 365 days. Honoring the gems and realizing my mistakes, It’s allowed me to focus on this new year with a new mind frame. One thing I decided to remove is the word “scape” from my categories of work. I prefer to use the terms “City” & “Land”. For me this broadens the subject matter for which I can write about, because recently I’ve been shooting a lot of different subject matter when it comes to city and land photography. When I think of the word “scape”, I think of skyline shots, and sunsets over the ocean, but in fact city and land photography is so much more than that. In my recent adventures I’ve found ways to produce city and land images together, like the examples below.
One challenge photographers continually face is dealing with high contrast scenes.
Typically there are a couple of choices: you can expose for the highlights and let the shadows go black, or you can expose for the shadows and let the highlights blow out. Neither of these options give great results.
I was faced with an extreme version of this challenge during a recent trip to Yosemite Park in California. Going out at sunrise and sunset to catch the sweet light, I found the valley floor in complete darkness unless the sun was high in the sky.
Here is an example of the type of photo you might come home with in these conditions. The sun was setting on Half Dome lighting up the top of the dome and leaving the valley in darkness.
Every day I find numerous articles and testimonials about the possibilities inherent in the exciting field of HDR photography. Some even claim that you aren’t a true practitioner of HDR art if you don’t shoot multiple exposures.
So, what’s the real deal with HDR photography? I sat down with Scott Brownstein, to sort through everything.
Scott is a well known photo market and digital technology consultant and pioneer. His clients include large retail and professional photo labs, equipment and consumable manufacturers and software and digital service providers. During his 23 years at Kodak, he was responsible for many advanced digital products including dye sublimation printing, “Create-A-Print” consumer operated kiosks and finally the Kodak PhotoCD system.
In addition, he was also the founder and Chief Technology Officer of FujiFilm e-Systems where he was responsible for the conception and development of advanced digital solutions for the professional and retail markets alike. While at Fuji he was also the creative force behind 1 hour web to retail printing at more than 1000 Ritz camera stores and 1 hour web to retail printing at over 3500 WalMart and Sam’s Club locations. Scott was one of the founders and first presidents of the Digital Imaging Marketing Association (DIMA), a member of board of trustees for its parent Photo Marketing Association and sits on the Board of Directors of PhotoChannel Networks Inc.
He holds 18 U.S. patents ranging from innovative film camera systems to dye-sublimation printing to CD-R. Scott was awarded a BS degree in Physics from the University of Maryland and numerous industry awards and honors, including Germany’s Edward Rhein Prize for Technical Achievement, for the creation of the PhotoCD system. Read More→
I’ve been asked this question quite a bit. “How can you bracket 9 exposures on your Nikon D5000 when I can only bracket 3 using AEB”? Well there are two solutions, one is the amazing Promote Control, but I don’t have an extra $350 to invest in this must have piece, so I have an alternate solution.
It is recommended to never touch your camera during your brackets as to not induce camera shake. This is true, but with my solution you will be touching the camera slightly to make adjustments so I recommend this.
- A Sturdy tripod (not those cheap flimsy ones) I’ve been happy with my budget 7300 series tripod from Calumet Photo because its made very well without the high price tag.
- Make sure you tighten up all of your adjustments on your tripod after composing, so that your camera stays in place
- I always use my camera bag as an anchor to weigh down my tripod.
- I always use my wireless shutter release remote
- Under camera setting menu set your EV increments to 1/2 instead of 1/3 (this will reduce the amount of wheel click you need to make to change the exposure.)
- Set you camera to delayed exposure, this allow the shutter to open before the shot is fired (reduces camera shake)
*Now here is how I go about getting 9 exposures out of a 3 Auto Exposure Bracketing System:*